Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lockney Christian College (4): The Return of Showalter and Later Developments

The summer of 1904 must have been an exciting time in Lockney, Texas. Several issues of the Firm Foundation carried announcements that Lockney Christian College would begin its tenth session on September 6, and that G. H. P. Showalter was returning as president.

Even before the start of the new school year, on August 25, Lockney played host to a debate between a Baptist preacher named J. N. Hall and one of the greatest debaters among the Churches of Christ, Joe S. Warlick. Approximately 1,500 people, roughly three times the population of the town, attended, and the president of the college served as Warlick's moderator. In addition to his debating, Warlick preached three sermons in Lockney, and 40 people were baptized into Christ.[1]

It likely came as a blow when, in 1906, Showalter announced for a second time that he would be leaving Lockney to help establish yet another Christian school. This time he was going to Sabinal, Texas, about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio on the Southern Pacific Railroad, where he would help to found Sabinal Christian College [2]

Showalter was succeeded at by James A. Sisco, whose tenure lasted only a year and a half. Not long after Sisco resigned in the middle of the 1907-08 school year, a certain J. F. Smith visited Lockney and observed the college, now under the direction of its new president, James L. German. The February 27, 1908 issue of the Gospel Advocate included Smith's impressions. Lockney was a town of five hundred people, he wrote. About 75 percent of the people in the town and that part of the county were "faithful Christians." The school was off to a good start with its new president, and several young men in attendance were planning to preach. In addition, a number of supporters of the school were planning to construct "a good school building, estimated to cost ten thousand dollars, which is very much needed in this undertaking."[3]


[1] Robert M. Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 21-22. For a brief description of the  Hall-Warlick debate, which appears to be a contemporary report, see the following URL, accessed Feb. 17, 2019,

[2] Ibid., 23. For a brief history of Sabinal Christian College (1907-1917), see M. Norvel Young, A History of Colleges Established and Controlled by Members of the Churches of Christ (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club, 1949), 158-61.

[3] Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 23-24. J. F. Smith, "Lockney Bible College," Gospel Advocate (February 27, 1908), 139.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Lockney Christian College (3): Apparent Troubles

Following five years of successful work as president of Lockney Christian College, G. H. P. Showalter resigned and moved to Bethel, New Mexico, near Portales. He explained that he was going there to help S. W. Smith, a co-founder of the school at Lockney, to establish another school.[1]

In retrospect, this move seems related to a string of events, all of which reflected and made for instability. In 1902, the year Showalter resigned, W. O. Hines, Arthur S. Kennamer, and N. L. Clark purchased Lockney Christian College. The new owners changed the name to Lockney College and Bible School.

The next year, Clark, who was then serving as president, announced that he would be moving to Grayson County, Texas, some 300 miles to the east. Clark was moving there to become president of Gunter Bible College, a school that was always controlled by non-Sunday School advocates among the Churches of Christ, and that eventually trained hundreds of students of that persuasion, including 150 preachers. Then, during the 1903-04 school year, Lockney Christian College was apparently never in session.[2]

Were these unexpected changes at Lockney connected to the fact that over the next few years, N. L. Clark, one of the new owners, and who succeeded Showalter as president, would emerge as a prominent leader among non-Sunday School advocates? The details are not easy to track down. But it may be noteworthy that in 1904, when Showalter returned to serve a second time as president, his first act was to restore the name of the school to Lockney Christian College.[3] It might also be significant that, to this day, in the towns of Lockney and nearby Floydada, both of which have been dwindling in population for decades, there are congregations of the non-class persuasion and congregations with separate Bible classes.


[1] Handbook of Texas Online, R. L. Roberts, "LOCKNEY CHRISTIAN COLLEGE," accessed February 12, 2019,

[2] Ibid. See also Robert M. Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 1960, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Research Center, Canyon, TX, 17-21. For more on N. L. Clark and Gunter Bible College, see M. Norvel Young, A History of Colleges Established and Controlled by Members of the Churches of Christ (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club, 1949), 152-58; and Handbook of Texas Online, N. L. Clark, "GUNTER BIBLE COLLEGE," accessed February 16, 2019,

[3] Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 21.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Lockney Christian College (2): After the Start

At least two factors led to the growth of Lockney Christian College during its first few years. In 1895, a local public school closed and most if not all of its former students enrolled at the college. Then, in 1897, G. H. P. Showalter, was named president of the school. A native of Virginia who earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Milligan College in East Tennessee, Showalter was a capable man and a natural leader. He would go on serve at the editor of the Firm Foundation from 1908 until his death in 1954.

As the new president of the school, which was now functioning as the public school for the moment, Showalter proved himself to be adaptable. Scores of young students, many of them with no connection to the church of Christ, was not what the founders of Lockney Christian College had in mind. Nevertheless, the new president reorganized the school and focused on elementary education. Under his leadership, the student body grew. In 1898, the school constructed a second frame building. The next year, enrollment stood at 425. Showalter and other staff at the school recruited students and asked for contributions by way of regular notices they sent to the Firm Foundation under the title "Lockney Links."[1]

In 1900, one such notice quoted from the college catalog as follows: "All human beings are creatures of education and they are happy and useful to the extent that they are properly educated. The knowledge acquired during the first twenty years of life, in a large measure shapes the future life of that person. A few rise above these earthly environments, but the many do not. We are convinced after several years of observation, that the impression made upon the mind during the period of development are never wholly effaced. . . We should labor unceasingly to throw around the child those environments only which will conduce its usefulness and happiness. . . . What book could take the place of the Bible in our curriculum?"[2]


[1] Handbook of Texas Online, R. L. Roberts, "LOCKNEY CHRISTIAN COLLEGE," accessed February 12, 2019, See also M. Norvel Young, A History of Colleges Established and Controlled by Members of the Churches of Christ (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club, 1949), 149-50; and Robert M. Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 8-11.

[2] Firm Foundation, April 24, 1900, as quoted in Robert M. Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 1960, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Research Center, Canyon, TX, 14.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lockney Christian College (1): Early Beginnings

Construction begins for Lockney Christian College 1894 (click for larger view)

Among the earliest settlers in Floyd County, Texas, were Charles Walker Smith and St. Clair W. (S. W.) Smith. Contrary to some reports, the two were not brothers. Charles Walker was born in Holmes County, Mississippi, and S. W. hailed from Weakley County, Tennessee.[1] Yet the two men did recognize a spiritual kinship. Both were members of the Church of Christ, and both took an interest in Christian education.

In the fall of 1894, they established Lockney Christian College, "a school in which the Bible was taught daily in connection with a regular academic course."[2] With an announcement they titled "To the Brotherhood and Friends of Lockney Christian College," the Smiths made their appeal to like-minded believers to support their project. Some did. Above all, the Firm Foundation, a popular church journal published from Austin, Texas, edited by its founder, Austin McGary, provided consistent encouragement. In the fall of 1894, just as the school was opening, the journal included an announcement that heralded the school and that described Lockney as "a beautiful and healthful location. . . in the heart of the plains, one of the natural wonders of Texas." As a result of this kind of publicity, both the college and town experienced noticeable growth.[3]

In a new, frame two-story building twenty-four by forty-eight feet, classes began on October 2 with sixteen students. Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Burleson of Uvalde, Texas, moved to Lockney to serve as the first teachers.[4] Although the school was called a college, it offered no college-level courses at first. During its early years, Lockney Christian College taught courses only at the primary and secondary levels. Today, we would likely call it a Christian academy. But it aspired to be a college in every sense of the word. It would one day achieve that status.


[1] Handbook of Texas Online, Charles G. Davis, "SMITH, CHARLES WALKER," accessed February 12, 2019, For information on St. Clair W. [S. W.] Smith, see, accessed February 12, 2019.

[2] M. Norvel Young, A History of Colleges Established and Controlled by Members of the Churches of Christ (Kansas City, MO: Old Paths Book Club, 1949), 148.

[3] Robert M. Platt, "A History of Lockney Christian College," 1960, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Research Center, Canyon, TX,  6-7.

[4] Ibid, 6-8. See also Handbook of Texas Online, R. L. Roberts, "LOCKNEY CHRISTIAN COLLEGE," accessed February 12, 2019,

Monday, February 11, 2019

Origins of Floyd County, Texas

In May of 1875, Quanah Parker, a respected figure among the Quahadi Comanches, led more than 400 men, women, and children out of the Texas panhandle and into Oklahoma Territory. At the end of the somber trek of some 200 miles, having traveled for nearly a month, the group arrived at a place called Signal Station, just west of Fort Sill. Standing before U.S. military authorities, the Indians surrendered themselves, their fifteen hundred horses, and their weapons.[1] The Red River War of the previous year had come to an end, and the region known as the Panhandle-Plains was now open land, just waiting for white settlement.

The very next year, in 1876, the Texas legislature created Floyd County, which covers 992 square miles and includes approximately 500,000 acres of arable land. Already by that time, ranchers had moved their free-range cattle operations to the region. But the first settlers did not begin to arrive until the mid-1880s. By 1889, there were at least two communities in the county: Della Plain and its brand new rival, a town that was named for the father of one of the recently-arrived settlers, a Mr. J. F. Lockney.[2] During the 1890s, in spite of hardships brought on by drought, grasshopper plagues, and the financial downturn known as the Panic of 1893, Floyd County grew from 529 residents to more than 2,000, a growth rate for the decade of more than 280 percent.[3]

In 1910, the Santa Fe Railroad added to the excitement when the company built a branch line from Plainview, Texas, to Lockney and Floydada, the county seat. Around that same time, the future of agriculture in the region began to look brighter when local farmers began digging irrigation wells.[4]


[1] S. C. Gwynne, Empire of the Summer Moon (New York: Scribner, 2010), 286.

[2] Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson and Christopher Long, "FLOYD COUNTY," accessed February 11, 2019,; and Kline A. Nall, "LOCKNEY, TX," accessed February 11, 2019,

[3] Anderson and Long, "FLOYD COUNTY." See also, Wikipedia contributors, "Floyd County, Texas," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,,_Texas&oldid=851509818 (accessed February 11, 2019).

[4] Anderson and Long, "FLOYD COUNTY," and Nall, "LOCKNEY, TX."

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Why the Past, and Remembering the Past, Matter

"Although most people usually take it for granted and devote little time to studying or thinking about it, in fact the past is responsible for everything we are. It is the core of our humanity. The past is the world out of which we have come, the multitude of events and experiences that have shaped our conscious selves and the social worlds we inhabit. To understand how and why we live as we do, we cannot avoid appealing to the past to explain how and why we got to be this way.

"But it is not the past alone that plays this crucial role in shaping our identities. No less important is the act of remembering the past, the backward reflective gaze in which we self-consciously seek to recall the world we have lost, the vanished landscape of our former selves and lives, in order to gather the signposts by which we find our way and keep ourselves from becoming lost. If the past is the place from which we have come, then memory and history are the tools we use for recollecting that place so we can know who and where we are."

William Cronon, "Why the Past Matters," Wisconsin Magazine of History 84, no. 1 (Autumn 2000), 4.