Brenham's journey from pre-Civil War hub to beloved community and home to Blue Bell

BRENHAM, Texas (KTRK) -- Brenham may be best known as the home of Blue Bell Ice Cream. But the city's place as the hub of Washington County was established before the creamery ever came to town.

Brenham became a city in 1844. Mike Vance of the Brenham Heritage Museum. "The history of Brenham is really a microcosm of the history of Texas and America."

The construction of a railroad before the Civil War was a major factor in the city's early success, but its construction was completed in large part due to slavery. Vance said, "At one time, prior to the Civil War, half of Washington County's population was enslaved African Americans."

The results of the railroad led to Brenham becoming a major place of commerce. The city was home to a large cotton industry, furniture makers, horse-carriage builders, and more.

The Brenham Creamery Company was established in the early 1900s, and became Blue Bell in 1930. "(Blue Bell) became a big employer," Vance said.

Downtown Brenham is located approximately 25 minutes from Washington-on-the-Brazos, which is where a group of men signed the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.

"The town of Washington offered them a space to meet for free," said Rachel Flinn of Washington-on-the-Brazos. "It was an unfinished building, but it's very significant to Texas today."
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