As the seat of Erath County, Stephenville began in 1850 with the settlement by the Stephens brothers around the area. One of the brothers, John, donated the original townsite.
Among several industries in Stephenville is one of the largest tree nurseries in the Southwest. The area is the state's leading producer of the popular Coastal Bermuda range grass, and the county is the state's largest dairy producer. Stephenville is the home of Tarleton State University, which features the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center, Gallery, as well as, the TSU Planetarium. Stephenville is recognized in Norman Crampton's book, "The 100 Best Small Towns in America."
Events include the Cowboy Capital Walk of Fame parade, induction and PRCA Rodeo in the spring; Firecracker 100 Bike Race, DairyFest and Concert in the Park series in the summer; the Annual Antiques Show & Sale, and the Texas Dairy Farm & Ranch Show in the Fall.