Abilene was an early cow town, established by Joseph G. McCoy in 1867 as a depot to which Texas cattle might be driven for shipment by rail to Kansas City. It was the northern terminus for both the Abilene Trail and the Chisholm Trail. Located on the Kansas Pacific Railway west of all settlement, Abilene was for two or three years a popular shipping point, until the westward advance of settlers forced the drovers to new cow towns still farther west.
Although born in Denison, Texas, Dwight D. Eisenhower considered Abilene, to which his family moved in 1892, to be his home town. Ike graduated from Abilene High School in 1909.