Tomball is a city in Harris county in the U.S. state of Texas, a part of the Houston metropolitan area. The population was 9,089 at the 2000 census. In 1907, the community of Peck was renamed Tomball. The city (and the local school district) are named for local congressman Thomas Henry Ball, who had a major role in the development of the Port of Houston.
On Tuesday, September 7, 2010, the City of Tomball City Council voted down a proposal to make the English language the official language of the city, and it voted down a measure that would have forbidden illegal immigrants from owning and/or renting property and operating and/or owning businesses.
Settlement began in the Tomball area in the early 19th century, where immigrants found an open, fertile land that received adequate rainfall—perfect conditions for farming and raising cattle. However, it was not until 1906 that the area began to boom. Railroad line engineers noticed that the Tomball area was on the boundary between the low hills of Texas and the flat coastal plains of the Gulf, making it an ideal location for a train stop. The railroad could load more cargo on each car because the topography gently sloped toward the Galveston ports and provided an easier downhill coast. Thomas Henry Ball, an attorney for the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad, convinced the railroad to run the line right through downtown Tomball. Soon after, people came in droves to this new train stop. Hotels, boarding houses, saloons, and mercantile stores all began to spring up in the area. At first, people called the area Peck, after a chief civil engineer of the railroad line. However, on December 2, 1907, the town was officially named Tom Ball, later to be shortened to one word for Mr. Ball. While the boom of the railroad lasted less than a decade, the oil and gas industry began to leave its mark on the area. Oil probe instruments often indicated that oil was just underneath Tomball, especially after the Spindletop gusher in Beaumont. Although early exploration came up dry, the town remained a frenzy of activity for those who dreamed of oil. Undaunted by the challenges, the persevering spirit of Tomball’s citizens proved rewarding when a drill hit a 100-foot gusher of oil on May 27, 1933. Tomball, which people began to call “a floating island of oil,” was immediately flooded with over two dozen oil companies, which drew thousands of workers and boosted the economy like never before. One major player, the Humble Oil Company, struck a deal with the town through which they would provide gas free of charge to the residents in exchange for rights to drill on the land, this agreement lasted until 1988 when the reservoirs began to be depleted.