10 Historical Facts About Abilene and the Big Country
When I first moved to Abilene I thought to myself "Abilene is a small city with big ideas and a huge heart." Today I believe it's a bigger city but with that same huge heart its alwayd had. I know Abilene is a great place to live and raise a family.
Now, being here since the early '70s I've learned a lot about Abilene's history and I continue to learn more about the Key City every year. That being said, here are some interesting, historical facts about Abilene that I have learned over the years, and I wanted to share them with you.
All the sources I've researched are very interesting reads and I highly recommend reading up on Abilene's history. I discovered that Abilene owes a lot of its history to the Texas and Pacific railroad and a group of cattle ranchers that lived here in west Texas around the 1870s according to the Texas State Historical Association.
1. Cattle rancher, Clairborne W. Merchant named Abilene, Texas after Abilene, the Kansas cattle town. Source: TSHA
2. Abilene was not the county seat, Buffalo Gap was. In 1883, after a heated election, Abilene won the seat because the Texas and Pacific Railway track ran through the middle of Abilene.
3. Stoddard Johnston and H. C. Whithers, both with the Texas and Pacific Railway laid out all the streets at the time. Those running east and west were to be number named and the ones running north and south were named after trees.
4. The first church to ever open in Abilene was a Presbyterian Church. It opened two weeks before Abilene became a town officially.
5. U.S. Army base Camp Barkeley operated during World War II and saw 1.9 million soldiers pass through its gates. At its peak, 50,000 soldiers were stationed at Camp Barkeley.
6. In February 1944 the base became a prisoner-of-war camp. The camp held 840 German prisoners. Twelve of them escaped two months after it opened. They were all captured within days, tired, hungry, and beaten by the rough West Texas terrain.
7. Dyess Air Force Base was the original 'Tye Army Air Field' and was part of Camp Barkeley until 1947 when it closed. It reopened as 'Dyess Air Force Base' in 1953.
8. Actors and Actresses that are from Abilene include; Ann Wedgeworth, Ty O'Neal, Fess Parker, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Ryan Guzman, Cris Judd, David W. Harper, Carole Cook, and Jessica Simpson. Source: Wikipedia
9. Famous Musicians from Abilene Include; Vinnie Paul, Mason Williams, Lee Roy Parnell, Micah P. Hinson, Chris Christian, Aaron Watson, and Mark Powell.
10. Professional athletes that are from Abilene include NFL - Case Keenum, Terry Orr, Johnny Knox, Bill Jones, and Justin Snow; PGA - Billy Maxwell, Charles Coody, Bob Estes; IFBB - Kristy Hawkins; MLB - John Lackey; Olympics - Bobby Morrow, Billy Olson; NBA - Bill Sharman.
Here are some more interesting historical facts about Abilene Texas.
11. It is illegal to sit idle or loiter anyplace within the corporate limits of the city for the purpose of flirting or mashing.
12. The droughts from the early 1900s until the '40s were the catalysts for Abilene to excavate Lake Abilene in 1919, Lake Kirby in 1927, and Lake Fort Phantom Hill in 1937 to insure that the Key City had a municipal water supply. Source: TSHA
13. Taco Bueno was started in Abilene in 1967 by Bill Waugh, an Abilene Christian College (ACU) art graduate. The first store was located in Abilene, on South First Street. Source: Wikipedia
14. The name Abilene comes from the bible, Luke, 3:1. The verse sets the stage for the coming of John the Baptist and mentions “Abilene” in the setting. The word means, “plains or meadow.” Source: ARN and Bible Hub.com
15. The Abilene Reporter-News & Abilene Printing are the oldest 'continuous' running businesses in Abilene, Texas. In fact, Abilene Printing started in March while the Abilene Reporter started in June of 1881, in a tent, on the very spot where it sits today. Source: TSHA