The Texas & St. Louis Railway built its narrow gauge line through Navarro County in 1881 and surveyed a 270-acre town site here. The settlement was named for Richard C. Kerens (1842-1918), an official of the railroad in St. Louis, Missouri, who evidently never saw the town.
Streets and blocks were laid out in relation to the railroad, and some streets were named for railroad officials: Senter, Humphreys, Goodman, and Sloss, renamed for Kerens' daughter Mrs. Hamilton Colket, who visited here in 1941. The railroad became standard gauge in 1887, and was renamed St. Louis Southwestern in 1891.
Isolated cotton farmers moved from the prairie into the new town, and many residents of Wadeville (then two miles south) transferred their homes and businesses. In 1883 Theophilus Smith Daniel (1851-1933) moved his 1878 house from Wadeville to 200 S. Throckmorton Street in Kerens. Daniel was elected in 1888 to the first city council and was president of the first bank, established in 1900.
The first cotton gin was built in 1883, and cotton seed oil was processed after 1899. City gins produced 23,000 bales of cotton in 1933. The building of a state highway in 1931 along Second Street, and decline of the cotton industry greatly altered Kerens' growth and economy. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836 - 1986