The city of Terrell is very fortunate to have three houses still standing that were built between 1860 and the late 1870s. The oldest home in Terrell and in Kaufman County is the Robert Adams Terrell home. The town of Terrell was named after Robert Adams Terrell when it was incorporated in 1873. Captain Terrell (as he was called) came to this part of the country in 1839 as a Nacogdoches County surveyor. This was Nacogdoches County at that time. Kaufman County was not formed until 1848. The headrights and bounty lands citizens and soldiers had received from the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) needed to be surveyed. Miss Emily Love of San Augustine, daughter of Judge John G. Love became Terrell's bride in 1846. They came to this location soon after marrying and built a log cabin and raised their nine children in that structure. It was located just to the south of the present house. Robert Terrell said he "once killed a bear in their front yard and he could sit on his front porch and shoot deer and turkey." This octagonal house originally faced south. It was turned to face west in 1914 when this college campus became Texas Military College. It served as the college mess hall for many years.
It was built circa 1865 and possibly as early as 1860, since a master carpenter, M. Goodfellow from New Brunswick, Canada was living in Terrell's household on the 1860 census. Robert Terrell was gone to the War Between the States between 1861 and 1865. The architecture was a very new and novel idea and innovative for its time. Legend had that it was built this way to look out for the Indians, but that isn't so. The Indians were long gone from Kaufman County by the time this house was built. It was built this way for the light and the air to circulate. It was the first house with window glass in the county. The logs for the foundation were brought up by wagon from East Texas and hand hewn on the site. When the floor was removed a few years ago, the ax marks were still visible. There are only two octagonal houses left in Texas.
More can be learned about the history of Robert Adams Terrell and his contribution to the great State of Texas in Dr. Horace P. Flatt's book, "Cap'n Terrell's Town."