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Stiles is near the intersection of Farm Road 1800 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 1890's. 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.
The first floor interior plan is a Greek cross with intersecting center hallways and four corner rooms measuring 16' square. The stairway is located in the west hallway. The courtroom and two other offices are located on the second floor. Interior detailing includes plaster walls, simple door/window trim and baseboard, transoms over doorways and a wooden chair rail in the courtroom. The ceiling on both floors is pressed tin and the floors are wooden. A small raised platform is the only distinguishing feature in the courtroom.
A limestone records vault is located to the east of the main structure. It was originally built to provide fireproof storage for the earlier frame courthouse that occupied the site. It has a stone barrel vault, but was originally roofed over with a shingle roof. The steel vault doors are still in possession of the owner.
Christmas of 1999 an arsonist set fire to the structure and gutted the place. Here is a clip from the news paper article. "A Midland man has been arrested and charged with 18 counts of arson following a lengthy investigation by local officers and Texas Rangers as well as local and area fire departments. Ralph Durwood Denton, 62, of Midland is charged with arson in 7 counties, including Reagan County. In Reagan County, Denton is charged with fires at the Johnson farm, a building near Reagan County gin, the old store at Stiles, and three attempts at the Stiles Courthouse itself."
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Last Updated: on 7/8/2018 11:43:20 AM Pacific Daylight Time (6:43 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum