Lelia Lake, on U.S. Highway 287 in central Donley County, was established in the late 1880s as a flag station on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. It was originally named Lelia after Lelia Payne, the sister-in-law of G. A. (Gyp) Brown, the town's founder and the first judge for Donley County. When the community's post office was established in December 1906, however, the word Lake was added to its name to distinguish it from Lela, Texas, in Wheeler County. The railroad section house and depot were the townsite's first buildings. In 1894 the first school was opened at the community. By 1915 Lelia Lake had several stores, two banks, two gins, a lumberyard, a barbershop, and a resident physician. In 1925 its population was estimated at 150. Two years later the estimate had risen to 300, and by 1929 it was 500. Four churches were established by 1930. The Great Depression closed the banks, however, and by 1933 the population had dropped to 150. Lelia Lake gained some publicity in 1940, when the family of D. E. Leathers, son of one of the town's pioneers, was selected as the Typical American Family by the Texas Chamber of Commerce in Fort Worth. The town has been noted for watermelon production and as a grain-shipping point. The population of Lelia Lake decreased from 500 in 1947 to 300 in 1950 and 125 in 1970. In 1984 the community had three businesses, a town hall, a gin, a church, and a post office. Through 2000 the community's population was still reported as 125.