History of Heath

In 1840, the Texas Congress ordered a central government road to be built from Austin to the mouth of the Kiamichi Creek at its intersection with the Red River. This road crossed the east fork of the Trinity River in what is now known as Heath. Immigrants and settlers who were attracted by the rich black soil of the area began to travel this road. In fact, the first name for the Heath area was Black Hills.

The first settlers were mostly farmers. In addition to the rich soil, they found an abundance of wild turkeys, deer, geese and ducks. There also was plenty of timber and water. The many willow trees that grew around the springs gave rise to the second name of Willow Springs for the area.

The first post office was established for the community, which by then was known as Heath in 1880. During this period, Texas was evolving from an independent territory to a state. Counties were divided and re-divided. Heath was originally part of Henderson County, then Nacogdoches County, then Kaufman County. In 1873, a petition was circulated requesting that Rockwall be made a separate county. This petition was granted, and Heath was thus situated within the boundaries of the smallest county in Texas.

During the late 1800’s, the Heath area experienced steady growth. Rockwall County assumed the operation of Barnes Bridge, which crossed the east fork of the Trinity River at Heath and took travelers into Dallas County. Businesses were opened in town. Due to some type of quarrel between the people in the north and south parts of the area, two schools were established. One was located in the north on the Pinion farm, and one was located in the south near the Baptist Church.

In the 1800’s, buffalo roamed freely in Heath. Each day at sundown, buffalo would run through what is now known as Darr Estates. Children were warned by the ringing of a bell and they would all go inside until after the buffalo had passed.

In 1902, the Heath Independent School District was formed and a new school building was built on the site of the current Heath City Hall complex.

The town of Heath was devastated by fire in 1916; the first of three fires that destroyed many businesses and set the City’s growth back significantly. After the 1920s, the population declined as young people left to find work in bigger cities such as Dallas. Farming revenue was not sufficient to support a family unless the farm was very large.

When the town population was 200 in 1949, the Heath school closed and merged with the Rockwall Independent School District. The town was incorporated in 1959.

Lake Ray Hubbard became a reality in 1969. The old Barnes Bridge Road was covered by its waters. The first revenues of the City, a sum of $100, were generated by its franchise with Texas Power & Light.

By 1970, the population was 520 and homes were being built throughout the City. Newcomers were attracted to the openness of rural living and proximity to Lake Ray Hubbard.

As families continue to choose to live in Heath, the town has grown and thrived and in 2007 had a population of more than 6,900 residents.