Alexander VanWinkle owned the site before 1850. Two early roads crossed here: the Rome-Jasper Road and the Boonville-Leavenworth Road. The VanWinkle family in 1875 platted and sold lots to new residents. The name comes from Thomas Newton Bristow. He came from Cannelton after 1870. A young daughter died there in 1872. By 1880 he was back in Cannelton.

The flouring mill was built within a few years after 1875 and is operating today as Bristow Milling Company.

Bristow had a high school from 1908. The basketball team always gave Cannelton and Tell City a fight in the county tourney in the 1920s and 1930s.