Wheeler County is a rural county in the eastern Panhandle. The estimated 1997 population is 5,309. There are three incorporated towns in the county; Wheeler, the county seat (pop. 1,411), Shamrock (pop. 2,159), and Mobeetie (pop. 153). Other communities are Allison, Briscoe, Kelton, Lela and Pakan. The county was organized in 1879 and named after R.T. Wheeler, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Mobeetie was the first county seat. The county seat was moved to Wheeler in 1905.
Mobeetie, then known as Hide Town, was the first town in the Panhandle. It grew around Fort Elliott, which was built in 1875, and was a headquarter for the many buffalo hunters who worked in the Panhandle. Two major highways run through the county. Interstate 40 runs east-west near the south county line and US 83 runs north-south through the middle of the county. Wheeler is on US 83 and Shamrock is located at the junction of I-40 and US 83. The county is a rolling plain with sandhills, creeks and the Red River. Annual rainfall is 22 inches and the growing season is 208 days. The average date for the last killing frost is April 1 and the average date for the first killing frost is October 25. Agriculture is the primary source of income in the county with a total of $80 million. Major commodities include fed beef, beef cows, stocker cattle, hay, wheat, cotton and peanuts. Livestock sales accounted for 95% of the total and 5% from crops. Abundant wildlife resources offer an opportunity to supplement agricultural income.
There are 505 farms with an average size of 1, 018 acres. Attractions for tourists include Shamrock’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration, and Wheeler’s July 4th Celebration, Old Mobeetie Jail and Museum, and Mobeetie’s Bluegrass festival. There is an opportunity to develop wildlife for hunters and bird watchers.