|The former Kent
County Courthouse is the community center today.
Photo courtesy Erik
Whetstone, Nov. 2003
a baking soda tin:
Clairemont was the county seat in 1892 when Kent
County was organized. A red sandstone courthouse and jail were
constructed three years later. Kent
County’s initial map was one of the ones drawn by draftsman William
Porter (later O. Henry) when he was working at the Texas General Land
Kent County’s initial
map drawn by draftsman William Porter (later O. Henry) when he was
working at the Texas General Land Office
courtesy Texas General Land Office
|R. L. Rhomberg
owned the land that became Clairemont therefore had a say in the naming
of the town. He named it after a relative named Claire Becker.
A post office was granted by postal authorities in December 1892.
In 1909 the Stamford and Northwestern Railroad bypassed Clairemont,
but surprisingly the town didn’t shrivel and die as did most bypassed
The population, like most of West
Texas, had always been slight. The 30s and 40s had about 150 people
calling the town home. It had doubled by the 1950s. As the county
seat, and with five businesses thriving, Claiemont’s future looked
But water was scarce and oil companies moved to richer fields. Then
came a lengthy court battle over an election where Jayton
(who had more water) became county seat in 1954.
The courthouse burned shortly after the county records were moved.
To add insult to injury, a school consolidation finished the town
for good. Without the county offices and the school, there was nothing
for the town to do but head directly toward ghost town status.
The post office closed in 1970 when there were still thirty-five residents.
Although several families lived near town, only Margie (Ma) Hart lived
in the city proper – running the last business.
burned on April 12, 1955, at about 9:00pm - 9:30pm." - J. J.
The second floor was destroyed by the fire.
1939 photo courtesy TXDoT
by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" column)
"...Named after Alamo defender Andrew Kent, the county was organized
in 1892. A land dealer named R.L. Rhomberg donated a town site for
a county seat named in honor of a young family member, Claire Becker.
A two-story courthouse with an attic and cupola became the hub of
a new community that soon featured all the amenities, from general
store to post office to livery stable.... more"
|A building across
the street from the old courthouse
Photo courtesy Erik
Whetstone, Nov 2003
In the early '60's, my Grandpa was living in the Sun Oil Camp in
Clairemont, Texas, and we would go to visit. The camp was located
just down a dirt road from Brady's store, and had five houses together
for the pumpers to live in with their families. Each house had a
small central yard that was free of grass burrs so that we little
kids could run around, and a huge outer yard that was kept mowed,
but was really just short weeds. Each house had a cattle guard in
front and an elevated trash burning barrel in back. Grandma would
often forget and burn a hairspray can, which would explode as high
as 10 feet into the air. It was fun, but being West Texas, you had
to watch for turtles, snakes and wasps. In 2003, I drove out to
where I believed the camp was located. There was nothing left except
for a single pump jack, but I knew that was where the camp had been...
I remembered sleeping to the putt putt putt sound. Its all gone...
the camp... Brady's Store...Grandpa... I miss them all. - Jim Scott
Texas, November 06, 2006
Seeing a spot about Clairemont in the Forum brought to mind something
that happened there back in the great drought of the '50s. Clairemont
was, like many towns, running out of water. There was, however,
a river nearby, and it was full of water. The city fathers decided
to take advantage of that, and began pumping water for the town
from the river. It seems they forgot which river it was. It was
the Salt Fork of the Brazos. The Salt Fork lived up to its name.
Within a year, nearly every house in Clairemont had to have its
piping replaced. - C.
F. Eckhardt, June 14, 2006
No story about Clairemont would be complete without mentioning the
County Jail that still stands (2006). It was probably one of the
first jails that allowed the jailers to unlock or lock several cells
at once from a single mechanical lever. During the 1960's my family
use to go to Clairemont to have a picnic so we could play in the
old jail. There was also a fire engine in a building beside the
jail that was used by the county to fight grass fires. We lived
38 miles away in Snyder. Of course Ma Hart ran the store up until
the late 1980's or early 1990's. The store served as a place for
the oil workers, ranchers and occasional tourist to stop and have
a cold Coke and buy gas. She was a sweet lady, that always met you
with a smile. The store also served as a bus stop for a short while.
- Richard Chambers, Snyder, Texas, June 11, 2006
I have a history
book that was written about Kent County and its people. It states
that first Commissioner's Court was held out in the open on November
16,1892. - Dale McFadin, August 19, 2003
County map showing Clairement and Jayton
From Texas state map #10749
Texas General Land Office
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