The word "West" is a Germanic word passed into some Romance languages (ouest in French, oest in Catalan, ovest in Italian, oeste in Spanish and Portuguese). As is apparent in the Gothic term vasi (Visigoths), it stems from the same Indo-European root that gave the Sanskrit vas-ati (night) and vesper (evening) in Latin.
The first settlers of northern McLennan County arrived in the 1840s. They were farm and ranch families drawn from the east by the rich lands made available by the government sale of land to build schools in Texas. The area farmers cultivated the land and grew cotton, wheat, and grain sorghum, and raised cattle. The farming community centered around a freshwater spring that became known as Bold Springs. In 1860, Bold Springs had a population of about 300 and provided services such as a blacksmith, churches, and a post office.
The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad was laid between Hillsboro and Waco in the fall of 1881. The path of the railroad passed through land owned by Thomas West, who had moved to the area in 1859. He farmed land that he had purchased and served as postmaster of Bold Springs. A train depot was built on the land he sold to the railroad company and the land running beside the tracks was divided into small sections and sold to people wanting to start businesses. The new depot included a post office, and from that time forward it was known as the West Post Office. Mr. West served as postmaster and opened the first general store. He became a successful businessman and later owned a hotel, a furniture store, and a bank.