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Childress, the county seat of Childress County, is at the junction of U.S. highways 287, 62, and 83, in the central part of the county. The town is named for George C. Childress, author of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It developed out of two separate townsites, Childress City and Henry, which were platted about four miles apart on land previously occupied by the OX Ranch. When Childress County was organized upon the arrival of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway in February 1887, the two towns contested for the position of county seat. In the first election, held on April 11, 1887, Childress City, which already had three businesses, won the honor. A wooden courthouse was built under the supervision of Amos J. Fires, the "Dean of the Panhandle Lawyers." However, the Donley County Court (to which Childress County was attached for judicial purposes at the time) canvassed the election and declared it illegal. R. E. Montgomery, the railroad's right-of-way and townsite agent, had always favored Henry as the county seat because of the rougher terrain at Childress City, which he claimed would prevent the railroad from building a depot there. Significantly, he had also purchased half the property in Henry. After the court's action, Montgomery proposed that the railroad give those owning lots in Childress City lots in Henry. Furthermore, when Henry was chosen county seat in another election, the company offered to change the name of Henry to Childress. Fires and his associates agreed to this compromise, and the businesses and residences were moved to the new Childress by September 1887.

The town then enjoyed a boom from the railroad, which constructed the Dwight Hotel, the section house, and the depot. The Childress Lumber Company opened for business soon afterward. Dr. J. H. Christler became the first physician and one of the town's first businessmen. Fires, who was elected county judge, started the first bank and helped organized the first school system. James S. Harrison began the town's first newspaper, the Childress County Index (later the Childress Index), in 1888. Four churches, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Church of Christ, were established in Childress by 1889. The city was incorporated in 1890. It had a post office, a livery stable, a boarding house, a restaurant, three stores, a local YMCA, a theater, and a population of 621. There were also several saloons at first, but in 1904 a fatal shooting prompted the citizens to vote the town dry. In 1901, when the Fort Worth and Denver City began considering Childress as a division point, the citizens approved bonds and donated land to build shops, roundhouses, and terminal facilities. These businesses, in addition to the influx of farmers and homesteaders, provided more jobs and resulted in a population increase to 5,003 by 1910. Walter P. Chrysler served as general foreman of the Childress railroad shops in 1905 and 1906 before working as a master mechanic in Iowa and subsequently founding the Chrysler Motor Corporation. After a fire destroyed the first courthouse in 1891, an elaborate stone building was constructed and used until the present courthouse was built in 1939. For years a large windmill in the middle of Main Street served as the city's water source.

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H. Allen Anderson | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Henry is part of or belongs to the following places:

Currently Exists


Place type

Henry is classified as a Town

Associated Names

  • (Childress 2)

Has Post Office


Is Incorporated