Donley County History 1922
Donley County History Written in 1922
Donley County. Situated on the southern tier of the Panhandle counties, Donley was among the first of the county divisions in this section of the state to be organized. Its boundaries were formed in 1876, and in March, 1882, a county government was organized.
The county seat, Clarendon, is one of the oldest centers of settlement in the Panhandle. It was laid out as a town about 1878, at which time there was no railroad within 300 miles. The surrounding surrounding country was entirely taken up by cattlemen and their interests, but with the extension of the Fort Worth & Denver Railroad through the county in 1887 a new era was inaugurated. When Clarendon was moved from its former location on the Salt Fork of the Red River to its present location, five miles south of the original one, it began to grow and attracted many merchants, real estate men, cattle dealers and others, and was also the home center for many of the cattlemen operating in that section. Clarendon is now one of the important towns along the Fort Worth & Denver Railway, and in 1920 had a population of about 3,000.
Donley County's population in 1880 was 160; in 1890, 1,056; in 1900. 2.756; in 1910, 5,284 ; in 1920, 8,035.
Over thirty years ago. about the time the county was organized. there were estimated to be about twenty thousand cattle, besides several thou- sand sheep, horses and mules in the county, and this industry was operated in the open range, and the cattle. after maturity were driven north and found their principal market at Kansas City. Clarendon at that time was said to he a village of from fifty to one hundred inhabitants, had two stores, and a Methodist Church. Donley, like other Panhandle counties, has developed a substantial agricultural industry, a crop failure has never been known, and the population now find the sources of living both in the ranch and in the fields by following diversification in crops. Interest in dairying and poultry raising is increasing.
Irrigation is not necessary, for the average rainfall is 25 inches. with abundance of good shallow water. Several natural lakes are in the vicinity of Lelia Lake, a town of 500, seven miles east of Clarendon, on the Fort Worth & Denver City Railway.
It is one of the greatest alfalfa centers and shipping points in Texas There are also several pure-bred herds of hogs that have become famous here. Hedley, a town of 800, fourteen miles east of Clarendon, is a center for pure-bred, big bone Poland-China hogs, having some of the finest herds in Texas, and it is one of the finest farming sections in the historic Green Belt of the Panhandle.
At the last census Donley had 1,000 farms. The progress in the ten-year period in agriculture is indicated by the increase in farms to a total number of 601 in 1910, as compared with 188 in 1900. The approximate land area of Donley County is 579,840 acres and the last census reported 488,721 acres in farms, with about 82,000 acres in "improved land," as compared with about 14,500 acres so classified in 1900. The county is essentially a diversified farming and stock-raising section, and the census enumerators found 31,896 cattle, about 4,500 horses and mules, 5,132 hogs, 720 sheep, and 24,639 poultry ; in 1920 there were : 21,464 cattle. 5,957 horses and mules, 7,200 hogs, 600 sheep, and $35,000 poultry. In 1909, 30,975 acres were planted in the cereal crops, including 19,675 acre, in corn, 766 acres in oats, 270 acres in wheat, 10,262 acres in kaffir corn and milo maize, and in 1920 this was increased by 100 per cent. The acreage in hay and forage crops was 12,108, including 679 acres in alfalfa and 8,229 acres in coarse forage. Cotton is an increasing crop, and had 4,811 acres in 1909, with about 20,000 acres in 1920, and some attention is also paid to the vegetable crops. About 30,000 orchard fruit trees were enumerated, and the statistics also showed production of grapes and small fruits. - History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.