Brenham, the county seat of Washington County, is named in honor of Richard Fox Brenham, a local physician. In 1858, the town became an agricultural center supported first by the Washington County Railroad (1860) and later the Houston and Texas Central Railway. The community experienced a yellow fever epidemic in 1867, the burning of commercial buildings during Reconstruction, and major fires in 1873 and 1877. Despite these setbacks, Brenham continued to expand with a number of important industries, including a brickwork plant and a cast-iron storefront company, Beaumier Brothers Iron Works (1883, 1925) at 311 S. Baylor Street. The arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1880 aided the town's growth and encouraged the immigration of mostly German families arriving through Galveston. The German influence remained strong in the community and contributed to its recognition as a center for education, industry, and commerce. Headquartered in town is Blue Bell Creamery, formerly the Brenham Creamery Company (1907), Texas's best-known ice cream brand.
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