In 1875 an 1876, when the Galveston Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad built through Gonzales County, this town was laid out to serve as a shipping point for the surrounding agricultural and ranching area. Hopkinsville, a thriving community five miles north, moved here to become the nucleus of Waelder.
Because of valuable services rendered to railroad interests in the early days, the GH&SA named the new town for the company attorney, Frederick Jacob Waelder (1820-1887).
Born in Germany, Waelder spent most of his life in Texas, where he was a lawyer, representative in the state legislature (1855-1859), and briefly an officer in the Confederate Army. He was also a leader of the German-Texas colonists in numerous undertakings.
The town of Waelder, which grew to be the second largest in the county by 1900, can trace the history of its populace back to the three waves of German immigrants who settled in Texas from 1831 to 1900.
Highly regarded by their neighbors, German citizens were considered frugal and industrious. Joining with Latin-Americans and Old South Anglo-Americans, the two other largest ethnic groups in Texas, they have left a distinctive mark on the culture of the state.