Texas Originals

Laura Vernon Hamner

July 17, 1871–September 20, 1968

Known as "Miss Amarillo," Laura V. Hamner devoted much of her life to recording and sharing the history of the Texas Panhandle.

Hamner was born in 1871. She served as postmistress in the Panhandle town of Claude and then, for more than a decade, as superintendent of the Potter County schools.

Hamner turned to writing in her late fifties. She became known for "prowling" the Panhandle, interviewing ranchers, cowboys, and pioneers—and once boldly facing gunfire to meet with a former outlaw. She was moved by the natural beauty of the region, where, as she often said, "the skies are always blue."

Hamner wrote features for the Amarillo Globe-News for over thirty years, including a column for teenagers. She also had a weekly radio program on early Panhandle history.

Hamner's books remain invaluable chronicles of Texas ranching history. Her biography of legendary rancher Charles Goodnight—told in the form of a novel titled The No-Gun Man of Texas—was corrected and approved by Goodnight himself.

Hamner encouraged other writers through the organization she co-founded in 1919, the Panhandle Pen Women. She often hosted writers and publishers at her residence in Amarillo's Herring Hotel.

Hamner died in 1968. "I love and trust these Westerners with all my heart," she once wrote. "The Panhandle is the grandest spot on earth."

For more about Laura Vernon Hamner

The Laura V. Hamner Papers, 1890–1963, held by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin, contain correspondence, literary productions, scrapbooks, photographic cuts, newspaper clippings, and more. They document Hamner's career as an author, teacher, newspaper columnist, and radio announcer.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon houses the Laura Vernon Hamner Papers. This collection includes photographs, personal correspondence, and research from Hamner's radio program, including scripts, notebooks, and materials she compiled from interviews with area residents pertaining to local history.

A transcript of one of Laura Vernon Hamner's radio broadcasts is available through the Swisher County Genealogical Site.

Selected bibliography

Cowdin, Hugh. "Panhandle Beginnings: Short Grass and Longhorns Found a Cattle Empire." Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 13, 1943. Laura V. Hamner Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin.

Greer, Hilton R. "Authoritative Record of Panhandle Ranching." Dallas Morning News, May 30, 1943. Laura V. Hamner Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin.

Hamner, Laura V. "Driving Texas Cattle in Early Days." Southwest Plainsman, September 9, 1922. Laura V. Hamner Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin.

Hamner, Laura V. Light 'n Hitch: A Collection of Historical Writing Depicting Life on the High Plains. Dallas: American Guild Press, 1958.

Hamner, Laura V. "Matthew 'Bones' Hooks and His Modern Pioneers." Reader's Digest, vol. 50, no. 302 (June 1947).

Hamner, Laura V. The No-Gun Man of Texas: A Century of Achievement, 1835–1929. Amarillo: Laura V. Hamner, 1935.

Hamner, Laura V. Short Grass and Longhorns. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942.

McAdams, Ina M. O. Texas Women of Distinction. Austin: McAdams, 1962.

Miller, Deolece. "Miss Laura of Amarillo." Texas Parade, December 1954.

"Miss Laura Hamner is Guest Speaker." The Shamrock Texan, June 21, 1954. Laura V. Hamner Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin.

"Panhandle Ranch History is Told in New Volume: Author of Short Grass and Longhorn Visitor Here." San Antonio Express, September 14, 1942. Laura V. Hamner Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin.

Parmelee, Deolece M. "Hamner, Laura Vernon." Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed December 16, 2013.

W. S. L. "Laura V. Hamner’s Story of Plains Ranches is Must Reading." Amarillo News Globe, May 30, 1942. Laura V. Hamner Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The University of Texas at Austin.

Wharton, Clarence R., ed. Texas under Many Flags. 5 vols. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930.

Wiesepape, Betty Holland. Lone Star Chapters: The Story of Texas Literary Clubs. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004.

Listen to the audio

Portrait of Laura Vernon Hamner, c. 1905. Laura V. Hamner Papers, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.
Laura Vernon Hamner looking through her research materials, c. 1950. Laura V. Hamner Papers, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.