Hico, a small city located in Hamilton County in Central Texas, has a town motto of
"Where Everybody Is Somebody!"
Hico was named by its founder for his unincorporated hometown in Calloway County in southwestern Kentucky, just north of the Tennessee state boundary. The original site was on Honey Creek, but when the Texas Central line part of the historic Katy Railroad was built nearby, the citizens moved two-and-a half miles to the rail line.
Hico was incorporated in 1883 and became the Hamilton County shipping center. Over the years, it became a cattle and cotton market. Today ranching and tourism dominate the local economy. In 1903, Kentucky-based evangelist Mordecai Ham held the first of his seventy-five Texas revival meetings in Hico. There were 150 professions of faith in Jesus Christ.
Ollie P. Roberts, usually known as Ollie L. Roberts, "Brushy Bill" Roberts, or William Henry Roberts, a resident of Hico during the late 1940s, claimed to have been the outlaw Billy the Kid. Although his assertion has been largely discredited by historians, the Hico Chamber of Commerce has capitalized on his infamy by opening a small Billy the Kid Museum, where visitors can decide whether Brushy Bill was indeed William H. Bonney. Bonney was born in New York City, but Brushy Bill claimed to have been born in Buffalo Gap south of Abilene, Texas. The museum offers a taped video presentation of Sam Donaldson, a native Texan, narrating an ABC documentary about Brushy Bill's claim. There is also a replica of a 19th-century jail in the museum and other artifacts of the period.
In the downtown is a marker devoted to Brushy Bill: "Ollie L. 'Brushy Bill' Roberts, alias Billy the Kid, died in Hico, Texas, December 27, 1950. He spent the last days of his life trying to prove to the world his true identity and obtain the pardon promised him by the governor of the state of New Mexico (Lew Wallace). We believe his story and pray to God for the forgiveness he solemnly asked for [sic]." Robert Stack did a segment on Roberts in the early 1990 on the NBC television series Unsolved Mysteries. That show also raised the possibility that history could be wrong.
Next to the Brushy Bill marker on North Pecan Street, is a large statue by the sculptor James Rice of Billy the Kid firing his gun. Downtown Hico, focused upon the Billy the Kid Museum on South Pecan Street, is a restored Western community with businesses appealing to tourists. There are, antique stores, gift shops, a Drink Shoppe, restaurants, and a gourmet popcorn shop. North and South Pecan are divided by Highway 6.
Each July Hico hosts Old Settlers Reunion at City Park. During the week the "Citizen of the Year" is recognized. Hico High School holds its homecoming observance at the same time as Old Settlers Day. Hico claims that its Old Settlers gathering, which dates to 1882, is the oldest of its kind in Texas. It has been held each year since 1882, except during World War II.
Hico has maintained a post office since 1861, and the first mail was carried by horseback. An early business was Hico Ice and Cold Storage, which began in 1905. In time, it developed a major shipping market for eggs, chickens, and turkeys. The Hico News Review, a weekly newspaper released on Thursdays, is a Texas Press Association Award winner.
Across Highway 281 from the Hico News Review is the First Baptist Church, one of several congregations in the community. The historic First United Methodist Church, also on Highway 281, was organized in 1881, with some twenty-five charter members. Six area churches later merged to become the Hico Methodist body. The current yellow brick sanctuary dates to 1903. The church is known for its support of both Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts.
Ranch life, including horseback riding, hayrides, and camping, can be experienced at Timber Creek Ranch some ten miles southeast of Hico on Texas Highway 6.
Hico also hosts the Annual Texas Steak Cookoff in May. It boasts thousands of guests every year.