Bartlett Texas is a station on the Katy Railroad, at the cross roads of highway 95 and 487 and straddles the county line between Williamson and Bell counties. Settlers were in the area as early as 1851, but Bartlett was founded in 1881 when the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company surveyed for a right of way. John T. Bartlett donated the land for the town, along with JE Pietzsch. The town was incorporated in 1890.
Bartlett Texas served as a shipping point for cotton, grain, livestock, and produce in the early years. It started with 300 townsfolk, a gin, a hotel, a grocer, a meat market, four churches, and a school. After incorporation it had a bank, two weekly newspapers (the Democrat and the Tribune), a Masonic lodge, and a waterworks.
In 1909 investors chartered the Bartlett-Florence Railway Company (eventually renamed the Bartlett Western), which slowly built a new railway west from Bartlett; the town prospered as the eastern terminus and main depot of the line. Bartlett served as a shipping point for cotton, grain, livestock, and produce in 1914, the same year it reached its peak population of some 2,200 inhabitants and had three banks, electric lighting, and three cotton gins.
In the 1920's-30's the cotton industry was on the decline and the Bartlett Western experienced financial difficulties and eventually closed in 1935. The town was also heavily dependent on cotton and declined somewhat in this period, though in 1931 it was still a substantial community of 1,873 people and ninety-five businesses. Bartlett continued to shrink during the depression and later so that by 2000 the population was 1,675.