Our Community History
The History of Channing
Researched and written by Kade Kistner
George Channing Rivers, a paymaster for the FWDC railway, founded Channing, Texas, in 1888. Channing was originally named Rivers after its founder, but when the the town applied for a post office, it was discovered that another town had the same name; it then adopted its founder's middle name of Channing. Channing was not much of a town until 1900 when the town when the town had two stores, a post office, a grocery store, two lumber yards, and a number of saloons. It also boasted three churches, a grand hotel, and a school.
With the population near 600, the town began a newspaper called the Channing Courier. The paper was originally a Tascosa paper, which moved to Channing during the downfall of Tascosa. The paper was published weekly when it first came, but soon became a daily publication. C. F. Rudolph was the editor and one of Channing's earliest citizens. A local women's club established a public library in 1908. It later burned down.
Channing was also home to one of the biggest things in Texas: the general house to the XIT ranch. Mr. A. G. Botce was manager of the house and business. He was in charge of selling land to the new town of Channing. He wanted all XIT land to be sold under his watch and near the XIT headquarters in Channing.
Hotel Rivers was one of the finest hotels in all of Texas. The hotel had room service and a Chinese laundry, one of the Panhandle's first. The hotel also housed the biggest event in the town, the XIT Christmas feast and kept a number of "celebrities" of the time. The hotel had once been the framework for courthouse in Hartley, but then the county seat moved to Channing after two elections, one in 1896 and the other in 1903. The framework was brought on wheels by a number of XIT cowboys in 1906 when the brick courthouse was built. the framework was built into the hotel.
Religious beliefs played a major role in the development and early life of Channing. With three churches in the town, most people were expected to go to church. J. W. Farwell preached to XIT cowboys on Sunday mornings. The Baptist church was founded in 1900, and William Powell, an English emigrant, helped to establish the Methodist church. The facts concerning the year the latter church was founded vary from one source to the next. Many different locals and historians declare different dates, but the date on the church's historical marker is 1901. It was the first Methodist church north of the Canadian River. Channing never got as bad as its neighboring towns, such as Tascosa. Channing never participated in prostitution or gambling, but it did have many saloons, all later voted out--thanks to Mr. J. W. Farwell and many other religious leaders in Channing.
Channing originally had an adobe school, which was burned down by a Mexican man who was angry with the school. The school then moved to the Baptist church and the Masonic lodge. Another brick school was built in 1911, but it also was destroyed by fire in later years. Mr. William Powell helped with the school while balancing his cattle business on the side. He and his brother, James Powell, were the first to bring Herefords into the Panhandle. They were emigrants from England. Mrs. A. G. Bocce also helped with the school.
Fire struck the town sometime in the early 1900s and destroyed many homes and businesses. In spite of this, Channing continued to flourish; in 1914, it possessed a school, bank-store, Masonic lodge, city garage, two gas stations, and nine businesses in the business district. However, when fire plagued the city again in 1928, many people did move to other towns with better luck, never to return.
In the beginning days of Channing, Mexican citizens were not allowed to live just anywhere in town. They had to live on the northwest side of town, and they were not allowed in store or business. Obviously, some years later that changed.
The Powell family constitutes a place of prominence in the progress and history of Channing. The Powells were the first to breed pure Herefords in the Panhandle. In addition to this, they helped to found many of Channing's businesses and a church. The Powells also helped to found the school, and they brought in lots of business. Both James and his brother William were from England.
Channing's cemetery is one of the oldest in the Panhandle. The entire west end of the cemetery is from the early days of Channing. In Fact, many of the names found in the cemetery can be recognized as the names of families that founded the town. One of these names is Bouldin; the only Civil War soldier buried in the cemetery comes from the family.
There are several homes in Channing today that were built in the early 1900s. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Davis' home, built by the Queen family, in one of the earliest, and another home that is still lived in today is the Mr. and Mrs. Bill Kirkeminde residence. Mr. and Mrs. Jim Rentfro's home is one of the old XIT houses. Actually, all of today's Channing landowners can find in their deed that the land they live on once belonged to the XIT.
Channing is certainly not the town it once was or even the town it was meant to be. In 1980, the population was 352, in the 1990s it dropped to 277, and the present population is 356. However, it will always possess a history, rich in promise and intrigue.
Culwell, Marge. Personal interview. May. 2005.