City (pop., 2000: 115,930), west-central Texas, U.S. Founded in 1881 as the new railhead for the overland Texas cattle drives, it took the business of the previous railhead, Abilene, Kan. It is the site of several educational institutions, the West Texas Fair, and the reconstructed Old Abilene Town.
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Abilene began as a stage coach stop in 1857, established by Timothy Hersey and Eliza Hersey and named from a passage in the Bible, meaning "city of the plains." The town grew quickly when Joseph G. McCoy decided to use the town for the location of his stockyards.
With the railroad pushing west and the cattle traders soon used Abilene as the largest stockyards west of Kansas City. The Chisholm Trail ended in Abilene and brought in many travelers and made Abilene one of the wildest towns in the west.
Town marshal Tom "Bear River" Smith was initially successful policing Abilene, often using only his bare hands. He survived two assassination attempts during his tenure. However, he was murdered and decapitated on November 2, 1870. Smith wounded one of his two attackers during the shootout preceding his death, and both suspects received life in prison for the offense. He was replaced by Wild Bill Hickok in April of 1871. Hickock's time as marshal was short lived. While standing off a crowd during a street brawl, gambler Phil Coe took two shots at Hickock, who returned fire killing Coe, but then accidentally shot his friend and deputy, Mike Williams, who was coming to his aid. He lost his job two months later in December.
In 1880 Conrad Lebold built what the newspapers called the finest house west of Topeka. Lebold was one of the early town developers and Bankers from 1869 through 1889. The Hersey dugout can still be seen in the cellar of the Lebold Mansion.
In 1890, Dr. A.B. Seelye founded the A.B. Seelye Medical Company. Seelye developed over 100 products for the company including "Wasa-Tusa," an Indian name meaning to heal.
Abilene became home to Dwight D. Eisenhower when his family moved to Abilene from Denison, Texas in 1892 where he attended elementary school through high school. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library is located in Abilene. It is now the burial site of President Eisenhower, his wife, Mamie, and one son.
The area receives nearly of precipitation during an average year with the largest share being received in May and June—which when combined average 20 days of measurable precipitation. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 22 to . There are on average 79 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages about 14 inches, but the median is less than . Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 7 days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on five of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 11 days per year.
|Notes: Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation includes rain and melted snow or sleet in inches; median values are provided for precipitation and snowfall because mean averages may be misleading. Mean and median values are for the 30-year period 1971–2000; temperature extremes are for the station's period of record (1948–2001). The station is located one mile (1.6 km) west of Abilene at 38°55′N 97°14′W, elevation .|
There were 2,836 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 20.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,778, and the median income for a family was $46,052. Males had a median income of $31,971 versus $17,361 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,356. About 4.8% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.2% of those under age 18 and 14.9% of those age 65 or over.