The city got its name from one of the original founders/settlers, a successful wildcatter originally from England named Pleasant Smith "Plez" Humble, who opened the first post office in his home and later served as justice of the peace. The proper pronunciation of the city is "umble" (the "H" being silent), as the city's founder pronounced his last name in that manner.
As of the 2000 census, the city population was 14,579. The city shares a zip code with the small Houston neighborhood of Bordersville, although people who live in Bordersville still have Humble addresses.
Petroleum has been the basis of Humble's economy since its beginning. Loch Energy is headquartered in Humble; the city was the namesake for Humble Oil and Refining Company, which later merged with the Exxon corporation.
Downtown Humble is located on a salt dome and most of the petroleum production is shallow and encircles the city by about a 2.5 mile radius.
The first settlers began moving into the Humble area in the early 1800s. Joseph Dunman was thought to be the first person to settle here and was believed to have arrived in 1828. A ferry was built nearby, over the San Jacinto River, and the area of Humble became a center for commercial activity due to the region's large timber industry.
As mentioned above, the city got its name from one of the original founders/settlers, Pleasant Smith "Plez" Humble, who opened the first post office in his home and later served as justice of the peace. The reference which can't be edited indicates that he was a wildcatter, but he was probably more of a fisherman and later a grocer and storekeeper and perhaps even an attorney. In addition, he reportedly worked with timber to make railroad ties and mined gravel. In 1883 a city directory reported that he operated a fruit stand. In 1885, he was a wood dealer, and in 1900, the District 99, Justice Pct. 4, Harris Co., Texas Census reports his occupation as attorney at law.
The reference also indicates that Plez Humble was a native of England, but census records consistently show that he was a native of Louisiana, and in 1900 was reported to have been born in December 1834 in Louisiana.
Research indicates that he was most likely the son of Jacob C. and Francis (Knighton) Humble who married on July 24, 1827 in Amite, Mississippi and moved to Louisiana. Around 1860, Pleasant Smith Humble married Jane Elizabeth Markham. They had one son, William S. Humble, born in 1861. Jane Elizabeth died before 1910, and was reportedly buried at Humble Cemetery (see findagrave.com). Pleasant Smith Humble relocated to the Silsbee, Hardin Co., Texas area where his sister lived, and died there around 1912.
Humble became an oil boom town in the early 1900s when oil was first produced there. The first oil was produced a couple years after the famous Spindletop discovery in Beaumont, Texas. Railroad linkage was established in 1904 and shortly thereafter the first tank car of oil was shipped out of Humble's oil field. The Humble oil fields are still active and have produced over 138,835,590 barrels of oil. When the oil boom receded, many land owners returned to truck farming, dairy farming and the timber industry.
The town of Humble was incorporated in 1933. At that time, by vote of the City Council, racial segregation was invoked to make the town "lily white". The black population was forced to relocate their families as well as the graves of their dead to another location, outside the city limits. Starting in 1933, blacks began to move out of Humble. By 1935, almost everyone had moved.
There used to be a sawmill north of Humble that was owned by Mr. Bender, one of the founders of Humble. Blacks migrated from Gladysville, Cleveland, Splendora and Fastoria to work there. He was kind to the African-American people and gave them some property to live on and a place to bury their loved ones. The entire area is now referred to as Bordersville (informal), because the African-Americans were made to live outside the "border" of incorporated Humble. See Humble Negro Cemetery.
It remained a rather small, quiet city until the opening of the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,579 people, 5,460 households, and 3,652 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,477.5 people per square mile (570.3/km²). There were 5,908 housing units at an average density of 598.7/sq mi (231.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.24% White, 14.49% African American, 0.68% Native American, 3.22% Asian, 0.26% Pacific Islander, 9.07% from other races, and 3.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.36% of the population.
There were 5,460 households out of which 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 16.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.18.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 12.3% from 18 to 24, 31.8% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,834, and the median income for a family was $46,399. Males had a median income of $34,434 versus $26,988 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,678. About 12.2% of families and 15.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.2% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.
CityData.com states that the crime rates for Humble were higher than the average United States crime rate. The average crime rate for cities with under 30,000 people was 325.2; Humble's crime rate was at 744.4
Humble is served by the Humble Independent School District.
The city of Humble has three public elementary schools:
Humble is served by Ross Sterling Middle School (formerly by Humble Middle School in unincorporated Harris County) and Humble High School. All students attending the Humble Independent School District have the option to attend Quest High School, a magnet high school in the Atascocita section of unincorporated Harris County.
Humble is served by North Harris Montgomery Community College District.
The Harris County Public Library Octavia Fields Branch serves the community.