photo by Ken Mayer
Donley County Courthouse
"The Jewel of the Plains"
Donley County is located in the southeast quadrant of the Texas Panhandle, and Clarendon, the county seat, is located 60 miles southeast of Amarillo. Donley County was created by the Texas Legislature in 1876, and organized in 1882. The County was named after Stockton P. Donley, who was a Texas Supreme Court Justice and a Confederate veteran. According to the 2000 Federal Census, Donley County’s population is 3,828. Clarendon has a population of 1,974 and other towns in the county are Howardwick (pop. 437), Hedley (pop. 379), and Lelia Lake (pop. 125).
The local economy is based primarily on agribusiness and tourism with higher education and light manufacturing also playing important roles. Cattle ranching and farming (cotton, peanuts, wheat, alfalfa and hay) with 11,000 irrigated acres comprises the local agricultural activity.
Donley County is home to several historic sites, including the Donley County Courthouse; Clarendon College; Saints Roost Museum, many churches which were the first in the Panhandle for their denomination, and historic homes such as the S.W. Lowe home.