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Frank Borcher's Sample House (saloon) in New Clarendon.

Enterprise Archive Photo.

1889-1891 

In May 1889, William Grant sold paper to B. Wilson Edgell, who had established The Clarendon Traveler three months before. Edgell published a seven-column folio with all home print, assisted by N.T. Thomasson as editor.

A house ad described the Traveler office as “live and progressive” and said it was “thoroughly equipped with steam engine, fast presses and one of the most complete printing outfits in Texas outside the big cities.” Whether that passage was intended to mean the presses were as fast as steam engines or were in fact powered by steam engines is a mystery. If it were the latter, the move to steam power would have represented a giant leap forward in technology over the old Washington hand press.

The Traveler enjoyed being the county’s sole newspaper for just one year. In 1891, competition emerged to challenge Edgell when R.W.H. Kennon introduced The Clarendon Journal, which he liked to bill as “The Only Democratic Paper In Donley County.”

 

1891-1891 

The Traveler was purchased by Del Harrington in 1892, who changed the name to The Industrial West. That same year, Edgell’s former local editor N.T. Thomasson started The Donley County Pluck, declaring “only the fittest” of papers could survive. It was later written that the Pluck had a “brief and spasmodic life” before “its toes soon turned to daisies” when Harrington purchased it and shut it down in July of 1893. The acquisition left Clarendon with two papers – The Industrial West and Kennon’s Journal. But that was a very brief arrangement. In October, R.B. Edgell – B. Wilson Edgell's brother – came to town and started a new paper – The Clarendon Banner.

Harrington quickly tired of the newspaper business and operated The Industrial West for less than a year before selling it to W.P. Blake. Harrington eventually became mayor of Dalhart, Texas, but he kept close ties with the Clarendon newspaper and occasionally filled in for Blake in the editor’s chair. 

W.P. Blake served as editor longer than any of his predecessors – 16 years. He published a six-column paper that was filled with reading matter he considered to be “fair and forceful,” which he later said brought upon him both “commendation and condemnation.”  His successor, A.M. Beville, would later write that Blake “had convictions and the courage to express them…” and that Blake’s “character (had) stamped itself for good upon the community.”

Still other changes were soon in store for the newspaper scene. In 1896, the Banner purchased The Clarendon Journal. Two years later, Edgell sold out to Albert Erwin who changed the name to The Banner-Stockman. He was joined two years later by John E. Cooke.

The Banner-Stockman office in Clarendon, November 1899. On the porch (l to r) are publisher John E. Cooke, Bert Marcey, and Albert Erwin. 

Enterprise Archive Photo.

•A Re-Birth of Culture

Blake was there to record a re-birth of culture in Clarendon as the community resurrected a commitment to the qualities – education and temperance – that had made Carhart’s colony famous.

Clarendon College & University Training School opened its doors on September 5, 1898, under the direction of the Methodist Church. Clarendon College, the first institution of higher learning in the Panhandle, gave Clarendon the title of “The Athens of the Panhandle;” and, although it has seen many changes, it continues to be an asset to the community and the territory to this day. The late 1890s also saw the establishment of St. Mary’s Academy in Clarendon by the Catholic Church and a Baptist college at Goodnight. Neither of those schools survived for long.

A temperance movement also gripped Donley County as the 19th century gave way to the 20th.  In February of 1899, Clarendon again had three newspapers after Methodist minister Jonathan R. Henson started The Agitator, which had only one purpose – to make Clarendon and Donley County dry again.

Blake, Henson, and other business leaders agitated for the local option; and on July 1, 1902, the people of Donley County voted the county dry and gave saloons until September to close their doors. Having accomplished what he set out to do, Henson sold his paper to A.M. Beville, who changed the name to The Clarendon News, and devoted it to general interest. (That paper, entirely unrelated to the original paper of the same name, is now referred to as Series Two.) 

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