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Editor W.P. Blake

Photo courtesy PPHM

1903-1909 

On February 6, 1903, in the face of competition from the two other papers, he changed the name of the paper from The Industrial West to The Clarendon Chronicle and changed its frequency to twice a week.

Blake spent considerable time as an active member of the old Northwest Texas Press Association. He served as its president in 1901 and was also active in state and national press associations.

The number of local newspapers again shrank from three to two in July of 1904 when Cooke’s Banner-Stockman absorbed and discontinued the News. Cooke was always a force for positive change in Clarendon. He worked for every positive enhancement of “The City Beautiful” and was instrumental in encouraging the passage of bonds for a sewer system and promoted the development of a fire department.

Cooke sold The Banner-Stockman to R.C. Dial on January 8, 1909. Cooke moved first to Brady and later to Rockdale where his family continues to publish an award-winning paper today. Within months of Dial’s purchase of the Banner-Stockman, there was contention again in the local paper business. In May, Alvis Weatherly, assisted by former Banner-Stockman printer James Trent, launched The Clarendon Times.

1909-1945 

On October 23, 1909, Blake announced the sale of the Chronicle to A.M. Beville. Blake opened a job print shop; and Beville and his son, Harwood, took over the paper on November 1, 1909, and restored its original title, The Clarendon News.

Beville maintained the schedule and format set by Blake and gave the paper a new motto, which would be carried on the nameplate for more than 30 years – “All the local News — while it is news.” He also put the emphasis on local news and hoped his product would be something people simply could not do without.

“In fact,” Beville wrote, “we want to make the News a household necessity in every home in the Clarendon trade territory; so much so that it will be like a famous patent medicine – that even the children cry for it.”

The last legal hanging in the Texas Panhandle was the execution of G.R. Miller on June 3, 1910.

Enterprise Archive Photo.

• Your sin will find you out

Right away, Beville found himself covering what remains one of the biggest news stories in the history of Clarendon. In March 1909, G.R. Miller had shot a boy in the head as the train they had hitched a ride on neared Giles. The boy, Floyd Autry, died the next day, and Miller was soon captured and charged with the crime. Beville’s inaugural issue carried the jury’s verdict of guilt and the sentence of death. After unsuccessful appeals, Miller was executed in Clarendon on the morning of June 3, 1910, and a crowd of about a thousand people was there to watch.

Beville took no pleasure in the big news of the day and placed the story on page two of the paper. He gave a thorough but not overly detailed account of the hanging and wrote "Be sure your sin will find you out."

Miller’s was the only execution to take place in Donley County, and today it is noted for being the last legal hanging in the Texas Panhandle.

By the end of 1910, the News consolidated with its only competitor, The Clarendon Times, and ended what had been two decades of competition in the local newspaper business.   Beville then returned the paper to a once-a-week schedule and altered the nameplate by adding “And Clarendon Times Combined” beneath The Clarendon News.

On October 1, 1911, Beville sold the newspaper to Joe M. Warren, who, after a short time as publisher, removed the Clarendon Times from the nameplate and added “Established 1878” to the cover.

Warren gathered ads and news and enlisted the help of his eldest daughter, Leta, and his eldest son, Harry, in setting type and running the press. Ed Boliver, who later ran the newspaper at Hedley, served as editor of the News. “Miss Leta,” as she was fondly known, also helped gather the news from around town. Other community members contributed items to help fill the columns. G.W. Antrobus sent letters to the News when he toured the Old South, and Mrs. Cornelia Adair’s visits from England were big news also.

•New Technology

Joe Warren and Leta were both active in the Texas and Panhandle press associations. Warren also later implemented one of the biggest technological changes in the News’ history. Previously all type was painstakingly set one letter at a time by hand. But Warren introduced “hot metal” type with the installation of a used Model One Linotype, one of the earliest such machines in the area. Modern historians say the Linotype, which cast a line of type in molten lead, reduced printing time by as much as 85 percent in some shops.

Sam Braswell purchased The Clarendon News from Warren on July 19, 1917.  Braswell increased the subscription rate to $1.50 and set about making other changes. In September of 1918, a little more than a year after taking over, the new publisher had a brand new Model 14 Linotype installed to displace the old Model One. The new machine set seven faces of type to the old machine’s two faces and surpassed the Model One in a ratio of one hundred to one in “general satisfaction.” It was the latest model Linotype between Fort Worth and Denver except for one in Amarillo, but Clarendon’s machine was five months newer and therefore had “a few adjustments not on that one.” Braswell said the reason for the new machine was to make sure Clarendon had the best paper in Texas.

The News took another step forward just 18 months later and installed a new printing press. The new press allowed Braswell to increase the size of the News from six to seven columns. He also joined the growing trend of newspapers around Texas in banning ads from the front page – a feature which had always been commonplace before. Both the new press and the new ad policy drew wide praise from other papers. Braswell’s prohibition on front-page ads is a policy which has endured into the 21st century.

Under Braswell’s direction, the News continued to play a prominent role within the community and the newspaper industry. Braswell was an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and a founding member of the Clarendon Lions Club. He served as president of the Panhandle Press Association in 1920-1921 and was president of the Texas Press Association in 1923-24. He was also named as a lifetime member of the TPA.

Braswell also led the News to win many awards in the 1920s for advertising and job printing during annual conventions of the Texas Press Association.

The 1920s were a time of growth for Clarendon. From his position in the editor’s chair, Braswell recorded such progressive events as the city’s first paving project, and he was a booster of Clarendon College as the Methodist-sponsored institution evolved from a junior college to a brief life as a senior institution.

But it was also on Braswell’s watch in 1926 that Clarendon suffered the sad news that the Methodist conference had elected to remove the college to another town. Local citizens rallied around, and the college became a municipal junior college in 1927.  

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