Saturday, September 04, 2010

This Week in Texas Methodist HIstory September 5

Clarendon College Opens September 5, 1898

Joseph Haymes begins his discussion of Clarendon College with the observation that “the city of Clarendon has been universally known as the Athens of the Panhandle.” He meant that it was a seat of education and culture.

The Fort Worth and Denver Railway was built from Fort Worth to the Texas state line from 1881 to 1888. Towns were platted, lands surveyed into farms, and settlements all along the rail line sprang us. Clarendon had an advantage because it was one of the few settlements in the region that preceded the construction of the railroad. The town had been a project of the Rev. Lewis Henry Carhart (see post for April 6, 2008). When the Fort Worth and Denver came to Donley County, the town relocated a short distance to the tracks and within a few years became a thriving shipping point for agricultural products of the region.

About ten years after the railroad construction, the push for a Methodist school gained momentum. Rev. J. R. Henson led a campaign to clear out the saloons and gambling dens from the Feather Hill section of the town, and the community began soliciting donations for the construction of a school. In November 1897 the District Conference meeting in Memphis received the offer of a school and forwarded it to the Northwest Texas Annual Conference.

The Conference accepted the school, so on Sept. 5, 1898, the Clarendon College and Training school opened with four teachers and twenty-one students. The founding president was J. W. Adkisson who was followed in by W. B. McKeown. When president J. R. Mood arrived in 1906, he found 268 students.

Clarendon College provided a valuable service in that it provided an education close to home for many students in the Panhandle. Some of those students went on to distinguished church careers. One such student was Cecil Peeples who became president of Lon Morris College. (see post for June 10, 2010)

Clarendon College continued until 1927 when its assets were liquidated and the property became a public institution. It now offers instruction at Clarendon, Pampa, and Childress. The Clarendon campus is 107 acres.


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