The community was first settled around 1882, when the British-owned Francklyn Land and Cattle Company, later reorganized as the White Deer Land Company, occupied the area and began stocking it with cattle. George Tyng, general manager of the property, built the headquarters for White Deer or Diamond F Ranch at the site in 1887. around the same time, the Purcell Company purchased land in the vicinity as a right-of-way for the Southern Kansas Railway of Texas. A depot was built in 1888.
The site was initially known as Paton (after John Paton), then Whig, before being renamed White Deer in January 1899 – after nearby White Deer Creek. During the 1890s, British shareholders began selling land for small farms and ranches to settlers. The community moved to its present location near the railroad line in 1908. A year later, Henry Czerner and Ben Urbanczyk established a community of Polish farmers from central Texas at the northeastern edge of town. There were approximately 50 people living in White Deer by 1910.
The discovery of oil and gas in Carson County in 1919 brought growth to both White Deer and the surrounding area. The community incorporated in 1921 and the population had risen to 200 by the mid-1920s. At the peak of the oil boom in the late 1920s, White Deer was home to nearly 3,000 people. Soon after, the city experienced a period of decline. A disastrous fire in 1931, the negative economic impact of the Great Depression as well as tornadoes in 1945 and 1951 were all contributing factors in White Deer’s decline. In the late 1950s, the town became a shipping point for grain and cattle produced in the area. By 1980, the population was 1,210. That figure decreased to 1,125 in 1990 and 1,060 in 2000.
A statue of a white deer stands on a concrete pedestal in the middle of the town’s main intersection. At its base is a historical marker, erected in 1965, that commemorates the town’s rich history.