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KENT COUNTY JAIL
Clairemont, Texas

Clairemont Texas Kent County Jail
Kent County Jail is still almost completely intact, 112 years after it was built.
Photo courtesy Noel Kerns, September 2007
Clairmont Jail by Mike Cox ("Texas Tales" column)

A noted outlaw, the story goes, lies on his death bed mortally wounded by a Texas Ranger's well-placed .45 slug.

"Tell me who you rode with and where I can find 'em," the state lawman orders the dying badman.

"Can you keep a secret?" the pale felon whispers, barely able to talk.

"You bet your boots I can," the Ranger replies.

"So can I," the outlaw says shortly before dying with his boots on.

And so does the graffiti-covered old jail in what little is left of the West Texas community of Clairemont, once the seat of Kent County...
more
Old Kent county jail, Clairemont, Texas
The old Kent County jail
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2005
Former Kent County courthouse, Clairemont, Texas
"The old Kent County courthouse is of red sandstone and used to have two stories. The jail is on the right side across the street, about 500 feet from the courthouse." - Barclay Gibson, June 2005
Photographer's Note:
Dear Editor, On the subject of strap-iron jails (I don't know what to call them but "strap-iron"), you mentioned that Indianola built a building around their cell. The old Kent County cell at
Clairemont is actually a strap-iron cell about 12x12 feet by about 7 feet high inside the red sandstone building. Obviously, the jail was either built inside the building or the building was built around the cell. Probably the latter. This cell used to be open but the door has now been welded shut. - Barclay Gibson, June 29, 2005
Clairemont Texas Kent County Jail old strap-iron cellblock
Inside the old strap-iron cellblock of the Kent County Jail in Clairemont.
Photo courtesy Noel Kerns, September 2007
Old jail in Clairemont, Texas
Old jail ruins in Clairemont
Photo courtesy Erik Whetstone, Nov 2003
Photographer's Note:
"The jailhouse was pretty interesting. From what I could see, there were five to six cells in the building. There are four cells built into the walls, each being at one of the four corners. They were pretty bare inside, each just having a bed frame, a window and a cell door. In the center of the jail was a large cage type cell, made entirely of riveted metal slats. I think it had multiple doors, but I'm not totally sure about that. The cage in the center was probably seven feet tall. When I peeked into one of the rear windows, I was really looking across the top of the cage and it was difficult to make out the internal details.

When I was reading up on the net about the jail, I did find something humorous, for a whole $15.18 you can have your very own HO scale replica of the Jail at http://www.internettrains.com/308-110.html. I wonder how many HO scale Kent county dioramas are out there, and if there are any, does the train bypass Clairemont there also?" - Erik Whetstone, June 03, 2004


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Subject: Clairemont, Texas and the County Jail
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

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