Up until about 1875, Belle Mead was part of Harlingen. It was a quiet farming region when about that time a New York contractor named Vanaken bought up all the local farms and set out to develop a city. He had the farms laid out into lots, some streets put through and named after the style of New York. He donated land for the railroad station that had a dining room underneath (the station was torn down in February, 1940). When Vanaken went broke the property was sold to a US Senator, John McPherson, who changed the name from Vanaken to Belle Mead in honor of his daughter, Edna Belle Mead McPherson.
Woods Tavern in Belle Mead was a popular stop for travelers for more than 100 years and played an important social and political role. Horace Greeley spoke there in 1872 when he campaigned for the presidency. The tavern burned down in 1932.