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Reagan County Texas
Founded in 1903 from Tom Green County
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.
In 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 Texas.
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 Association.]Photo by Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0.
CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES
* Big Lake * Best * Stiles * Texon *
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