Jarrell is on Donahoe Creek at the intersection of Interstate Highway 35 and Farm Road 487, two miles from the Bell county line in north central Williamson County.
The city was named for real estate developer O. D. Jarrell of Temple, who, with E. C. Haeber of Bartlett, founded the town in 1909 at the intersection of the old stagecoach road and the proposed right-of-way of the Bartlett and Western Railway. The railroad reached the town soon thereafter and helped farmers move their abundant cotton crop to market. A saloon and two stores were operating in 1910, followed by a bank and a weekly newspaper, the Jarrell View, in 19ll and a post office in 1912.
The inhabitants of Corn Hill, a town a mile south of Jarrell, moved themselves and in many cases their dwellings to Jarrell when it became clear that Corn Hill had been bypassed by the railroad. By 1914 Jarrell had reached its peak population of 500 and had a waterworks, electric lights, a movie theater, and a hotel. With the decline of the cotton industry in the 1920s and 1930s and the closing of the Bartlett and Western in 1935, Jarrell experienced a long-term decline. In 1933 it had a population of 200 and eighteen businesses. The community revived to an estimated 350 inhabitants and twenty-one businesses in 1945. From 1964 to 1990 the population of Jarrell was reported as 410.
On May 27, 1997, Jarrell made national news when a deadly tornado killed twenty-seven people and injured others. The tornado was one of great intensity ripping homes from foundations, throwing vehicles into the air and strewing the remains of livestock.
In 2000 the town’s population had reached 4,370, to include the Jarrell Independent School District boundaries. Jarrell incorporated in 2001, and the population had grown to 9,300.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973).