Courthouse burned on April 12, 1955, at about 9:00pm - 9:30pm." - J. J. Montgomery.
The second floor was destroyed by the fire.|
1939 photo courtesy TXDoT
former Kent County Courthouse is the community center today. |
Whetstone, Nov. 2003
in 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|
Photo 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 towns.
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 bright.
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.
building across the street from the old courthouse |
Photo courtesy Erik
Whetstone, Nov 2003
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"
Clairemont Texas Forum
Subject: Clairemont, Texas
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 Smith, Odessa, 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
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