Armstrong County, Texas

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Armstrong County, Texas
Armstrong County Courthouse, Claude, TX.jpg
The Armstrong County Courthouse in Claude
Map of Texas highlighting Armstrong County
Location in the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded 1890
Seat Claude
Largest city Claude
 • Total 914 sq mi (2,367 km2)
 • Land 909 sq mi (2,354 km2)
 • Water 4.7 sq mi (12 km2), 0.5%
 • (2010) 1,901
 • Density 2.1/sq mi (1/km²)
Congressional district 13th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

Armstrong County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,901.[1] Its county seat is Claude.[2] The county was formed in 1876 and later organized in 1890.[3] It was named for one of several Texas pioneer families named Armstrong.

Armstrong County is included in the Amarillo, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Tom Blasingame, the oldest cowboy in the history of the American West, lived in Armstrong County and worked for seventy-three years in ranching, mostly on the JA Ranch. Ranch historian Laura Vernon Hamner interviewed many "old-timers" in Armstrong County during the last decade of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century in preparation for her later writings on the Texas Panhandle.


Native Americans[edit]

Paleo-Indians first inhabitants as far back as 10,000 BC. Apachean cultures roamed the county until Comanche dominated around 1700. The Comanches were defeated by the United States Army in the Red River War of 1874. Later tribes include Kiowa, Cheyenne.[4]

County established and growth[edit]

Armstrong County was formed from Bexar County in 1876, and organized in 1890, with Claude as the county seat.[4]

Charles Goodnight and John George Adair established ranching in the county. In 1876 Goodnight brought a herd of 1,600 cattle into the Palo Duro Canyon. The JA Ranch encompassed over a million acres (4,000 km²), including Armstrong County and five adjoining counties. The county land use was primarily ranch-related, even after the trickling in of homesteaders, for the remainder of the 19th century.[5]

In 1887 the JA Ranch split up, giving way to a terminus for the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. The first town from the ranch was Goodnight.[6]

Landowner Robert E. Montgomery platted the town of Washburn, named after railroad executive D.W. Washburn.[7]

The next year, railroad lines turned Washburn into a boom town. In the same year, Armstrong City was renamed Claude in honor of railroad engineer Claude Ayers.[8]

In 1890, the two towns competed for County Seat, with Claude winning. Many scenes of the 1963 Paul Newman film Hud were filmed at Goodnight and Claude.[9][10][11]

At the beginning of the 20th century, ranching began to share the land with cotton and wheat crops, although ranching remained the leading industry. The Great Depression had a severe effect on the county’s economy, and recovery took years. Ranches still occupied about 68 percent of the land in the county in 2005.[4]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 914 square miles (2,370 km2), of which 909 square miles (2,350 km2) is land and 4.7 square miles (12 km2) (0.5%) is water.[12]

Major highways[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 31
1890 944 2,945.2%
1900 1,205 27.6%
1910 2,682 122.6%
1920 2,816 5.0%
1930 3,329 18.2%
1940 2,495 −25.1%
1950 2,215 −11.2%
1960 1,966 −11.2%
1970 1,895 −3.6%
1980 1,994 5.2%
1990 2,021 1.4%
2000 2,148 6.3%
2010 1,901 −11.5%
Est. 2016 1,876 [13] −1.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[14]
1850–2010[15] 2010–2014[1]

As of the census[16] of 2000, there were 2,148 people, 802 households, and 612 families residing in the county. The population density was 2 people per square mile (1/km²). There were 920 housing units at an average density of 1 per square mile (0/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.44% White, 0.28% Black or African American, 0.65% Native American, 2.79% from other races, and 0.84% from two or more races. 5.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 802 households out of which 33.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.20% were married couples living together, 6.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.60% were non-families. 21.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county, the population was spread out with 26.00% under the age of 18, 6.10% from 18 to 24, 24.80% from 25 to 44, 23.80% from 45 to 64, and 19.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 93.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $38,194, and the median income for a family was $43,894. Males had a median income of $30,114 versus $21,786 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,151. About 7.90% of families and 10.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.80% of those under age 18 and 11.60% of those age 65 or over.


The Claude Independent School District serves almost all of Armstrong County.

Three school districts headquartered in surrounding counties, Clarendon Consolidated Independent School District, Groom Independent School District, and Happy Independent School District, have small unincorporated portions of Armstrong County.



Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "Texas: Individual County Chronologies". Texas Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Abbe, Donald R. "Armstrong County". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 21 December 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Hagen, William Thomas (2007). "Launching the JA Ranch 1877-1880". Charles Goodnight: Father of the Texas Panhandle. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 45–60. ISBN 978-0-8061-3827-5. 
  6. ^ "Goodnight, Texas and Charles Goodnight". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Archived from the original on 21 December 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Washburn, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Claude, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  9. ^ Dingus, Anne (July 1991). "Texas Movies". Texas Monthly: 92. 
  10. ^ Baker, T. Lindsay (2005). More Ghost Towns of Texas. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0-8061-3724-7. 
  11. ^ Jackson, Carlton (1994). Picking Up the Tab: The Life and Movies of Martin Ritt. Popular Press 1. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-87972-672-0. 
  12. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  14. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved April 18, 2015. 
  16. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°58′N 101°21′W / 34.97°N 101.35°W / 34.97; -101.35