After Texas independence the area was part of the disputed territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande, but with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgoqv in 1848 it became part of the state of Texas. Originally the site of the future Jim Wells County fell under the jurisdiction of San Patricio County, but a short time later it was incorporated into newly formed Nueces County.Anglo settlement in the region was slow at first but increased after the Civil War.qv Collins, the first sizable American settlement, was established in 1878. The town, located about three miles east of the site of present-day Alice, became a stop on the Corpus Christi, San Diego and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad, when tracks were laid through the area the following year. By 1885 Collins had a post office and five stores. But a few years later, when the Texas and New Orleans bypassed the town, the buildings were loaded onto train cars and moved to the junction of the new road with the Texas-Mexican Railway, three miles to the west. The new town, originally known as Bandana, was renamed Alice and soon became the busiest shipping point for cattle in South Texas.
Because of the long distance residents had to travel in order to conduct business at the county seat in Corpus Christi, they petitioned for the formation of a separate county. The request was approved by the legislature in early 1911, and the county's first commissioners' court meeting was held on March 18, 1911. The new county was formally organized in 1912, and named for James B. Wells, Jr.,qv who played an important role in the economic development of the lower Rio Grande valley. When the county was established, its population of 887 was chiefly resident in Alice, which was made county seat. -Handbook of Texas Online: Jim Wells County