William R. Hunt

OLNEY, TEXAS. Olney, at the intersection of State highways 132, 114, 251, and 79 and Farm roads 210 and 3329, in north central Young County, was settled in 1879 and 1880 by Boone McCarty, L. Pankonon, and the Neely brothers. Pitts Neal formed a partnership with the Neelys to establish a site for annual roundups held by local ranchers. In 1889 John W. Groves donated two acres for a townsite, and J. M. Brisco built the first store. A post office was established when pioneer G. W. Hutchings agreed to carry the mail there from the Farmer post office. The name Olney came either from a news article noticed by Hutchings and the Farmer postmaster concerning Senator Roger Q. Mills's activities at Olney, Illinois, or from Richard Olney, secretary of state for President Cleveland. The first school opened in 1891. The town was incorporated in 1909 when rail service started with the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway, which discontinued service in 1954. Olney was moved a mile north to gain access to the line, and in 1910 the Gulf, Texas and Western began providing service, but ceased operations in 1942. Rail service was discontinued in 1942. Oil was discovered in 1923. With the production of the Swastika Pool in 1924 Olney became a leading oil town; it had three refineries and a population of 5,000 by 1930. In 1951 a tornado struck, killing two, injuring seventy-five, and causing $2 million in property damage. Olney had a population of 3,872 in 1960; 3,624 in 1970, when the town supported 116 businesses; and 4,060 in 1980. Olney is an agribusiness center and manufactures apparel, recreational vehicles, aluminum products, rubber hose, and agricultural airplanes. It has an airport, a hospital, a library, and a nursing home. In 1990 the population was 3,519. In 2000 it was 3,396.


Carrie J. Crouch, Young County: History and Biography (Dallas: Dealey and Love, 1937; rev. ed., A History of Young County, Texas, Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1956).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, William R. Hunt, "OLNEY, TX," accessed January 23, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgo01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 23, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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