Stiles is near the intersection of State Highway 137 and Centralia Draw, eighteen miles north of Big Lake in north central Reagan County. Areas of massive limestone are found in and near Stiles. The area was on the Butterfield Overland Mail route in 1859–61 and was settled by sheep and goat ranchers in the 1890s. The town was named for Gordon Stiles, who donated land for the townsite. William G. Stiles applied for a post office, which was established in 1894, and a store was operated nearby. Because it was the only town in the county Stiles was chosen county seat of Reagan County when the county was organized in 1903. In 1907 John Marvin Hunter began publication of the Stiles Journal, the first newspaper in Reagan County. By 1910 Stiles had a population of 191 and a frame courthouse. The following year William Martin, of Comanche, built a new courthouse with stone quarried from a hillside near the town. In 1911 the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad bypassed Stiles in favor of a route through Big Lake. The original survey for the railroad included Stiles, but the right-of-way was changed to the southern part of the county when a rancher refused to grant permission for the road to cross his land. After the discovery of oil at the Santa Rita oil well near Big Lake in 1923, Stiles began to decline. Following an election on May 28, 1925, Big Lake became the county seat. By 1925 the population of Stiles had fallen to seventy-five, and by 1939 the post office had been discontinued. From 1966 to 1990 the population was estimated at sixteen. In 2000 the population was four.
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.
Glenn Justice | © Texas State Historical Association
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