Rayner was located in southeast Stonewall County eight miles east of the site of present-day Aspermont and south of U.S. Highway 380. "Captain" W. E. Rayner, land speculator and manager of the St. Louis Land and Cattle Company, planned to found a town named Rayner that would become the seat of the proposed Stonewall County. A petition was circulated in the area to separate Stonewall County from Jones County, and formal organization was granted by an election on December 20, 1888. An ambiguous clause on the ballot made Rayner the county seat, although some voters protested that the election was fraudulent. Rayner, who later helped found the settlement that eventually became Lubbock, nevertheless went ahead with his plan, and the new county seat was officially platted on June 12, 1889, just north of the Horse Shoe Ranch lands. A post office had already been established at the location on January 25, 1889, with Loulah Posey as postmaster. Within a year Rayner had persuaded a number of businesses to move to the new town, which had several general stores, a photography studio, a barbershop, and a printing shop. The town was also said to have water hydrants in the business district, supplied by a reservoir located west of the town. Eventually Rayner also had a cotton gin and grain mill, and a schoolhouse that cost $800. The first county newspaper, the Monitor, was established in Rayner in 1889 and was published for one year. It was followed by the Texas Lasso, which was edited by W. L. Sargent. Masonic Lodge #704, the first in the county, was established in 1890. By 1892 the town had a population of about 250 as well as several stores, a newspaper, a school, three churches, a blacksmith shop, and a saloon. Although a rock courthouse was built in Rayner in the early 1890s, the nearby town of Aspermont was preparing to contest the county seat location. After an initially unsuccessful election, a second election held on June 4, 1898, made Aspermont the new site by a vote of 145 to 114. Most Rayner businesses soon moved to Aspermont, and the town rapidly declined. The post office was discontinued on June 30, 1906, and by 1910 the town was largely abandoned. Little remained of Rayner by the 1980s except the old courthouse, indicated by a historical marker near U.S. Highway 380 east of Aspermont, and the Rayner cemetery, located on a local road three miles southwest of Old Glory.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Charles G. Davis | © Texas State Historical Association
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