The history of Gatesville, TX dates back to 1854 when the town was established on land which was donated by Richard G. Grant not long after the organization of the county. The name of the town was taken from Fort Gates, which was located nearby. During the early years, Gatesville remained somewhat isolated. Supplies were brought in from the town of Houston, some 200 miles away. Throughout the late 1850s the town of Gatesville continued to grow at a slow rate. This slow rate of growth continued throughout the Civil War.
The real growth of the area began in the early 1880s when the residents of the area donated a whopping $30,000 as well as land to the Texas and St. Louis Railway in order for rail service to be extended to the area. This proved to be the impetus the area needed for significant growth. In 1882, the railroad was completed and Gatesville and the surrounding county were opened to outside markets. Thus, began Gatesville, Texas history as a significant shipping center.
The population of Gatesville expanded to 1,375 by 1890 and then continued to grow at a rapid rate. The local economy continued to benefit when Fort Hood was constructed in the early part of the 1940s. Today the local economy remains strong as a result of Gatesville's proximity to the Fort and the many local prisons.
Gatesville, TX history also shares a strong association with the agricultural industry and is well known for the legend of cowboys and Indians. Many of the museums located in Gatesville and the surrounding area now reflect that history and provide interactive displays to help others learn about the history of Gatesville.