John R. Price was the first permanent settler in the area. He acquired land there in 1890 and was soon joined by other farmers and ranchers intent upon founding a town. In 1893 Mrs. J. P. Jackson started a school, and ten years later a post office was established in the neighboring community of Zelo, a mile north. The future of Hawley was assured late in 1906 when the Wichita Valley line surveyed a rail route through the area to Abilene. The railroad surveyor, Fletcher Scott, aided local citizens in promoting the townsite and suggested the name Hawley in honor of another railroad official, C. W. Hawley. With the arrival of the railroad in 1907, the town began to grow. The post office and a general store in Zelo were moved to Hawley, and soon other businesses were established. A newspaper, the Hawley Hustler, was published in 1907 and 1908. Hawley continued to grow and prosper despite a major fire that destroyed most of the downtown area in 1924. In 1926 the community acquired electrical power, and in 1929 its population reached 300. A major highway came through in 1930. During the 1930s abundant oil was discovered nearby, and by 1936 there were about fifty producing wells and a refinery in the vicinity. The town had a population of 241 in 1970, when it incorporated. In 1988, at a population of 884, Hawley was the fourth largest town in the county. During the 1980s Hawley was the nucleus of a large consolidated school district that served more than 600 students. In 1990 the town's population was 606, and in 2000 it was 646. Source: Handbook of Texas Online.