WHEELER, TEXAS. Wheeler, the county seat of Wheeler County, is at the junction of U.S. Highway 83 and State Highway 152, near the geographical center of the county. Both the town and the county were named after Royal T. Wheeler. The vicinity was first settled by ranchers as early as 1881, and by 1886 five families lived there. The town had its real beginning in 1904 through the enterprise of two ranchers, Robert B. Rogers and J. E. Stanley, who surveyed the land, built their homes on the site, and began the movement to choose a centrally located county seat in preference to Mobeetie. Rogers became the first postmaster of Wheeler and also had the first telephone. The partners' land and town lot advertisements soon brought results, for by 1906 Wheeler had two real estate offices and two general stores. A contested election in December of that year made Wheeler the county seat, and by 1908 the frame courthouse had been moved to the new location. At that time a bank and a drugstore were established, and the first school was opened in a building that had been moved from Bronco. This building also served for a time as the community church. A weekly newspaper, the Wheeler Sun, also began about this time; it later became the Wheeler Times.
In 1910 Wheeler had a population of 300, a cotton gin, and several stores. By 1916 three churches had been established. After disastrous fires in 1920 and 1922, the town quickly built back its business district with more durable structures. In 1925 the Wheeler citizens voted to incorporate and elected J. E. Stanley mayor. A new brick county courthouse replaced the original frame building. The following year the Panhandle Power and Light and the Wiley Gas companies began providing public utilities. In 1927 Ed Strantz installed a public water system, and modern school facilities were constructed. Although Wheeler never had a railroad and was ten miles from the nearest oil pool, the discovery of oil in the county caused the population to jump to 1,860 by 1929. By 1940 this number had dropped slightly to 848. Wheeler is the commercial center of a rich farming, ranching, and petroleum district. It had sixty businesses, five churches, a hospital, a nursing home, a library, and a new high school by 1970. The population was 904 in 1950, 1,174 in 1960, 1,116 in 1970, and 1,584 in 1980. Several large feedlots attest to its importance as an agribusiness center. The main street in Wheeler, U.S. Highway 83, is called Alan Bean Street in the city limits in honor of the astronaut who spent his early years in Wheeler. The population was 1,393 in 1990 and 1,378 in 2000.
Ray Miller, Eyes of Texas Travel Guide: Panhandle/Plains Edition (Houston: Cordovan, 1982). William Coy Perkins, A History of Wheeler County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Webster H. Willoughby, The History of Wheeler, Texas (M.A. thesis, West Texas State College, 1948).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.H. Allen Anderson, "WHEELER, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjw07), accessed February 11, 2016. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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