Merkel, off Interstate Highway 20 seventeen miles west of Abilene in northwestern Taylor County, was founded in the early 1880s when the Texas and Pacific Railway arrived; it was first known as the "Windmill Town." The community, a shipping point like many other towns in the area, was renamed in 1881 for its first settler, S. M. Merkel. J. L. Vaughan, the railroad agent, became postmaster and telegraph operator in June 1883, when the post office opened. In 1882 the widow Rollins built the first general store. The population was twenty-five in 1885 and 400 in 1890, when the town had four churches and a school. The Methodist church was built in 1882 and organized by Rev. R. F. Dunn. The First Baptist Church was built in 1885, Grace Presbyterian in 1886, and the Church of Christ in 1903. The first school, conducted in the train depot, was taught by Mrs. A. M. Thornton; seven children enrolled. In 1887 a school building was built on county land donated to accommodate the growth. In the 1897–98 term there were 178 children in the Merkel school district. A college opened in 1887 and enrolled about 100 the next year. This institution lasted only four years. The 1897 population was 600.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

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Merkel is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Windmill Town)


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Merkel by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
2,471 2020 United States Census Bureau
2,656 2019 Texas Demographic Center
2,590 2010 United States Census Bureau
2,637 2000 United States Census Bureau
2,469 1990 United States Census Bureau