When I moved to Abilene in 1975, I considered myself an Abilenian then, and I am and always will be an Abilenian no matter what. I know Abilene is a great place to live and raise a family because I did just that.

Now, I thought I knew a lot about Abilene aka the 'Key City'. However, I keep learning more about Abilene every year. That being said, here are fifteen interesting, historical facts about Abilene that I have learned over the years, and I wanted to share them with you.

To learn more about Abilene and its history, I reached out to an old friend of mine, Jay Moore. Moore started as a banker and later went on to become a history teacher. If you want to know anything about Abilene, West Texas history, or Texas history, look to Jay Moore (as you'll see in the video above).

I highly recommend reading up on Abilene's history. I discovered that Abilene owes a lot of its history to the Texas and Pacific railroad and a group of cattle ranchers that lived here in west Texas around the 1870s, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

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At the risk of sounding redundant, I will say it again "I love to live in Abilene and I live to love in Abilene." Abilene is a conservative city that owes a lot to our military bases, hospitals, universities, and most importantly the farmers and ranchers that settled in and around the Key City.

These Are 15 Fascinating Historical Facts About Abilene:

  1. Cattle rancher Clairborne W. Merchant named Abilene, Texas, after the cattle town Abilene, Kansas. Source: TSHA
  2. Abilene was not originally the county seat; Buffalo Gap was. In 1883, after a heated election, Abilene won the seat because the Texas and Pacific Railway track ran through the middle of Abilene.
  3. J. Stoddard Johnston and H. C. Whithers, both with the Texas and Pacific Railway, laid out all the streets at the time. Those running east and west were to be number-named and the ones running north and south were named after trees.
  4. The first church to ever open in Abilene was a Presbyterian church. It opened two weeks before Abilene officially became a town.
  5. U.S. Army base Camp Barkeley operated during World War II and saw 1.9 million soldiers pass through its gates. At its peak, 50,000 soldiers were stationed at Camp Barkeley.
  6. In February 1944 the base became a prisoner of war camp. The camp held 840 German prisoners. Twelve of them escaped two months after it opened. They were all captured within days, beaten by the rough West Texas terrain.
  7. Dyess Air Force Base was originally 'Tye Army Air Field' and was part of Camp Barkeley until 1947, when it closed. It reopened as 'Dyess Air Force Base' in 1953.
  8. Well-known celebrities from Abilene include Ann Wedgeworth, Ty O'Neal, Fess Parker, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Ryan Guzman, Cris Judd, David W. Harper, Carole Cook, and Jessica Simpson. Source: Wikipedia
  9. Famous musicians from Abilene include Vinnie Paul, Mason Williams, Lee Roy Parnell, Micah P. Hinson, Chris Christian, Aaron Watson, and Mark Powell.
  10. Professional athletes from Abilene include: NFL - Case Keenum, Terry Orr, Johnny Knox, Bill Jones, Justin Snow; PGA - Billy Maxwell, Charles Coody, Bob Estes; IFBB - Kristy Hawkins; MLB - John Lackey; Olympics - Bobby Morrow, Billy Olson; NBA - Bill Sharman.
  11. It is illegal to sit idle or loiter anyplace within the corporate limits of the city to flirt.
  12. The droughts from the early 1900s until the 1940s were the catalysts for Abilene to excavate Lake Abilene in 1919, Lake Kirby in 1927, and Lake Fort Phantom Hill in 1937 to ensure the Key City had a municipal water supply. Source: TSHA
  13. Taco Bueno was started in Abilene in 1967 by Bill Waugh, an Abilene Christian College (ACU) art graduate. The first restaurant was located in Abilene on South First Street. Source: Wikipedia
  14. The name 'Abilene' comes from the bible's Luke 3:1. The verse sets the stage for the coming of John the Baptist and mentions 'Abilene' in the setting. The word means “plains or meadow”. Source: ARN and Bible Hub.com
  15. The Abilene Reporter-News & Abilene Printing are Abilene's oldest 'continuous' running businesses. Source: TSHA

LOOK: Here's where people in every state are moving to most

Stacker analyzed the Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey data to determine the three most popular destinations for people moving out of each state.

Gallery Credit: Amanda Silvestri

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