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First county in Panhandle organized

April
12
1879

On this day in 1879, Wheeler County became the first organized county in the Texas Panhandle. The Kiowas and Comanches, who displaced the earlier Apache peoples around 1700, dominated the area until the mid-1870s. By that time buffalo hunters had already established a settlement, called Hidetown or Sweetwater, in the area. The U.S. Army established Fort Elliott near Hidetown in 1875, and the first post office in the Panhandle opened there in 1878. The legislature established Wheeler County, named for Royal T. Wheeler, in 1876. Three years later, the residents of the area petitioned for county organization, which became official on April 12. The small camp of Sweetwater became the first county seat; it was renamed Mobeetie in 1880.

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