The valley provided the settlers with plenty of spring water from the mountains, and plenty of timber. The settlers would cut and hew the native timber with their axes to build their houses and barns, and then chink the cracks between the logs with clay. The timber was also used for fencing. The timber also helped the settlers avoid the Indians who were making raids on white settlers in the area.
The settlers grew their own crops, furnishing plenty for their families. They raised livestock on the grass of the valley and on the acorns and pecans that grew native to the area. To provide meat for the table, "hog killings" were held and sometimes a fat beef was slaughtered. Each family took home the meat from the animals bearing the family's brand. There were also plenty of wild deer and smaller game as well as lots of fish. Honey could be found in many hollow or "bee" trees and small patches of sorghum cane grew in the area.
Home remedies were a necessity to the early settlers because the nearest doctor might be many miles away, and the only means of transportation was by ox wagon or horseback. Pioneer women also did their own spinning and weaving. Candles, made from rendering the tallow of butchered cattle, provided light. The fireplace not only furnished heat, but often used for cooking as well.
After a few more families moved in, a one-room log school house was built just west of where the Pleasant Hill Cemetery is located. The teacher was paid from the subscriptions collected from the parents. The school term was during the three months of summer.
The Civil War took some of the men away, but those who did return began to build and improve the community. The last Indian raid took place about 1875 when a group of 25 or so Indians came through stealing horses. A posse chased them, but lost the trail.
One of the first stores was located three or four miles east of Nolanville. It was call Peeler Store. Prior to that all groceries and other supplies were bought at Belton. A few years later a grocery store opened named Grange.
That was Nolanville without a name . . . or with its earliest names of Warren Station and McDowell.
About 1880 talk began about the community possibly getting a railroad through town. The settlers had mixed feeling about this, particularly the ones who owned land through which the line would pass. Finally the right-of-way was secure, and on February 20, 1882, the first passenger train puffed through the community with its small coal-burning engine pulling only a few cars. (Passenger service was discontinued in 1968.) This was a sight which few of the settlers, children or adult, had ever seen. The first special train which ran to Lampasas picked up passengers all along the way.
The railroad company then built a depot and named the site "Warren", after a previous land owner who still owned some acreage east of the station. The village soon began to grow and the Grange store moved from its former location to a site near the depot. A post office was established, but when the name of Warren was submitted, it was learned that another post office already had that name. Since the community was on the banks of Nolan Creek, the name Nolanville was chosen. Other historians insist it took Belton's discarded name in order to preserve it. Nolanville had been the old name for Belton before the latter became county seat in 1852. Once the post office was changed to Nolanville, the railroad company changed the name of its station also.
About the same time that Santa Fe rolled through Nolanville, the Church of Christ Summer Encampment tradition began. Crowds (up to 200) came by the wagon loads and they stayed - for 10 days, listening to "Hell Fire and Damnation" sermons . . . singing every single stanza of the invitation hymn "Oh Why Not Tonight?" . . . and watching new converts being immersed in nature's own baptismal font, nearby Nolan Creek.
There was religion to be found, and plenty of it. And fellowship came by the "plenty's" as well.
Families, who pitched tents side by side near the tabernacle, took turns bringing water from the creek or leaving watermelon in the creek to cool it. And they would fan their children with Palmetto fans and watch as the babies crawled on pallets on the ground.
Part of the food to feed the crowd came on foot. Live fat chickens, of the yellow legged variety, were staked out and fed until it was chicken dinner time on the campgrounds.
And Nolanville, a child of the Santa Fe, was born.
Families and businesses gravitated toward the tracks instantly. By 1884 Nolanville had two gristmills, two cotton gins, three churches, a school, a post office and a population of 100. Realizing the need for churches and schools, the community worked and donated funds for them.
A two-story frame building was constructed, near where Pleasant Hill Cemetery is now located. The building served as a school with two classrooms and church on the lower floor and as the Woodman of the World Lodge hall on the second floor.
Nolanville citizens got their first taste of ice cream in the summer 1893 when an ice cream supper was held. Few knew how to operate the freezer, and many tasted their first ice cream at that party.
Nolanville reached its peak as a town between 1890 and 1900 when it went into a holding pattern. A weekly newspaper, the Item, was started by 1896. The first telephone service in Nolanville was started, using barbed wire for lines. There were two lines, a south and a north, with Nolan Creek serving as the dividing line. Nolanville School, one of the larger rural schools in the county in the early twentieth century, had ninety pupils in 1903. The first automobile appeared between 1900 and 1910. It was the automobile that caused Nolanville businesses to decline because it made the trip to Belton or Killeen so much shorter.
In 1921 a new two-story brick school was built, and in 1938 the original part of the present school plant was built.
By the mid-1940s the community had 150 to 200 residents, but began to decline after the end of World War II. After dropping to fifty inhabitants in the 1950s, the town began to revive in the 1960s and had 200 residents and six businesses when it incorporated on March 27, 1961. By the late 1960s Nolanville was caught up in the expansion of the Killeen-Fort Hood area, and, as a suburban community, its population shot up to 740 in 1968.
Nolanville Common School District #50 ceased to exist in the spring of 1972. At that time it was annexed to the Killeen Independent School District by the Bell County Board of School Trustees. This action was requested by the Nolanville Board of School Trustees. The Nolanville Common School District was one of only three remaining common school districts in Bell County at that time. It was also uncommon for a school to consolidate because its enrollment and academic needs were greater than its capacity rather than because enrollment had dropped.
By 1974, Nolanville's population was 1,050, 1,726 in 1988 and 1,834 in 1990.
There were 781 households out of which 43.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.2% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.4% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.16.
In the city the population was spread out with 31.3% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 33.8% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 6.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,140, and the median income for a family was $38,045. Males had a median income of $26,490 versus $21,970 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,163. About 9.9% of families and 12.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over.