Saturday, April 05, 2014

This Week in Texas Methodist History      April 6

Traveler Reports on “Preachertown” (Clarendon),  April 12, 1879

Would you be able to repeat the Lord’s Prayer backwards?  That was the waggish condition for buying a town lot in Clarendon reported by a traveler in April, 1879.  That was obviously a joke, but promising to forfeit one’s property if it were used for the sale of alcoholic beverages was not.  Clarendon was founded on the strictest Methodist principles. 

The Rev. Lewis Carhart and his brother-in-law, and a group of English investors bought 343 sections of railroad land scrip and surveyed it into town lots and farms.  Their strict prohibition against the sale of alcohol made Clarendon an exception to the wide-open frontier towns with their saloons.  The joke about the backward recitation of the Lord’s Prayer was not the only time locals poked fun at the town.  It was nicknamed “Saints Roost,” “Preachertown,” and “Methodist Colony.”

The distinctive religious character of the town attracted serious settlers who wanted to raise their children in a wholesome atmosphere.  Accordingly, Clarendon was widely acknowledged as an outstanding educational center.  Clarendon College, founded by the Northwest Texas Conference of the MECS in 1898, provided a fine opportunity for learning.  

The development company began selling lots in October, 1878.  Here is the report of the traveler only six months later.

This place is known as the”Methodist Colony,” also as “Preachertown.”  The rev. Mr. Carhart of the Methodist church is the chief manager of affairs.  His residence is at Sherman, Texas, where he edits a paper in the interests of Clarendon.  Clarendon is a quiet settlement of about a dozen buildings situated about eight miles from the base of the plains. And is completely land locked with hills. . . .No intoxicating liquors are allowed to be sold, and any one purchasing a lot in the town must enter into an agreement that in case he should sell liquor upon the premises then his property will be confiscated for the benefit of a seminary in Clarendon.  The boys say that purchasers must also be able to recite the Lord’s Prayer backwards, but I do not believe this, at least it is not in the printed stipulations.  Clarendon is a desirable locality for persons seeking a quiet homestead in the country.  Ft. Griffin Echo, April 12, 1879.


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