Olney, at the intersection of State highways 132, 114, 251, and 79 and Farm roads 210 and 3329, in north central Young County, was settled in 1879 and 1880 by Boone McCarty, L. Pankonon, and the Neely brothers. Pitts Neal formed a partnership with the Neelys to establish a site for annual roundups held by local ranchers. In 1889 John W. Groves donated two acres for a townsite, and J. M. Brisco built the first store. A post office was established when pioneer G. W. Hutchings agreed to carry the mail there from the Farmer post office. The name Olney came either from a news article noticed by Hutchings and the Farmer postmaster concerning Senator Roger Q. Mills's activities at Olney, Illinois, or from Richard Olney, secretary of state for President Cleveland. The first school opened in 1891. The town was incorporated in 1909 when rail service started with the Wichita Falls and Southern Railway, which discontinued service in 1954. Olney was moved a mile north to gain access to the line, and in 1910 the Gulf, Texas and Western began providing service, but ceased operations in 1942. Rail service was discontinued in 1942. Oil was discovered in 1923. With the production of the Swastika Pool in 1924 Olney became a leading oil town; it had three refineries and a population of 5,000 by 1930. In 1951 a tornado struck, killing two, injuring seventy-five, and causing $2 million in property damage. Olney had a population of 3,872 in 1960; 3,624 in 1970, when the town supported 116 businesses; and 4,060 in 1980. Olney is an agribusiness center and manufactures apparel, recreational vehicles, aluminum products, rubber hose, and agricultural airplanes. It has an airport, a hospital, a library, and a nursing home. In 1990 the population was 3,519. In 2000 it was 3,396.

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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Olney by the Numbers

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Population Counts

Pop. Year Source
3,007 2020 United States Census Bureau
3,138 2019 Texas Demographic Center
3,285 2010 United States Census Bureau
3,396 2000 United States Census Bureau
3,519 1990 United States Census Bureau
4,060 1980 United States Census Bureau
3,624 1970 United States Census Bureau
3,872 1960 United States Census Bureau
3,765 1950 United States Census Bureau
3,497 1940 United States Census Bureau
4,138 1930 United States Census Bureau
1,164 1920 United States Census Bureau
1,095 1910 United States Census Bureau