The town was established in 1847 by a Mary Hargrove Haller who founded the town on 100 acres of land she bought. She then named the town after her grandfather Robert Wooding Chappell. The area around the town was settled by planters from the Deep South and thanks to the fertile soil of the Brazos river valley, cotton became the area’s main crop.
A yellow fever epidemic, the result of the town’s proximity to the Brazos River, decimated the town in 1867. Many men who survived combat in the Civil War lost their lives just two years after the war’s end. The town never recovered and faded into obscurity. Polish immigrants, mostly from the German partition, began to appear in the 1870s and the area was re-settled, though it did not reach the status of before. In 1889, Father Grabinger from Brenham’s St. Mary’s established St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church. Denizens of Polish ancestry can still be found in the area surrounding the church and throughout Washington and Austin counties.
Chappell Hill today has a tourist economy, attracting visitors with restored homes, Bluebonnet Festival, Scarecrow Festival and a museum. Main Street has been designated as a National Register Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. Chappell Hill remains one of the best historically preserved towns in Texas.