Pioneers came to this area as early as the 1860s. During the Civil War (1861-65), they built the temporary fortress settlement of Mugginsville on Deep Creek. At one time, a branch of the Western Cattle Trail passed nearby. Population increased after the arrival of the Texas Central Railroad in 1881. The town of Moran was established by Swope Hull, who opened a grocery store at the rail crossing on Deep Creek in 1883. He was postmaster of the community's first post office, called "Hulltown", which opened August 29, 1883. Hull bought 160 acres between Post Oak and Deep Creeks and platted a townsite in March 1884. Most of the property was bought by I.B. (Bem) Scott, who sold his interests in 1890 to M.D. Bray (1845-1926), a prominent local merchant and landowner.
The town's name was changed in 1890 to "Hicks" and in 1892 to "Moran" for Texas Central Railroad president John J. Moran. By the 1890s, the community had a school and Baptist, Church of Christ, Cumberland Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations. A newspaper was begun in 1895 and bank in 1902. Incorporated in 1919, Moran was a shipping point for drilling supplies during the oil and gas boom of 1910-30. Today the area's economy is based on farming, ranching, and oil and gas production.