Governor Oscar B. Colquitt signed legislation creating Jim Wells County on March 11, 1911. Taken from territory formerly a part of Nueces County, the new county was named for prominent Brownsville attorney and business leader James B. Wells, Jr. (1850-1923). The first county elections were held two months later, and in January 1912 the citizens of the new county approved a bond election to finance the construction of a courthouse and jail. The county commissioners hired San Antonio architect Atlee B. Ayers to design the courthouse. The laying of the cornerstone on July 25, 1912, drew a crowd of more than 2,000 people. Celebration activities included performances by the Alice Concert Band and the Alice Symphony Club, as well as a barbecue, rodeo events, and baseball game.
The discovery of oil in Jim Wells County in 1938 led to increased economic development and a population boom. The courthouse was remodeled in 1948-1949, and annexes later were built nearby. Although its original appearance has been altered, the Jim Wells County Courthouse stands as a significant structure in the county's history. It continues to serve as the center of county government.