a Pecan Shell
1902 was the year that Story, Texas appeared next to the tracks
of the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad. The next year
- Story had a post office and a newspaper. The postmaster changed
the town's name to honor his sister-in-law. It's not recorded if there
was any disruption in the mail service, or if it had the approval
of the townspeople.
Shamrock started draining trade
away from Lela and most businesses moved there. To add insult to injury
- the town's students began attending school in Shamrock.
There were only 50 people in Lela in 1947. Finally Shamrock
took everything by having Lela's mail routed through them in the 1970s.
| The closed Lela
2nd and Maple St.
Gibson, March 2010
|The Lela High
Gibson, March 2010
|Lela School Historical
Gibson, March 2010
Soon after the
establishment of this community along the proposed rail line for the
Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf railway in 1902, residents called for
the creation of a school to serve their children. Both the community
and the school were known as Story until the post office opened under
the name Lela.
Fannie Womble served as the first teacher in the Story (Lela) school,
with John Purcell, J. V. Ford and J. T. Close as first trustees. Although
the community was founded because of its abundance of good underground
water, it did not keep pace with Shamrock
(5 mi. E) and by 1920 many of the residents and businesses had moved
to Shamrock. About the same time,
the long dry creek flooded and the community of Lela, including the
school, moved up the hill one-half mile north of its original site.
The discovery and production of natural gas brought renewed prosperity
to this farming and cattle region in the 1920s. After the Lela School
building burned in 1927, civic leaders arranged for the construction
of a new brick school building that would be large enough to accommodate
the increased population brought on by the economic growth. Although
the 1928 brick school building originally housed all grades, the top
two grades were discontinued after several years, and Lela students
traveled to Shamrock to complete
After nearly 90 years, the Lela School district closed in 1992 and
was annexed to the Shamrock school
district. Its history remains a strong part of the rural heritage
of Wheeler County.
I've been enjoying looking at the information about Lela, TX . I am
78 years old and lived in Lela for a relative short time in 1932 or
33. My father was an Agent for the CRI&P RR and was Agent at Dodge
City, KS before going to Lela. The depression was in full swing and
the Railroad industry, like others, were reducing forces rapidly and
without much thought about the consequences. My Dad had eleven clerks
when the depression began and when they finally reduced that number
to 1 he decided he just had to leave because of the work load. He
looked at the current list of jobs (agents and telegraph operators)
that were open for bid and decided to bid on Lela.
The Rock Island depot was two stories and the upper story was an area
for the Agent and his family to live.
My dad thought the depot was unsafe during windstorms and I vividly
rembering my parents, an older brother and a younger sister and me
retreating to an old, dirt cave for safety. It was small and unpleasant
and I think it must have been dug by a previous agent as it was located
on the railroad right of way.
I don't remember much about the town except for the school and a couple
of combination filling stations and general stores. For some time,
I attended first grade in the school.
I only remember one family from Lela and I just can't draw their name
out of my memory. They lived on a farm about half a mile south of
the Depot. They had a boy which I think was only two or three years
older than I. He had one foot without a heel which was the result
of an accident while he was plowing.
I do remember a carbon black plant a mile or two west of the depot.
While passing through the area a few years ago enroute San Diego,
my wife and I drove south and located the old Rock Island road bed.
I started working on the Rock Island Railroad in 1944 and later went
to the Santa Fe. I worked there for 38 years retiring Nov. 1, 1986.
I lived in Topeka at the time of my retirement and my wife and I stilll
I would be pleased to hear from anyone who might give me some information
about Lela during the era we were there. As I mentioned earlier, we
were only there a few months before moving to McPherson, KS. - D.
Caywood, November 19, 2005
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