Mobeetie was the first established town in the panhandle.
Old Mobeetie was known as the mother city of the panhandle because it was the first to be established. Then New Mobeetie came about when a railroad drew people closer to it for business.
In 1875, the US Government established Fort Elliot in Sweetwater Creek in Wheeler County to make sure Native Americans stayed on reservations. Soldiers helped develop Mobeetie, the first permanent settlement in the Texas Panhandle.
Old Mobeetie Texas Association President Joe VanZandt says, "Other counties became organized as they had enough signatures on their petitions to be organized. All 26 counties were attached to Wheeler County until they became counties themselves."
The name started out Sweetwater because of Sweetwater Creek which gave good water to the Indians. But when the community applied for its trading post with the name Sweetwater for the town, they found out there was already another town in Texas with that name.
VanZandt says, "So they turned to some Indians around that were close. And they asked them what the name for Sweetwater was. And they said Mobeetie. So that became the name, Mobeetie. Now, there's several versions of what Mobeetie stands for in the Indian language. One of the names that Mobeetie stands for is buffalo dung. So there's a lot of jokes going on around."
They were able to establish the trading post in 1878. There were many factors that hurt Old Mobeetie's economy and growth. The Miami Railroad, located on the outskirts of town, took many residents away from Mobeetie.
There was also the closing of Fort Elliot. And then disaster struck. VanZandt says, "First recorded tornado in the area happened in 1898. And almost wiped Mobeetie off the map. This jail building remained pretty well on scape. Except it knocked the pupil off on top of it. And had never been replaced. There was about three or four houses that remained in the town."
In 1927 another railroad, about two miles North of town, attracted farmers and ranchers. This spurred the beginning of New Mobeetie.
VanZandt says, "New Mobeetie resulted then. A lot of people moved from Old Mobeetie to New Mobeetie. And in other words, we just ceased having just Mobeetie. We had Old Mobeetie and New Mobeetie. And a lot of the people moved up by some of the buildings up there."
Several businesses moved close to it during the 1930's and 1940's. He says, "That went along fairly well. We had a thriving economy until after in the 50's. And it started to decline then." The railroad was later removed due to lack of economic activity.
Old and New Mobeetie is divided by State Highway 152 with the new part being on the North side and the old in the South.
Old Mobeetie has the Jailhouse Museum, Visitor Center, and Cemetery. And New Mobeetie has the post office, bank, oil field, and fire dept.