Terrell developed as a railroad town, beginning in 1873 with construction here of the Texas and Pacific Railroad line. The town was named for Robert A. Terrell, a pioneer European-American settler whose farm lay on its western edge. He built an octagonal house on his property, called a "Round House", to provide better defense against attacks by Native Americans. They had occupied this territory for thousands of years. His house was later fitted with the first glass windows in the county. The community was incorporated in 1875. The first automobile appeared in 1899.
The Terrell Military College was established here, operating until after World War II. Its campus was sited on part of the former Terrell farm and incorporated his historic Round House. In 1949 the Southern Bible Institute, based in Dallas and affiliated with the Churches of Christ, bought the military college property and transferred their operations here, renaming their institution Southwestern Christian College. It is a private, historically black college. The Round House has been preserved on campus, and is one of 20 such structures in the nation.
There were 4,605 households out of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 25.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.30.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,036, and the median income for a family was $40,148. Males had a median income of $29,826 versus $21,753 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,405. About 15.7% of families and 19.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.1% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over.
During World War II, the No. 1 British Flying Training School (BFTS), was located in Terrell. It was the first of six civilian flight schools in the United States dedicated to instructing British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots during that war. This followed an international training concept similar to that previously implemented during World War I near Fort Worth at Camp Taliaferro.
Terrell Municipal Airport hosts the No. 1 British Flying Training School Museum, which has an extensive record of the School. In 2000 the museum was instrumental in honoring four Royal Air Force airmen who died in a crash during World War II. The four, flying from Terrell, encountered difficulties over the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma. The AT6 Monument, whose dedication made international headlines with many from Terrell and the United Kingdom present, marks the spot of one of the crashes. City, state and even international dignitaries gathered in Terrell on Friday, September 16, 2011 to mark the opening of the new Major William F. Long Terminal Building.
The City of Terrell, in partnership with the No 1 British Flying Training School Museum, host an annual World War II veterans reunion and air event on the first Saturday of October. This event draws attendees from all over the world. It presents numerous attractions such as vintage aircraft and military vehicles, skydiving, flight simulators, lectures, films, and demonstrations, and activities for every member of the family. The reunion dinner and hangar dance is on Friday night, the fly-in kicks off with a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, followed by a ceremony and entertainment until the afternoon.
Heritage Jubilee, held the third weekend in April at Ben Gill Park, is a family celebration with a BBQ cook-off, museum tours, arts and crafts exhibition, carnival, live music, a quilt show, an auto show, and other attractions.
Dr. Bruce Wood Intermediate School (Grades 3-6) Serving the West Side of Terrell
J.W. Long Elementary School (Grades 3-6) Serving the East Side of Terrell
Kennedy Elementary School (Grades 1-2)
W.H. Burnett Elementary School (Grades PK-K)
In 2010, Terrell Independent School District voted to rezone the district into East and West for grades 3-6. The city is divided along Rockwall St. and then further down along a line with no specific boundary.
• Dr. Edward M. Curtis, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University. Dr. Curtis is an Old Testament scholar who has done extensive research in Genesis, Job, and the Song of Solomon