McLennan County, Texas

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McLennan County
Mcclennan courthouse.jpg
The McLennan County courthouse in Waco
Map of Texas highlighting McLennan County.svg
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Texas in United States.svg
Texas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 31°33′N97°12′W / 31.55°N 97.2°W / 31.55; -97.2
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of Texas.svg  Texas
Named for Neil McLennan
Seat Waco
Largest cityWaco
  Total1,060 sq mi (2,700 km2)
  Land1,037 sq mi (2,690 km2)
  Water23 sq mi (60 km2)  2.2%%
  Density227/sq mi (88/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district 17th

McLennan County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 234,906. [1] Its county seat and largest city is Waco. [2] The U.S. census 2019 county population estimate is 256,623. [3] The county is named for Neil McLennan, [4] an early settler.


McLennan County is included in the Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area.


McLennan County was created by the Texas Legislature in 1850 out of Milam County. The county seat, Waco, had been founded as an outpost of the Texas Rangers. It was laid out by George B. Erath, and was known by 1850 as Waco Village.

Popular carbonated beverage Dr Pepper was developed in Waco by pharmacist Charles Alderton in the 1880s. Dr Pepper was headquartered in Waco, until moved to Dallas, Texas. Waco is also home to the Dr Pepper Museum, housed in the 1906 building that was the first stand-alone facility used to bottle Dr Pepper.

According to local lore, the first sustained flight did not occur in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but just outside Tokio (a small community in McLennan County) by a man flying a gyrocopter. During World War I, McLennan County was home to at least one military airfield, Rich Field. In the aftermath of World War I, when social tensions were high as veterans returned, white racial violence broke out against blacks.

McLennan County's contributions to World War II include the reopening of Rich Field for use by the Air Force, and the opening of James Connally Air Force Base, now the home of TSTC Waco Airport and Texas State Technical College. Doris Miller from the county was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism at Pearl Harbor; he was the first African American to earn such distinction. Local man James Connally became known as a World War II fighter pilot.

County Courthouse

The current County Courthouse is located in the county seat, Waco, Texas, and is the county's fourth courthouse. Completed in 1902 in the Beaux Arts Style, it is the next-to-last example of Architect James Riely Gordon's Texas courthouses. Of the eighteen he designed, thirteen remain standing. The first county courthouse was completed in 1851 for $500, and was a two story log cabin that was 30' x 30'. McLennan's second courthouse was a two story brick building completed in 1857 for $11,000. The third courthouse was styled after Second Empire by Architect W.C._Dodson, and completed in 1877 at a cost of $24,894.50. [5]

Institutions of higher education

In 1886, Baylor University relocated from Independence, Texas, to Waco and absorbed Waco University. During the early 20th century, McLennan County was home to as many as five colleges; in addition to Baylor, the other colleges included the predecessor to what is now known as Texas Christian University (now in Fort Worth), Paul Quinn College (relocated since to Dallas), and two other short-lived colleges.

In the 1960s, the Texas Legislature authorized McLennan Community College, the first community college to use those words in the name. Around the same time, what is now the flagship institution of Texas State Technical College was founded as James Connally Technical Institute, as a member of the Texas A&M University System. Today, Baylor, McLennan Community College, and Texas State Technical College continue to operate in McLennan County. They educate a large portion of the college-bound high-school graduates from the county and the surrounding areas. McLennan Community College has also partnered Tarleton State University, Texas Tech University, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and Midwestern State University to offer more than 50 bachelor's or master's degrees.

Crash at Crush

Crush, Texas, was a temporary "city" in McLennan County, about 15 miles (24 km) north of Waco. It was established to stage a publicity stunt concocted by William George Crush and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The stunt involved the collision of two 35-ton steam locomotives in front of spectators, whom the railway transported to the event for $2 each. After strong promotion, on September 15, 1896, the event was delayed by an hour as the police maneuvered the crowd of more than 40,000 back to what was thought to be a safe distance. [6]

The crews of the two engines tied the throttles open and jumped off. The two engines, pulling wagons filled with railroad ties, traveled a 4-mile (6.4 km) track and thunderously crashed into each other at a combined speed up to 120 mph (190 km/h). The boilers exploded and sent steam and flying debris into the crowd. Three people were killed and about six were injured, including event photographer Jarvis "Joe" Deane, who lost an eye because of a flying bolt. [6]

Ragtime composer Scott Joplin commemorated the event with "The Great Crush Collision March"; Joplin dedicated the composition to the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway. [7] Texas composer and singer Brian Burns wrote and recorded a song about the collision, "The Crash at Crush" (2001).

West fertilizer plant explosion

Waco siege

Twin Peaks biker shootout

On May 17, 2015, motorcycle clubs gathered at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco for a Confederation of Clubs meeting. Upon arrival of a large contingent of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, mass violence erupted in the parking lot of Twin Peaks between members of the Bandidos and members of the Cossasks Motorcycle Club. This resulted in 9 dead and 18 wounded in the melee between the rival outlaw motorcycle gangs. In 2019, all remaining charges were dropped by the new District Attorney, Barry Johnson.

Elected leadership

Legislative representationNameService
United States Congress, District 17 Pete Sessions 2019 – Present
State Senator, District 22 Brian Birdwell 2010 – Present
State Representative, District 56Charles Doc Anderson 2005 – Present
State Representative, District 12 Kyle Kacal 2011 – Present
County Elected LeadershipNameService
County JudgeScott Felton2012 – Present
County Commissioner Pct 1Jim Smith2009 – Present
County Commissioner Pct 2Pat Chisolm-Miller2019 – Present
County Commissioner Pct 3Will Jones2013 – Present
County Commissioner Pct 4Ben Perry2011 – Present
District AttorneyBarry Johnson2019 – Present
District ClerkJon Gimble2015 – Present
County ClerkAndy Harwell1995 – Present
County SheriffParnell McNamara2013 – Present
County Tax Assessor-CollectorRandy Riggs2012 – Present
County TreasurerBill Helton2012 – Present, 1991 - 2010 [8]
Local JudiciaryNameService
Tenth Court of Appeals, ChiefTom Gray2003 – Present, 1999 - 2003 Associate Justice
Tenth court of Appeals, Place 2Matt Johnson2021 – Present, 2007 - 2020 Judge 54TH District Court [9]
Tenth court of Appeals, Place 3John Neil2019 – Present, 1998 - 2019 Judge 18TH District Court [10]
State District Judge, 19TH CourtThomas West2021 – Present
State District Judge, 54TH CourtSusan Kelly2021 – Present
State District Judge, 74TH CourtGary Coley, Jr.2009 – Present
State District Judge, 170TH CourtJim Meyer2003 – Present
State District Judge, 414TH CourtVicki Menard2006 – Present, Local Administrative Judge
County Court at Law Judge, Court 1Vikram 'Vik' Deivanayagam2018 – Present
County Court at Law Judge, Court 2Brad Cates2011 – Present


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results [11]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2020 60.8%59,54337.5% 36,6881.7% 1,641
2016 61.0%48,26034.2% 27,0634.8% 3,752
2012 64.3%47,90334.5% 25,6941.3% 944
2008 61.6%49,04437.7% 29,9980.8% 632
2004 65.7%52,09033.8% 26,7600.5% 404
2000 63.9%43,95534.1% 23,4622.0% 1,372
1996 48.6%30,66642.9% 27,0508.5% 5,367
1992 40.7%28,47337.0% 25,90322.3% 15,640
1988 58.1%38,60641.5% 27,5450.4% 272
1984 64.4%42,23235.4% 23,2060.2% 140
1980 53.7%31,96844.2% 26,3052.1% 1,242
1976 45.3% 25,37053.8%30,0910.9% 509
1972 67.5%33,37732.2% 15,9470.3% 161
1968 34.2% 15,95848.0%22,38817.8% 8,293
1964 27.7% 10,89272.3%28,4290.1% 25
1960 42.5% 14,92657.2%20,1000.4% 130
1956 48.9% 15,56150.8%16,1810.4% 111
1952 46.4% 14,97453.5%17,2510.2% 53
1948 15.3% 3,08879.6%16,0345.1% 1,035
1944 9.0% 1,66882.3%15,3368.7% 1,627
1940 12.0% 2,17887.8%15,9520.2% 35
1936 8.1% 1,11690.8%12,4891.1% 154
1932 8.4% 1,10890.8%11,9720.8% 105
1928 51.8%5,74448.1% 5,3300.1% 13
1924 22.2% 2,38473.5%7,8824.2% 455
1920 21.2% 1,65563.7%4,97515.1% 1,179
1916 15.5% 94082.3%4,9792.2% 134
1912 6.4% 29582.8%3,82910.8% 501


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,060 square miles (2,700 km2), of which 1,037 square miles (2,690 km2) are land and 23 square miles (60 km2) (2.2%) are covered by water. [12]

Major highways

Adjacent counties


Historical population
1860 6,206
1870 13,500117.5%
1880 26,93499.5%
1890 39,20445.6%
1900 59,77252.5%
1910 73,25022.5%
1920 82,92113.2%
1930 98,68219.0%
1940 101,8983.3%
1950 130,19427.8%
1960 150,09115.3%
1970 147,553−1.7%
1980 170,75515.7%
1990 189,12310.8%
2000 213,51712.9%
2010 234,90610.0%
2019 (est.)256,623 [13] 9.2%
U.S. Decennial Census [14]
1850–2010 [15] 2010–2019 [1]

As of the census of 2000, [16] 213,517 people, 78,859 households, and 52,914 families resided in the county. The population density was 205 people per square mile (79/km2). The 84,795 housing units averaged 81 per square mile (31/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 72.17% White, 15.19% Black or African American, 0.49% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 9.21% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. About 17.91% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race; 12.8% were of German, 11.0% American, 8.0% English, and 6.9% Irish ancestry.

Of the 78,859 households, 33.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.70% were married couples living together, 13.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.90% were not families. About 26.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the county, the population was distributed as 26.60% under the age of 18, 14.60% from 18 to 24, 26.40% from 25 to 44, 19.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,560, and for a family was $41,414. Males had a median income of $30,906 versus $21,978 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,174. About 12.40% of families and 17.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.70% of those under age 18 and 11.30% of those age 65 or over.



Public school districts


Cities (multiple counties)


Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

See also

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  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 7, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. Estimates of Resident Population Change and Rankings for Counties in Texas: July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019 (CO-EST2019-ANNCHG-48) Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division Release Date: March 2020
  4. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p.  194.
  6. 1 2 "The Crash at the Crush". Texas Historical Commission. Archived from the original on 2015-11-21. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
  7. Scott Joplin, "The Great Crush Collision" sheet music (Temple, TX: John R. Fuller, 1896). See Bill Edwards, Rags and Pieces by Scott Joplin. Archived June 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  12. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  13. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  14. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  15. "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  16. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2011-05-14.

Coordinates: 31°33′N97°12′W / 31.55°N 97.20°W / 31.55; -97.20