The history of the Texas panhandle is fascinating. Stories of Billy the Kid, warring settlements, ghosts, outlaws, and legendary lawmen are commonplace here.
Looking back in those early days of this land, there's a curious origin story to be found. See, the first three settlements in the Texas panhandle can be described as: two wild ones and one that aimed for sobriety.
The Original Three Of The Texas Panhandle...
The original three settlements are Tascosa, Mobeetie, and Clarendon. The first two have quite a wild reputation thanks to the colorful individuals that inhabited them. The latter one was started as a "sobriety settlement" to counteract the other two.
Tascosa and Mobeetie--two places that were boozy and wild as the frontier itself. Clarendon sought to be a more respectable and buttoned-up type of settlement.
Hidetown...I mean Sweetwater...No, I mean Mobeetie.
Mobeetie got its start by being called Sweetwater. They had to change that when they got a post office. You see, Sweetwater was a popular name, and the Postal Service didn't want to deal with the confusion.
Well, that's not entirely true. Before that, it was called Hidetown because buffalo hunters set up camp there.
In 1876, the Sweetwater Shootout occurred. According to legend, one Anthony Cook shot and killed a dance hall girl by the name of Mollie Brennan. He also happened to take a shot at legendary lawman Bat Masterson. As anyone will probably tell you, pulling a gun on Bat was a bad idea.
Masterson would be wounded. Anthony Cook would get a permanent view of the sky after Bat ended his life.
Eventually, Sweetwater would change its name to Mobeetie. The thought was that Mobeetie was a Native American word for Sweetwater. In all reality, it's more than likely the word for buffalo dung.
Old Tascosa; The Wildest Of The Wild West.
We've discussed Tascosa and the wild stories that come from it. Brothels and gambling halls were part of what made it attractive to people like Billy The Kid. There were shootouts. Boy, howdy...were there shootouts. It had a nasty reputation for being absolutely lawless.
All that remains of Old Tascosa now is what you'll find out at Boys Ranch and Boot Hill.
Clarendon Was The Panhandle's Hope For Redemption.
Clarendon got its start thanks to the Methodists. True story.
It was a Methodist man of the cloth that got the town going. His hope hope was that this town would be the righteous answer to Tascosa and Mobeetie.
While the Soddom and Gomorah of the High Plains were home to brothels, gambling, and violence, Clarendon would be a "sobriety settlement." Old cowboys used to refer to it as "Saint's Roost" thanks to its clean-living ways.
Eventually, Clarendon would have to pull up stakes and move because of how far it was from the railroad. Now it's home to Harvard On The Hill, Clarendon College.
Due in part, I assume, to relocating a tad bit closer to the train tracks. Meanwhile, Tascosa and Mobeetie would see the same fate as the vagabonds who gathered there: forgotten and returned to dust.