This Day in Texas History: Cyclone Devastates Mobeetie
This Day in Texas History:
Cyclone Devastates Mobeetie
May 01, 1898
On this day in 1898, the Panhandle community of Mobeetie was devastated by a cyclone. The community, considered the “mother city” of the Panhandle, developed from Charles Rath and Bob Wright’s supply store on Sweetwater Creek at a buffalo-hunters’ camp called Hidetown in 1874, and grew to 150 residents the following summer as a trading post for nearby Fort Elliott.
The village was located at the southern end of the Jones and Plummer Trail and was a center of activity for the buffalo-hide trade. In 1879 the town applied for a post office and the Indian word mobeetie, possibly meaning “sweet water,” was chosen for the community.
Mobeetie became the seat of Wheeler County that same year. Throughout the 1880s it was the commercial center of much of the Panhandle, but it began a period of decline when Fort Elliott was abandoned in 1890. The town’s troubles increased in 1898, when a cyclone took seven lives and leveled many of the buildings, including the Huselby House hotel and the townhouse of pioneer cattleman Robert Masterson.
It is important to note that at the time of this event, the terms Cyclone, Twister and Tornado were used interchangeably. Today, the definition of Cyclone is applied to hurricanes and tropical storms with a slower revolving air mass.
Another blow occurred in 1907 when a controversial election made Wheeler the county seat. In 2000 Mobeetie was a small community with some 107 residents.