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Wheeler County TX
Wheeler County

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Wheeler County, Texas Panhandle

Old Route 66
( Just off Interstate 40 )
21 miles SW of Wheeler the county seat
5 miles W of Shamrock
80 miles E of Amarillo
Population: 135 est. (1990 to 2010)

Lela, Texas Area Hotels › Shamrock Hotels | Amarillo Hotels

Lela Texas - Lela 1928 High School
Lela 1928 High School
Photo Courtesy Rick Vanderpool, 2010
More Pitted Dates

History in a Pecan Shell

1902 was the year that Story, Texas appeared next to the tracks of the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad. The next year - Story had a post office and a newspaper. The postmaster changed the town's name to honor his sister-in-law. It's not recorded if there was any disruption in the mail service, or if it had the approval of the townspeople.

Shamrock started draining trade away from Lela and most businesses moved there. To add insult to injury - the town's students began attending school in Shamrock. There were only 50 people in Lela in 1947. Finally Shamrock took everything by having Lela's mail routed through them in the 1970s.

Lela Texas - Closed Lela  High School
The closed Lela High School
2nd and Maple St.
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010

Lela Texas - Closed Lela  High School
The Lela High School entrance
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010

Historical Marker: 2nd St. at Maple St.

Lela School

Soon after the establishment of this community along the proposed rail line for the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf railway in 1902, residents called for the creation of a school to serve their children. Both the community and the school were known as Story until the post office opened under the name Lela.

Fannie Womble served as the first teacher in the Story (Lela) school, with John Purcell, J. V. Ford and J. T. Close as first trustees. Although the community was founded because of its abundance of good underground water, it did not keep pace with Shamrock (5 mi. E) and by 1920 many of the residents and businesses had moved to Shamrock. About the same time, the long dry creek flooded and the community of Lela, including the school, moved up the hill one-half mile north of its original site.

The discovery and production of natural gas brought renewed prosperity to this farming and cattle region in the 1920s. After the Lela School building burned in 1927, civic leaders arranged for the construction of a new brick school building that would be large enough to accommodate the increased population brought on by the economic growth. Although the 1928 brick school building originally housed all grades, the top two grades were discontinued after several years, and Lela students traveled to Shamrock to complete their education.

After nearly 90 years, the Lela School district closed in 1992 and was annexed to the Shamrock school district. Its history remains a strong part of the rural heritage of Wheeler County.

Lela Texas - Lela  School historical marker
Lela School Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010

Lela Texas - Lela  School  established 1907
"Lela School est. 1907"
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010
More Texas Schoolhouses

Lela Texas - Church
Lela Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010
More Texas Churches

TX - Lela Cemetery
Lela Cemetery
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010
More Texas Cemeteries

Lela, Texas, Wheeler County, 1912 postmark
Post card canceled with Lela, TX 1912 postmark
Courtesy The John J. Germann Collection

Lela, Texas Forum

Subject: Lela, Texas
I've been enjoying looking at the information about Lela, TX. I am 78 years old and lived in Lela for a relative short time in 1932 or 33. My father was an Agent for the CRI&P RR and was Agent at Dodge City, KS before going to Lela. The depression was in full swing and the Railroad industry, like others, were reducing forces rapidly and without much thought about the consequences. My Dad had eleven clerks when the depression began and when they finally reduced that number to 1 he decided he just had to leave because of the work load. He looked at the current list of jobs (agents and telegraph operators) that were open for bid and decided to bid on Lela.

The Rock Island depot was two stories and the upper story was an area for the Agent and his family to live.

My dad thought the depot was unsafe during windstorms and I vividly rembering my parents, an older brother and a younger sister and me retreating to an old, dirt cave for safety. It was small and unpleasant and I think it must have been dug by a previous agent as it was located on the railroad right of way.

I don't remember much about the town except for the school and a couple of combination filling stations and general stores. For some time, I attended first grade in the school.

I only remember one family from Lela and I just can't draw their name out of my memory. They lived on a farm about half a mile south of the Depot. They had a boy which I think was only two or three years older than I. He had one foot without a heel which was the result of an accident while he was plowing.

I do remember a carbon black plant a mile or two west of the depot. While passing through the area a few years ago enroute San Diego, my wife and I drove south and located the old Rock Island road bed.

I started working on the Rock Island Railroad in 1944 and later went to the Santa Fe. I worked there for 38 years retiring Nov. 1, 1986. I lived in Topeka at the time of my retirement and my wife and I stilll live here.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who might give me some information about Lela during the era we were there. As I mentioned earlier, we were only there a few months before moving to McPherson, KS. - D. Caywood, November 19, 2005

See Route 66 | Texas Railroads

Wheeler County TX 1940s map
Wheeler County 1940s map showing Lela on the Rock Island RR
From Texas state map #4335
Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Take a road trip
Old Route 66
Texas Panhandle

Lela, Texas Nearby Cities & Towns:
Wheeler the county seat
Shamrock | Alanreed | McLean
See Wheeler County

Book Hotel Here:
Shamrock Hotels | Amarillo Hotels | More Hotels
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