A History of Rockwall County Texas

History by Henry Squires from 1970's article

In the days before Rockwall's founding in 1854, the records show that a number of pioneer families had settled the blackland territory drained by both the east fork of the Trinity and the bluff fork of the Sabine. Some came by oxen-drawn wagons while others came by emigrant trains from the east.  In all, 240 settlers came to build a life in the area that has become Rockwall.
During these early days Jefferson, Texas was the local market place. Here, settlers purchased salt, coffee, ammunition, tools and the like. Lumber was also a big item as it was transported by ox wagon from Jefferson to Dallas.
The community took its name from an extensive wall-like underground formation discovered by Terry Wade in 1852.  The stone wall was found while Wade was digging a well just outside the present square of Rockwall.  Since then, many additional outcroppings of the wall have been discovered in the area, looking strangely manmade, but probably being of geologic origin.
During the early years, Rockwall consisted of little more than a post office, blacksmith, grinding mill, church and general store.  By 1873, the County of Rockwall was established in order to settle a dispute between residents of Terrell and Kaufman Counties wanting a new county seat location.  Rockwall grew to a population of 600 as both the seat of the new county and center of business.  In 1886, when the MK&T railroad was built through the city, growth continued and the farming business prospered with the availability of newly opened market places for local produce.
Wells College, a junior educational system, was organized in 1893 by Prof. J. K. Wells.  The school operated until 1912 by which time Rockwall had grown to 1100 people, with the latest in utilities, a telephone system, new schools, churches, businesses and automobiles.
By the year 1917, the East Fork Levee District was developed creating rich new farmland and by WW I Rockwall found itself in the midst of unprecedented prosperity.  Land and cotton prices rose to record highs and local businesses grew rich.
The prosperity came to an abrupt end by 1922 at which time most of Rockwall's many farmers and merchants were wiped out.  What followed was a period of slow regrowth. During these years, businesses again came to life and many new local and county roads were constructed.  Concerns of the day included inflation and soaring taxes.  The Rockwall  population was by now around 1400.
By the Depression of the 1930's, Rockwall's development had slowed and her population had declined.  Again, many merchants and farmers were wiped out and community apathy over local economic problems followed into the 1940's.
Since those days, through new community leadership and a sense of responsibility to 120 years of history, Rockwall has again undergone a process of regrowth and development.  The population today exceeds 4200 and the present industries include those in aluminum, electronics, garments, agricultural supplies and recreation.