Martindale was established in1855 by Nancy Martindale, who moved to Texas from Mississippi In 1851 and donated land for the townsite.
John Crayton, his son James Lasater Crayton and their slaves moved to the banks of the San Marcos River Ill what Is now downtown Martindale In 1839. On January 8, 1852, John Crayton sold the land to George Martindale that Nancy Martindale later donated for the town of Martindale. John Crayton moved to the Republic of Texas from Marion County Alabama but was born and married In Franklin County, Tennessee. He also donated the land for the Martindale City Cemetery. John Crayton lived in Martindale until his death In 1873.
A Baptist church was organized in 1858, and a post office was established in 1875, when the local population was less than fifty. In 1890 the town had four general stores and four gristmills and gins. By 1892 the population was 200. In 1905, Martindale had two schools with four teachers and 184 white students and one school with one teacher for 73 black students. Four churches, a hotel, three cotton gins, three stores, a bank, and telephone service were In operation by 1914. Twenty Martindale businesses served residents In 1931.
From 1910 to 1946, the population was 500. In 1949, cottonseed and hybrid seed corn companies near Martindale, Including the legendary Harper Seed Farm, supplied over 65 percent of the hybrid seed corn and a large percentage of the pedigreed cottonseed produced In Texas. The population of Martindale reached a high of 600 in 1957 but subsequently fell to 250 in 1969 and 210 in 1982, when only three businesses were active. In 1982, the town became the third in the county to incorporate. Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, built in 1908, was renovated by the parishioners' own labor in the mid-1980s and then was burned by an arsonist in 1991. After 1984, the local population increased, reaching 1,068 in 1988, when eleven businesses were in operation.
Today, Martindale is a thriving community experiencing a renaissance. New businesses are moving to town. The estimated population is over 1200 citizens in 2014, a 24% increase since 2000.
The City of Martindale is served by the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District. Hope Christian Academy is a private school run in Martindale for students ages preschool to middle school and is a ministry of Martindale Baptist Church. The city hosts an egg hunt each Easter. Every Fourth of July, the town holds an Independence Parade leading to a town picnic at the oak-shaded river bottom.
In recent years, Martindale has also attracted a surprising number of film scouts who are smitten by the town’s turn-of-the-century charm. As a result, various television shows, music videos and movies have been filmed in town. Each film crew has left its mark on the town over the years. From signage to a strand of wood beams sits on a vacant lot next to the bank—all that remains of a saloon that was constructed for one of the westerns.
In 2004, Carlton Carl, a Washington D.C. lobbyist, purchased 36,000 square feet (3,300 m2) of commercial property in downtown Martindale. A partial inventory of Carl’s purchase includes three empty general stores, a former bank, a cotton-seed weigh station, several warehouses, a movie-set courtroom, an aquarium filled with cotton plants, a seed elevator, 16 seed silos and 300 feet (91 m) of frontage on the San Marcos River. Carl has been working closely with the residents of Martindale to plan the next phase of the town's rejuvenation.