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Donley County Seat, Texas Panhandle
Hwys 70 and 287
51 miles SE of Amarillo
Population: 2030 (2010)

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Clarendon TX - Restored 1890 Donley County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Rhonda Aveni
Donley County Courthouse

Clarendon, Texas Topics

  • Clarendon History
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  • Donley County Courthouse next page
  • Clarendon Vintage Photos
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  • History in a Pecan Shell

    Stockton P. Donley was a Texas Supreme Court Judge.

    Clarendon has nearly as interesting a founding as Post, Texas. While Post was founded on matters of health, so was Clarendon - in a way. It was originally set up to be a town where cowboys could "dry out". L. H. Carhart, a Methodist Minister, envisioned Clarendon to be what he called a "sobriety settlement."

    History of Clarendon by Lou Ann Herda

    From "Donley County Courthouse":

    "If you're like me, when you hear the name Texas Panhandle, you probably think blue northers and the Palo Duro Canyon. It gets cold, cold in the Panhandle where there's hardly anything but barbed wire fence to keep out the brisk Arctic wind in the winter.

    Donley County is one of the squared counties located in the Panhandle. Formerly the domain of Plains Apaches and later the Comanches and Kiowas, this region was once overrun with buffalo until White men settled in the latter 1870s. Many battles ensued between the tribes and the Whites, including the decisive Red River War of 1874-75. Thereafter, the Indians were put on reservations in Indian Territory, and the buffalo were slaughtered. With the buffalo gone, vast cattle ranches could be established.

    This is about when Methodist preacher Lewis Carhart established "Saints Roost" up in those parts. Actually, Carhart called his no-liquor, no-gambling Christian colony "Clarendon" after his wife, Clara. But local rowdies gave it its nickname since they weren't allowed to be rowdy there. Carhart's motto, "Christianity, Education, Temperance, Civilization - Westward," set high expectations for the townspeople. Nevertheless, a saloon and dance hall were going to be erected by some outsiders at one point. This didn't set well with several local cowboys, who offered to scalp them if they didn't leave. It took legendary cattle driver Charles Goodnight to persuade the business owners to pack up and leave. He gave them ten hours to go, and, by golly, they were gone before that. By the early 1880s, Clarendon was one of only three towns in the Panhandle. Saints Roost is now like Atlantis, under water (the Greenbelt Reservoir, to be exact). Clarendon has been the county seat since 1882.

    Incidentally, the August 2, 1879, edition of the Clarendon News, which claimed that there was to be "no whisky forever in Clarendon," made comment on the Sunday law. This so-called law extended between the hours of midnight on Saturday until midnight on Sunday, during which time no shopping or trading was allowed. It appears that a drought had laid siege on the land and that "to many old guzzlers, it seem[ed] an eternity between drinks." I guess they were guzzling lemonade since whisky wasn't allowed."... more

    Clarendon Attractions / Landmarks

  • Donley County Courthouse -
    The 1894 courthouse restored to its former glory.
  • Saints Roost Museum - Hwy 70 South of town. In former Hospital founded by Cornelia Adair. The name Saint's Roost was bestowed upon Clarendon by cowboys who were mildly chiding the founder's intentions.
  • Clarendon Hotels Book Hotel Here
  • Clarendon Tx - S.W. Lowe House
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    S.W. Lowe House
    National Register of Historic Places
    Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
    Clarendon, TX - St John Baptist Episcopal Church
    St. John Baptist Episcopal Church
    Oldest church continuously in use in the Texas Panhandle

    Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
    On 3rd & Parks Street
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    Clarendon Tx - Methodist Church
    Methodist Church
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    Clarendon Tx - Presbyterian Church
    Presbyterian Church
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    More Texas Churches
    Mulkey Theatre, Clarendon, Texas
    Mulkey Theatre
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    More Texas Theatres
    Clarendon Tx - Former Phillips Gas Station
    Former Phillips Gas Station
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    More Texas Gas Stations
    Clarendon, Texas Historical Places
    Gwen Edgett, June 05, 2016:
  • Adair Hospital
    It was erected by Mrs. C. Adair on the ranch to treat the hired hands of the ranch. Till then there was no other hospital for treatment. It stayed in operation till 1970's when the new county hospital was built going out of town by the drive in. Till then it was the county hospital for a extremely long time. Till the new hospital was built unless you were born at home you were born in that hospital. I was born in 1960. My mother was the Office Manager at that time. Having adolescent asthma meant I spent a lot of time there.
  • The pipe organ in the Baptist Church
    At one time it was the largest pipe organ in N. Texas. It had been painted with native flowers and butterflies. It was a thing of beauty. Why they decided to paint it over I don't know. There was a painting Mary done by a local artist that they discovered kind of glowed in the dark. It wasn't supernatural. It had to do with the combination of items used in the crafting of it. It was moved down to the children's area in the basement for a long time. The metal rings embedded in the curb were for people to tie their horses to during meetings. (There are fewer and fewer of these each year.)
  • The first and longest operating drug store was in Clarendon.
  • Not only the first but last legal hanging was in Clarendon. The man was innocent. They found out afterwards that another man had done it. Side note: The youngest deputy involved in it never got over it. He would sit in his rocking chair saying "He didn't do it" over and over.
  • Clarendon is the only cowboy cemetery still in operation.

    There is so much more to my hometown to be proud of.

  • Clarendon Texas vintage photos

    Athletes and Pep Squad
    Clarendon High School 1927
    Clarendon, Texas - Clarendon College, old post card
    Clarendon College
    1913 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

    Clarendon Tx - Painted US and Texas Flags
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    Clarendon Texas city limit
    Clarendon city limit
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    Clarendon Tourist Information

    Clarendon/Donley County Chamber of Commerce
    PO BOX 730 Clarendon, Texas 79226

    Clarendon Tx - Donley County Marker
    Centennial Marker - U.S. 287 & Hwy 70, West of Clarendon
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009
    More Texas Centennial
    Centennial Marker Text

    Donley County

    Formed from Young and Bexar territories; Created August 21, 1876; Organized March 22, 1882; Named in honor of Stockton P. Donley 1821-1871; a Confederate officer elected to the Texas Supreme Bench in 1866; Clarendon, the County Seat.

    Clarendon, Texas Forum

  • Subject: Clarendon History
    Dear Editor - I am doing some genealogical history and am wondering if you have suggestions as to a local person with whom I might communicate. I am researching a fellow named Rev. Richard Allen Hall who was a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was Presiding Elder of the Clarendon District for four years in the 1893-1899 period. Supposedly he helped to found or did found Clarendon College and was on the Board of Trustees. He married a woman named Alice Texanna Neely from that area in 1881. If you have any suggestions as to someone who might be familiar with area Methodist preachers in that period or the founding of Clarendon, I would be very interested in communicating with them. Thank you. - Kalmin Smith, May 28, 2006, KalminSmith@aol.com

    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.

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