| History in
a Pecan Shell
Claude Ayers, railroad engineer for the Fort Worth
and Denver City Railway had the town of Armstrong City
renamed in his honor when he drove the first train to town in 1887.
The town's business district was originally platted along the railroad
tracks with angles southeast to northwest, while later building was
platted on the traditional compass points.
A post office was granted in 1888 and the county was organized in
A dispute with the town of Washburn
(13 miles NW) called for an election with cattleman Charles
Goodnight (who lived East of Claude) supposedly casting the tie-breaking
vote. The largest hotel in the Panhandle,
a three-story model named the Palace opened and Claude organized their
own school district in 1891.
Claude's citizens reportedly used a trough on the courthouse square
for their water and a stone
courthouse was built in 1912.
Claude claims to have had the first Boy Scout Troop (17) west of the
Mississippi and to date, no one has stepped forward to challenge that
The population was just over 1,000 in 1930 and it fell to 761 by 1940.
A new Armstrong County jail was built from the stone of the former
jail in 1951.
Claude served as the backdrop for the movie Hud in 1963, and several
The current population has increased back to a comfortable 1,300.
See "Town of Claude"
On US 287, one block west of the Courthouse Square
Michaels, January 2008
More Texas Jails
Erected in 1953,
this building is constructed of stone used to build the first masonry
jail in Armstrong
County, 1894. Stone for the structure (which replaced a primitive,
frame "calaboose") was quarried 14 miles south at Dripping Springs
in Palo Duro
Canyon and then hauled here in wagons driven by local citizens.
The rock was cut at this site. The 1894 building had two stories,
topped by a dome, and 20-inch walls. So sturdy was it that dangerous
convicts from other counties were kept here. Old-timers remember that
only three prisoners ever escaped.
when Fort Worth & Denver Railroad built into area (1887). Claude Ayers,
engineer on first passenger train through here, suggested town be
named for him -- and citizens agreed.
Jerry Cavanaugh, first resident, gave land for town. Post office was
granted in 1888, with E.H. Trice, postmaster. Claude won a close race
for county seat, 1890. Tie-breaking vote was cast by famous rancher
Churches were established in 1890 and a school built in 1891. Noted
Panhandle historian Laura V. Hamner was an early teacher. Town was
incorporated in 1909.
|The Great Panhandle
Michaels, January 2008
The Great Panhandle
Although most Indians
had left the Texas Panhandle
by the 1880s, fear of Indian attacks was still prevalent among settlers
who arrived in the next decade. On Jan. 29, 1891, rumors of approaching
Indians spread throughout the entire region. For three days settlers
barricaded their homes and communities and prepared to defend themselves.
Later it was discovered that the rumored Indian war cries and smoke
signals were actually cowboys in pursuit of a steer they finally caught
and cooked over an open fire.
Marker in Courthouse Square, US 287)
Route of Coronado Expedition
Led by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, this trail-blazing
expedition set out from Mexico City in 1541 in search of Cibola, fabled
7 Cities of Gold. Finding only Indian pueblos, Coronado changed his
course for Quivira, a supposedly wealthy Indian kingdom. This quest
brought the entourage across the Panhandle
plains to present Tule Canyon. Then with 30 men, Coronado went
north by "Needle Point" -- a route taking in Palo
Duro Canyon and present Armstrong
County, via Claude. He next continued into Kansas, but failing
to find riches, returned to Mexico in 1542.
Search for Cibola by Jeffery Robenalt
Dan Cavanagh settled here in 1885 and bought this land in 1888. In
1890 he gave a grave site for railroad worker Neal DeBerry. Settler
C.C. Bates was buried in 1890, and early burials from the Fort Worth
& Denver Railroad right-of-way were later moved here. James and Harriet
Grimes deeded the cemetery land to the public in 1905. A cemetery
association was organized in 1912, and perpetual care began in 1936
with a $10,000 gift from Jim Hill. Also interred here are veterans
of the Civil War, the Spanish
American War, World Wars
I and II,
Korea, and Vietnam.
Blackie the Bear
by Mike Cox
Nickels were hard to come by in the tough economic times of the early
1890s, but the cowboys patronizing Jim Scarborough’s saloon in Claude
never minded standing Blackie a drink when they could afford to...
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