Dickinson is the one of the oldest settlements on the mainland of Galveston County still in existence. The town’s name came from an early settler that purchased a league of land from Stephen F. Austin’s colony in 1824. Early families ranched and farmed the area. Following the Civil War, the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad was built to connect the large cities of Galveston and Houston. This provided an opportunity for growth in Dickinson as well.
Confederate General Ebenezer Nichols was a prominent wholesale merchandiser in Galveston in the mid to late 1800s. Nichols chose a spot along Dickinson Bayou to become his summer residence and plantation. Later, his son established the Dickinson Land and Improvement Company, built the first bridge over the bayou, and promoted the town as a farming and resort community. Near the G,H, & H rail tracks he created a park with a race track known as the Dickinson Picnic Grounds. Visitors from Houston and Galveston attended events there via the interurban electric rail. During the Texas Coast Fair of 1895, 5,000 people came for a special “Galveston Day.”
After the 1900 Storm that devastated all parts of the county, land became cheap in Dickinson and many new farmers settled the area. What had been a cotton or cane growing area, became dominated by farms growing fruit and various vegetables for market. Many Italian immigrants settled in Texas in the late 1800s, and Dickinson grew to be the largest Italian community in the county.