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Falls County
The Falls County Courthouse in Marlin. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 2000.
The Falls County Courthouse in Marlin. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 2000.
Flag of Falls County
Map of Texas highlighting Falls County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Texas
Founded 1850
Seat Marlin
Largest city Marlin
 • Total 774 sq mi (2,000 km2)
 • Land 765 sq mi (1,980 km2)
 • Water 8.4 sq mi (22 km2)  1.1%%
 • Total 17,866
 • Density 23/sq mi (9/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 17th

Falls County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 17,866. The county seat is Marlin. It is named for the original 10-foot-tall waterfall on the Brazos River, which existed until the river changed course during a storm in 1866. The present falls can be found two miles northeast of the original falls, at the Falls on the Brazos Park, a camping site located only a few miles out of Marlin on Farm to Market Road 712.

Falls County is included in the Waco, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area.

With a large portion of its economy based on agriculture, Falls County is sixth among 254 Texas counties in corn production.


Native Americans

The Brazos River valley served as hunting grounds for several tribes, including Wacos, Tawakonis, and Anadarkos. The Comanches were often a more aggressive band who forced other tribes off the land. The Tawakoni branch of Wichita Indians originated north of Texas, but migrated south into east Texas. From 1843 onward, the Tawakoni were part of treaties made by both the Republic of Texas and the United States.

The Cherokees arrived in the early 1830s. Sam Houston, adopted son of Chief Oolooteka (John Jolly) of the Cherokee, negotiated the February 1836 treaty between Chief Bowl of the Cherokees and the Republic of Texas.

January 1839, Falls County saw two brutal massacres by the Anadarkos, under chief José María, at the homes of George Morgan and John Marlin. A retaliatory offensive by settlers was ineffective and forced the group into a retreat.

In 1846, several tribes negotiated a treaty with the United States government.


Empresarios "Sterling C. Robertson:Texas Association/Nashville Co." and Robert Leftwich received a grant from the Coahuila y Tejas legislature to settle 800 families. By contracting how many families each grantee could settle, the government sought to have some control over colonization. Robertson began bringing American settlers to his Nashville colony (later called Robertson's Colony). Most of the settlers came from Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi. He named the capital of the Nashville colony Sarahville de Viesca. Fort Viesca was built in 1834, with a name change to Fort Milam in 1835. The settlement was deserted during the Runaway Scrape of 1836, and reoccupied after the Battle of San Jacinto.

County established and growth

The state legislature formed Falls County from Limestone and Milam counties in 1850, and named it after the falls of the Brazos River. Marlin became the county seat.

By the census of 1860 the county had 1,716 slaves. Falls County voted in favor of secession from the Union. The county fared better during Reconstruction than most, perhaps due to its distance from areas subject to Union military occupation.

Marlin began to be known by the healing powers of its hot mineral waters by the 1890s. Conrad Hilton built the Falls Hotel, with a tunnel to a mineral bath, to accommodate the business generated by the hot spring.

The Houston and Texas Central Railway became the first railroad through the county around 1870. The Waco Division of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway, in 1886-1925, had multiple stops in Falls County. In 1902 the Missouri Pacific Railroad passed through the county.

A log cabin served as the county's first courthouse in the 1850s, until the second courthouse was built of white cedar. The second courthouse burned in 1870. A third courthouse was built in 1876 but was damaged by a storm in 1886.

A fourth courthouse was built in 1888, which by the 1930s had greatly deteriorated. The concrete, brick, and stone fifth and present-day courthouse was completed in 1939 by architect Arthur E. Thomas.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 774 square miles (2,000 km2), of which 765 square miles (1,980 km2) is land and 8.4 square miles (22 km2) (1.1%) is water.

Major highways

  • I-35.svg Interstate 35 (two miles)
  • US 77.svg U.S. Highway 77
  • Texas 6.svg State Highway 6
  • Texas 7.svg State Highway 7
  • Texas 14.svg State Highway 14
  • Texas 53.svg State Highway 53
  • Texas 320.svg State Highway 320

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 3,614
1870 9,851 172.6%
1880 16,240 64.9%
1890 20,706 27.5%
1900 33,342 61.0%
1910 35,649 6.9%
1920 36,217 1.6%
1930 38,771 7.1%
1940 35,984 −7.2%
1950 26,724 −25.7%
1960 21,263 −20.4%
1970 17,300 −18.6%
1980 17,946 3.7%
1990 17,712 −1.3%
2000 18,576 4.9%
2010 17,866 −3.8%
2015 (est.) 17,142 −4.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
1850–2010 2010–2014

As of the census of 2000, there were 18,576 people, 6,496 households, and 4,410 families residing in the county. The population density was 24 people per square mile (9/km²). There were 7,658 housing units at an average density of 10 per square mile (4/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 61.50% White, 27.45% Black or African American, 0.50% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 8.81% from other races, and 1.59% from two or more races. 15.83% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,496 households out of which 30.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.20% were married couples living together, 15.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.10% were non-families. 29.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the county, the population was spread out with 27.60% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 27.00% from 25 to 44, 20.80% from 45 to 64, and 16.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 85.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.40 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $26,589, and the median income for a family was $32,666. Males had a median income of $27,042 versus $20,128 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,311. About 18.80% of families and 22.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.70% of those under age 18 and 18.40% of those age 65 or over.


Cities and towns

Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

In popular culture

Marlin has been a filming location for two movies: Leadbelly (1976) and Infamous (2006).

In 2013, a ranch in northeast Falls County near Mart, Texas, was the site of the series premiere of Treehouse Masters, in which a couple had a $200,000 treehouse built on their property.

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