Laura Vernon Hamner

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Laura Vernon Hamner
Born (1871-07-17)July 17, 1871
Tennessee USA
Died September 20, 1968(1968-09-20) (aged 97)

(1) Amarillo, Potter County, Texas (1922-her death)

(2) Claude, Armstrong County, Texas (1890s-1921)

Author; Ranch historian;

Educator; Public official
Spouse(s) Never married
Children One adopted child

Laura Vernon Hamner (July 17, 1871 – September 20, 1968) was an American author, ranch historian, radio commentator, educator, and public official from the Texas Panhandle who was known informally in her later years as "Miss Amarillo", a reference to her adopted city of Amarillo, Texas.[1]


Born in Tennessee to James Henry Hamner and the former Laura Lula Hendrix, Laura was educated at Miss Higbee's School for Young Ladies in Memphis, and Peabody College in Nashville. She also studied at the University of Chicago. Miss Hamner, who never married, was a teacher for many years. From 1913-1921 (Woodrow Wilson administration), she served as the appointed postmistress at Claude, the seat of Armstrong County east of Amarillo. From 1922-1938, she was the Potter County school superintendent, a position which brought her to Amarillo, where she resided for the remainder of her life.[2] Hamner lived for years in the Herring Hotel in Amarillo, owned by Mayor Ernest O. Thompson. Long after she had been school superintendent she was informally known as "Miss Amarillo".


In the early 1890s, while she assisted her father in his newspaper work in Claude, she met Charles Goodnight and his wife, Mary Ann, In 1935, six years after Goodnight's death, she wrote The No-Gun Man of Texas, a novel-ized biography of the legendary cattleman, former co-owner of the large JA Ranch. Her research into life stories of old-timers led to Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943) and Light 'n Hitch (1958). For more than three decades, Hamner wrote features for the Amarillo Globe-News. She appeared weekly on radio to discuss life during early Panhandle times.[2]

In 1947, she published in Reader's Digest an article about Matthew "Bones" Hooks (1867–1951), an African American cowboy from Amarillo. Hooks, who was born to former slaves, was only semiliterate but had an historical consciousness. He crossed the West Texas plains, broke horses, and handled the remudas on cattle drives, later settling into life as a townsman. Hooks became a leader of the black community in Amarillo and the High Plains. He established one of the first black churches in West Texas.[3]

Later years[edit]

In the 1920s, Hamner and a friend, in an effort to encourage other writers, formed the group, Panhandle Pen Women. In her later years, she resided in the Herring Hotel in Amarillo, where she frequently met with literary agents, publishers, and writers from throughout the world. At one point, she lived briefly on a land claim in Oklahoma. She adopted a child. She was made an honorary member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. “Laura V. Hamner Week” was frequently observed in Amarillo.[2]

Hamner died in Alabama, where she was visiting a relative. A Methodist, she is interred beside her parents in Claude. Most of her papers are in either the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon or the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center of the University of Texas at Austin. She is included in the “Listing of Great Texas Women”.[4]



Further reading[edit]

  • Ina M. O. McAdams, Texas Women of Distinction, McAdams, Austin, 1962.
  • Deolece Miller, Miss Laura of Amarillo, Texas Parade, December 1954.
  • Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags, 5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930.