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Donley  County
Donley County

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Clarendon Hotels



Donley County Seat, Texas Panhandle

34° 56' 11" N, 100° 53' 28" W (34.936389, -100.891111)

Hwys 287 & 70
28 miles NW of Memphis
57 miles NW of Childress
31 miles SE of Claude
60 miles SE of Amarillo
ZIP code 79226
Area code 806
Population: 1,781 Est. (2019)
2,026 (2010) 1,974 (2000) 2,067 (1990)

Book Hotel Here › Clarendon Hotels

Clarendon Texas cotton street scene
Clarendon cotton street scene
Click on image to enlarge

Photo courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

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."

Clarendon Texas 1890 city map
Clarendon 1890 City Map
Click on image to enlarge

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

History of Clarendon

by Lou Ann Herda

"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

From "Donley County Courthouse"

Clarendon, Texas
Attractions / Landmarks

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

  • 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 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

    Historical Marker: At intersection of 3rd & Parks, Clarendon

    Church of Saint John Baptist

    Oldest church continuously in use (in earliest Episcopal parish) in the Texas Panhandle. The first services were held by the Rev. Mr. Townsend of Dallas Diocese in the J. B. McClelland Ranch house, Nov. 1877. On site given 1891 by Isaac W. Carhart, building was erected in 1893. A donor, Mrs. Elizabeth Goff of Philadelphia, chose the name. The church was consecrated April 24, 1893, by Bishop A. C. Garrett. First Vicar: the Rev. W. D. Sartwell, 1890-93.
    Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1971

    Clarendon Tx - Methodist Church
    Methodist Church
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2009

    Historical Marker: 420 S. Jefferson Street

    First United Methodist Church of Clarendon

    When the Rev. Lewis H. Carhart, a Methodist minister, founded Clarendon, he envisioned it as a religious and educational center. The town was established in 1878 near the junction of Carroll Creek and the Salt Fork of the Red River, six miles north of its present location. Local cowboys nicknamed the settlement "Saint's Roost" because it had no saloons. The first building erected was a combination church and school. Until the turn-of-the-century, there was a Northern Methodist Church in the community. When the railroad arrived in 1887, Clarendon moved to its present site. The Rev. James T. Hosmer, a circuit rider, conducted Methodist services in private homes. In 1888 the Rev. Isaac L. Mills and 15 charter members organized the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1890 the fellowship erected a frame church building on the southeast corner of Kearney and 4th Street. Membership increased significantly after the founding in 1898 of Clarendon Methodist College, forerunner of Clarendon Junior College. To accommodate the growing congregation, this large classical revival structure was built in 1910, during the pastorate of the Rev. O. P. Kiker. The original roof was replaced in 1950.

    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 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 Cemeteries

    1936 Texas Centennial marker: From Clarendon, take Hwy 70 about 1 mile south to Citizens' Cemetery

    Clarendon Cemetery

    In this first cemetery of Donley County, sixteen rods west lie the first dead of Old Clarendon. Here white civilization sank its roots in sadness and from the graves in this sacred acre strong pioneer spirits turned to face the future with greater love for the land and a firmer determination to build for a tomorrow which we know today. To those of the Old Clarendon Colony who first found rest on this bold promontory and to their survivors, this stone of imperishable Texas granite is loyally and lovingly dedicated.
    Erected by the State of Texas, July 4, 1938

    Historical Marker: 16.5 miles N of Clarendon on Hwy 70 right-of-way, near intersection with CR B

    Jericho Cemetery

    (1 mile west)
    Settlement of this area of Donley County began in the late 19th century, before the town of Jericho was founded as a station on the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf rail line about 1902. Early community burials took place in the pasture near this site, and the graveyard eventually was set aside in the county deed records. The first documented burial is that of Mattie Ray (1850-1895), and the second is that of seven-month-old Garil Prest Schaffer, who died in 1897. Others buried in the Jericho Cemetery include victims of smallpox and influenza epidemics, military veterans and area pioneers.

    Claredon, Texas Old Photos

    Clarendon Texas street scene
    Clarendon street scene
    Click on image to enlarge

    Photo courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

    Clarendon TX - New Clarendon College Building, 1908

    The New Clarendon College Building
    1908 Photo courtesy Dan Whatley Collection

    Historical Marker: 1122 College Drive

    Clarendon College

    On April 2, 1898, the first college in the Texas Panhandle, Clarendon College and University Training School (Clarendon College), was organized by the Methodist Church Conference. The college’s doors opened in the town of Clarendon on September 5, 1898, and for the first few years, courses were offered for students ranging from first grade through college. The college graduated its first class in 1904. On February 21, 1903, the Clarendon College bulldogs played one of the earliest football games ever held in the Texas Panhandle, beating the Goodnight College Buffaloes 16-10. Dr. George S. Slover oversaw an expansive period as president and led Clarendon to become a senior college on September 14, 1926. Clarendon conferred 28 bachelor’s degrees before returning to junior college status and coming under the direction of the Clarendon School District in 1927. Under President Kenneth D. Vaughan, the college separated from the public school and a county-wide college district was formed in 1965. An endowment from Sisters Etta and Ida Harned allowed the college to move from its historic location and build the modern campus in 1968. Clarendon College opened its first satellite center in Pampa in 1978 and later opened centers in Childress and Amarillo. Clarendon College remains a cultural center of Donley County and the region and continues to provide students in its service area an opportunity for higher education.

    Clarendon, Texas - Clarendon College, old post card
    Clarendon College
    1913 postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

    Clarendon Texas vintage photos

    Athletes and Pep Squad
    Clarendon High School 1927

    Clarendon TX - St. Mary's Academy

    St. Mary's Academy
    Photo courtesy Dan Whatley Collection


    From Titanic Texans by Mike Cox

    "Two former Texans also died in the infamous disaster -- James H. Bracken and Alfred Rowe. Bracken had lived for a time near Bend, a small town on the Colorado River in San Saba County. Rowe owned a large ranch near Clarendon in Donley County.

    Bracken, born in Kentucky in 1881, gained his Texas connection in marrying San Saba county native Addie Greathouse in 1907. Later they moved from Bend to New Mexico, and it was from there that he left for England on a cattle-buying trip. On his way home as a second-class passenger when the ship sank, his body was never identified.

    In the late 1870s, British citizen Rowe, born in Peru in 1853, bought a ranch in the Panhandle and spent most of his time in Texas until the early 1900s. In 1910, he moved back to Kensington, England but still made business trips back to his ranch. He was traveling as a first-class passenger when the ship went down. His body was recovered and his remains were shipped to England for burial."
    (See full article)

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

    Clarendon, Texas Forum
  • Subject: Clarendon, Texas Historical Places

    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.
    - Gwen Edgett, June 05, 2016
  • 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

  • TX Donley  County 1920s Map
    From 1920 Texas state map #10749 showing Donley County
    More Donley County vintage maps

    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

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    Texas Panhandle

    Clarendon, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Claude | Amarillo | Memphis
    See Donley County

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