Waxahachie (// WOK-sə-HA-chee) is the county seat of Ellis County, Texas, United States, it is located just beyond the southern suburbs of Dallas and is part of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. The population was 29,621 at the 2010 census, with an estimated population of 37,988 in 2019.
Some sources state that the name means “cow” or “buffalo” in an unspecified Native American language. One possible Native American origin is the Alabama language, originally spoken in the area of Alabama around Waxahatchee Creek by the Alabama-Coushatta people, who had migrated by the 1850s to eastern Texas. In the Alabama language, waakasi hachi means “calf’s tail” (the Alabama word waaka being a loan from Spanish vaca).
That there is a Waxahatchee Creek near present-day Shelby, Alabama, suggests that Waxahachie, Texas, shares the same name etymology. Many place names in Texas and Oklahoma have their origins in the Southeastern United States, largely due to forced removal of various southeastern Indian tribes. The area in central Alabama that includes Waxahatchee Creek was for hundreds of years the home of the Upper Creek moiety of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Again, this would suggest a Muscogee Creek language origin of Waxahachie. “Waxahachie” therefore may be an anglicized pronunciation of the Muscogee compound word Wakvhvce from the Muscogee words Wakv (meaning “cow” derived from the Spanish vaca) and the Muscogee word Hvcce (meaning “river” or “creek”).
A second etymology that has been suggested for the name is insisted on by speakers of Wichita, the language of the tribe which used to live in the area but now lives mostly around Anadarko, Oklahoma. Wichita people claim the name comes from their word waks’ahe:ts’i (the apostrophe represents a glottal stop, like the middle sound in “oh oh”; “a” is schwa (“uh”); “e:” sounds almost like the “a” of “hat”; “ts” before “i” in this language often sounds like “ch” to English speaking ears; “i” has the continental value, like the one in English “machine”). It means “fat wildcat”.
Waxahachie was founded in August 1850 as the seat of the newly established Ellis County on a donated tract of land given by early settler Emory W. Rogers, a native of Lawrence County, Alabama, who migrated to Texas in 1839. It was incorporated on April 28, 1871, and in 1875 the state legislature granted investors the right to operate a rail line from Waxahachie Tap Railroad to Garrett, Texas, which greatly increased the population of Waxahachie.
From 1902 to 1942, Waxahachie was the 2nd home of Trinity University, which was a Presbyterian-affiliated institution founded in 1869. Then-Trinity’s main administration and classroom building is today the Farmer Administration Building of Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Trinity’s present-day location is San Antonio.
In 1988, the area around Waxahachie was chosen as the site for the Superconducting Super Collider, which was to be the world’s largest and most energetic particle accelerator, with a planned ring circumference of 54.1 miles (87.1 km). Seventeen shafts were sunk and 14.6 miles (23.5 km) of tunnel were bored before the project was canceled by Congress in 1993.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Waxahachie has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated “Cfa” on climate maps.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 29,621 people living in the city. The population density was 536.1 people per square mile (207.0/km²). There were 7,909 housing units at an average density of 197.9 per square mile (76.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.00% White, 14.20% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 0.10% from other races, and 2.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 26.00% of the population. The total estimated population as of 2016 was 34,345.
There were 7,325 households of which 36.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. Of all households, 21.9% were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.18.
In the city, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $43,213, and the median income for a family was $50,048. Males had a median income of $32,597 versus $23,838 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,003. About 10.5% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.3% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.
Employment opportunities in the city are highly oriented toward industry. Owens Corning, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper, James Hardie Industries, Berry Global, Americase, Cardinal Glass, Magnablend, and Dart Container are located within a few miles of each other. Non-industrial employers include Baylor Scott & White Health, Waxahachie Independent School District, Walgreen Distribution Center, Wal-Mart, HEB Grocery, Navarro College, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
Arts and culture
Annual cultural events
The Scarborough Renaissance Festival (also called Scarborough Faire), a Renaissance fair theme park, is located southwest of the town. It opens annually during the months of April and May and has been in operation since 1981. The city’s annual Gingerbread Trail Festival features tours of many of the Gingerbread homes.
Bethlehem Revisited (Located Behind Central Presbyterian Church). Step back in time, over 2000 years ago, and walk the streets of ancient Bethlehem as Mary and Joseph did on the night of Christ’s birth. On your journey to the site of the Nativity, you will meet innkeepers, merchants, craftsmen, tradesmen, clergy, and many other citizens as they portray daily life in the City of Bethlehem, complete with sheep, camels, and donkeys. You can also visit Herod’s Court and await the nightly parade of the three kings bringing their treasures to Bethlehem’s newest citizen. Regularly voted one of the top holiday attractions in North Texas.
Texas Country Reporter Festival (hosted by Bob Phillips) The Texas Country Reporter Festival features artists, craftsmen, music, and food from all over the Lone Star State – much of it featured on TCR over the years. It’s free, family-friendly, and fun! Pets are welcome, but they must be leashed. With an average attendance of over 30,000 
Waxahachie is locally known for its elaborate Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse. The town also features many examples of Victorian architecture and Gingerbread homes, several of which have been converted into bed and breakfasts. Ellis County Art Association ART On The Square (Cultural Attractions- Events- & Facilities; 113 West Franklin Street).
Parks and recreation
Parks in Waxahachie include Spring Park, Getzendaner Memorial Park, Richards Park, Sheaffer Full Life Center – Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Southwestern Assemblies of God University Football Field, Lumpkin Stadium, Southwestern Assemblies of God University Baseball Fields, Chapman Park.
The city of Waxahachie is a voluntary member of the North Central Texas Council of Governments association, the purpose of which is to coordinate individual and collective local governments and facilitate regional solutions, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and enable joint decisions.
At the federal level, the two U.S. senators from Texas are Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; since 2003 Waxahachie has been part of Texas’ 6th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Republican Ron Wright (politician).
Primary and secondary
Waxahachie is served by the Waxahachie Independent School District. There are currently eight elementary campuses, three middle school campuses, and two high schools. WISD aims to offer all of its students a well-rounded education and offers AP and Dual Credit courses as well as varied Career and Technology courses.
Waxahachie High School is classified as 6A and offers a range of extracurricular activities to its students, including football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, concert and marching band, drama, choir, drill team, and dozens of academic teams and clubs. WISD offers several CTSO’s to its students including FFA, Skills USA and TSA.
Several of the school’s programs have achieved national recognition in recent years. The football program has made the playoffs every year from 1989 to 2010.
Waxahachie Global High School, an ECHS T-STEM school emphasizing instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a small-learning-community environment, as well as an Early College High School, opened on August 27, 2007. During the first decade of their incorporation, the school has produced many students recognizable for their achievements, including a National Merit finalist.
In addition to the district schools, Life School, a public charter school system, operates the 7-12 Waxahachie campus. On April 15, 2014, Life School broke ground on a new high school in Waxahachie planned to accommodate approximately 1,000 9th-12th graders.
The area is also served by several private schools, including Waxahachie Preparatory Academy (WPA), St Joseph Catholic School and First Christian Day School. WPA and the First Christian Day School offer a K–12 education, while St Joseph only has K-8.
Colleges and universities
The Waxahachie Daily Light has served the town since 1891, and the first newspaper in Waxahachie, the Waxahachie Argus, was established in 1870. Additionally, there are 47 radio stations within close listening range of Waxahachie.
Both Altus Emergency Center and Baylor Scott & White Health at Waxahachie provide emergency services locally, as does Ennis Regional Medical Center, approximately 14 miles away in Ennis. Between 2003 and 2010, Waxahachie’s healthcare industry added 555 jobs, making it the city’s fourth largest employment sector.
- Interstate 35E is a major north-south freeway serving as a bypass around the west side of Waxahachie. The freeway connects with Red Oak, Desoto/Lancaster, and Dallas to the north; Italy, Hillsboro, and Waco to the south.
- U.S. Route 287 is a north-south freeway in Waxahachie that runs in a northwest-southeast direction through the north side of the city. The freeway connects with Midlothian, Mansfield and Fort Worth to the west and Ennis to the east.
- U.S. Route 77 is a north-south highway that serves as the main thoroughfare through the city passing through downtown and the north side of the city. The high parallels Interstate 35 and reconnects with the interstate just outside the city limits. Many of the city’s commercial developments line Highway 77.
Robert J. Groden, JFK assassination expert. Released the Zapruder Film on national TV on March 6, 1975.
In the mid-1980s Waxahachie became a filming location for the movie industry.
The majority of Tender Mercies, a 1983 film about a country western singer, was filmed in Waxahachie. Director Bruce Beresford deliberately avoided the city’s picturesque elements and Victorian architecture, and instead filmed more rural locations that more closely resembled the West Texas area. The Texas town portrayed in Tender Mercies is never specifically identified. Tender Mercies starred Robert Duvall, who won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film.
The 1984 film Places in the Heart starring Sally Field was also filmed in Waxahachie. Unlike Tender Mercies, it was filmed deliberately in the town square and utilized the Victorian and plantation homes still intact in the area. Field won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1985 for her role in the film.
Other movies made in or around Waxahachie are:
- 1918, directed by Ken Harrison, tells of the severe flu outbreak after soldiers returned from World War I. Local talent in the film include L.T. Felty, a former high school principal and local actor, who was cast as the mayor.
- On Valentine’s Day, also directed by Ken Harrison, the central film in Horton Foote’s semi-autobiographical trilogy that also includes Courtship and 1918. It is a nearly verbatim retelling of his stage play and the sets and costumes.
- Missionary Man stars Dolph Lundgren and was filmed in downtown Waxahachie around the Rogers Hotel and vicinity.
- The Curse of Inferno, starring Pauly Shore and Janine Turner.
Additionally, the long-running television series Walker, Texas Ranger, starring Chuck Norris, was filmed in Waxahachie on occasion. Some scenes in Prison Break were filmed in Waxahachie. Scenes from Bonnie and Clyde (1967) were also shot here.
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- Many place names in the Southern U.S. end with “hatchee” or “hachie” such as, famously, “Tallahatchie Bridge“. Whether “hatchee” or “hachie”, these names oftentimes derive from either the Muscogee word hvce (tail) or hvcce (a river or a stream). For example, ‘Tvlvhvcce (English “Tallahatchie”) may be interpreted as “River City” from ‘Tvlv (city or town) and “hvcce” (river or stream).
- Dr. David S. Rood, linguist at the University of Colorado, who has been studying the Wichita language since 1965.
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