Founded in 1903 from Tom Green
Named in honor of John Henninger
Reagan (1818-1905), who served as postmaster general of the
Confederate States of America and also as a U.S. Senator, U.S.
Representative, and first chairman of the Railroad Commission of
Texas. The county seat is Big Lake.
1858, the Butterfield Overland Mail missed the springs when planners
drew its stage route along Centralia Draw across the center of the
county, but a source of fresh water was the first consideration when
an outpost for Fort Concho was selected on April 30, 1878. Both the
springs and the camp were named in honor of Col. Benjamin H.
Grierson, who located the camp at the site. Camp Grierson was part
of the army's plan to protect white society in the area from Indian
attack and ultimately to eliminate the Indians from
At different times, companies D, E, and F of the
Tenth Cavalry, Company K of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, and Company K
of the Twenty-fourth Infantry were stationed there. The camp was
abandoned in 1882 when Grierson and his Tenth Cavalry were
transferred from Fort Concho to Fort Davis. On May 26, 1885, George
W. Wedemeyer stopped at the springs and described the camp as in
ruins. P. H. Coates, whose family arrived in a train of seventeen
wagons in 1885, also camped at the springs.
By the 1890s sheep and goat ranchers
had moved into the central area of the county near the homesite of
another early settler, Gordon Stiles, on Centralia Draw. The
local post office, named for Stiles, was established in 1894, and a
store opened there before 1900.
Reagan County was carved from
Tom Green County in 1903 and named for Senator John H. Reagan, the
first chairman of the Railroad Commission. Stiles became the first
county seat. After constructing two temporary frame courthouses,
county officials built a striking two-story white stone building in
1911. In May 1923 the focus of the area economy changed from
agriculture to petroleum when the Big Lake oilfield started
producing. The discovery opened the Permian Basin and all of West
Texas to oil exploration and production. Oil wells located on lands
given to the University of Texas in 1876 subsequently became a major
source of the institution's endowment. [Excerpted from: Julia Cauble Smith, "REAGAN COUNTY,"
Handbook of Texas Online; Published by the Texas State Historical
Cities, Towns and
Big Lake * Best *
Stiles * Texon