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Rev. L.H. Carhart

1878-1889 

In 1877, Rev. Lewis Henry Carhart, a Northern Methodist Episcopal minister in Sherman, became interested in developing land in West Texas. He enlisted the financial assistance of a brother-in-law, Alfred Sully of New York, and purchased 343 sections in the Texas Panhandle.  Much of the land was used for ranching interests, but an area was set aside at the juncture of Carroll Creek and the Salt Fork of the Red River for what Carhart hoped would be a Methodist utopia – a Christian colony where temperance and education would reign and whiskey and sin would be unknown.

Rev. Carhart led his first group of colonists from the East and Midwest to the new town site in the spring of 1878 and named it Clarendon in honor of his wife, Clara Sully Carhart.

Dedicating its purpose to the “promotion and upbuilding of Northwestern Texas,” Rev. Carhart established The Clarendon News – the Panhandle territory’s first newspaper – with the premier issue published on June 1, 1878.

L.H. Carhart served the paper as its editor and business manager and was assisted by James H. Parks, a surveyor who served as the local editor while Carhart continued to travel to gather supplies and settlers for the colony.

With very few businesses in the new colony, early advertisers were mostly from Wisconsin and Ohio, and most of the early “news” articles were designed to promote the ideal location of the colony and to encourage even more settlement of the area. News items were gathered in Clarendon, Carhart contributed articles and sermons, and the content was then shipped to Carhart’s cousin, Dr. John Wesley Carhart, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for printing. The issues were then shipped back to Sherman, Texas, and freighted from there to the colony. 

In 1880, Rev. Carhart sent for his Wisconsin cousin’s son to come take over the operation. Edward E. Carhart was young but not a stranger to the newspaper business. In 1876, he and his sister, Mattie, had started their own paper in Oshkosh called The Early Dawn and printed it on their father’s press. 

•The First Press

At age 16 with financial backing from his father, Ed Carhart left Wisconsin for Texas, stopping in Chicago to purchase a printing outfit for the colony. He shipped it to Gainesville and there loaded it into a wagon for a three-week journey to Clarendon.

The young man installed the territory’s first printing press in the News office – a picket house chinked with mud and with a dirt floor. Ed Carhart turned the News into a weekly publication and printed his first edition in July of 1880, a feat which impressed the colonists and “swelled the hat band” of the young man. He increased the annual subscription rate from 50-cents to $2 per year. 

In 1881, Charles Kimball bought an interest in the paper. A Washington hand press was installed to increase the size of the publication, and the paper moved into a larger structure. The paper was enlarged to a six-column newspaper in February 1882 and with the new size promoted itself as a “first class advertising medium.”   

The paper was sold to J.B. McClelland in about 1884, and by 1886 The Clarendon News had come under the direction of J.W. Kennard and William J. Grant, and the name was changed to The Northwest Texan. Grant purchased Kennard’s interest in the paper in April 1887 and changed the name to The Panhandle News in July.

• New Clarendon

The name and ownership of the newspaper was not the only change happening in Clarendon in 1887. The Ft. Worth & Denver City Railway was building westward, and its course was going to miss Carhart’s colony. A new town site was selected; and by the summer of 1887, the move was on to New Clarendon. Families, houses, and businesses were moved from what would become known as Old Town, and The Panhandle News was no different as it pulled up stakes and relocated with its community.

Clarendon became a very different town at its new location. Rev. Carhart’s idealism was largely abandoned as saloons cropped up with the approaching of the railroad. Within a few months, the News kept pace with the growing town by moving into a new, larger shop.  

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