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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2003, The Clarendon Enterprise. All Rights Reserved.