Latitude / Longitude:
32° 16′ 13″ N, 98° 33′ 1″ W
Central (CST) (UTC-6)
Desdemona is a former oil boomtown and virtual ghost town located in Eastland County east of Abilene in West Texas. The community is located on Texas State Highway 16 at Farm-to-Market Roads 8 and 2214, approximately twenty miles southeast of the county seat of Eastland and twenty miles west of Stephenville, site of Tarleton State University.
Dating to 1857, Desdemona was one of the first Texas towns established west of the Brazos River. Settlers constructed a small fort on land owned by C.C. Blair for protection from Comanche Indian attacks. In 1873, Rockdale Baptist Church, the first organization of any kind in Eastland County, was constructed. Two years later, the brothers William and Ben Funderburg acquired the former Fort Blair land and proceeded to develop the community, then called Hogtown on Hog Creek. A post office was authorized in 1877 under the name “Desdemona”, a reference not to the character from Shakespeare, but the daughter of an area justice of the peace. During the 1890s, agriculture was important in Desdemona, particularly peanuts. The population reached 340 in 1904.
In 1976, ninety wells were still producing oil or natural gas in the Desdemona field, and a Mobil plant was producing butane. In 1980 and again in 2000, the Desdemona population was reported as 180. As of 2013 three businesses remain in the town.
Oil production dropped from more than seven million barrels in 1919 to fewer than three million in 1921. The boom ended nearly as quickly as it began, and much of the newer population abandoned the community. Another fire in 1921 destroyed an entire block. The Lone Star Hotel was also burned. With few residents, Desdemona dissolved its municipal government in 1936, and the general area has since been governed by Eastland County. The Desdemona public school (grades 1-12) was built in 1922, expanded as a Works Progress Administration project in 1937, and closed because of lack of enrollment in 1969.