JAYTON, TEXAS. Jayton, the county seat of Kent County, is on State Highway 70 and Farm roads 1228 and 1083, twenty-three miles west of Aspermont and fourteen miles northeast of Clairemont in the northeastern part of the county. It was originally named Jay Flat and was two miles northwest of the present site. The name honored a Jay family, early ranchers in the area. Daniel M. Jay was granted a post office in the community in 1886. In 1907 the settlement was moved to a location on the new Stamford and Northwestern Railway and renamed Jayton. Within a short time many businesses had opened, and the town was incorporated on February 11, 1910. The first newspaper was the Jayton Herald, founded about 1908 by a man named Morris. An early recreation site was Putoff Canyon, three miles north of Jayton. The canyon, named for a Mr. Putoff, had a large freshwater spring that attracted writers and artists from 1900 to about 1914. One visitor was Zane Grey, who used the setting for his novel The Thundering Herd (1925).
Numerous fires in the early 1900s destroyed or damaged a large number of Jayton's early businesses before an adequate water system was constructed in 1925. Until its decline in the 1930s, cotton was the major economic factor for the community. In the late 1930s oil was discovered in the county. In 1954, after a lengthy court battle, Jayton replaced Clairemont as county seat. Loss of the railroad by the early 1960s and a limited local economy kept the population at a modest level; it varied from a high of 750 in the mid-1920s to about 638 during the 1980s. In 1980 Jayton had a post office, a bank, and ten businesses. With its chief economy based on farming and oil-related services, the town was the only incorporated town in the county. Jayton had a population of 608 in 1990. The population dropped to 513 in 2000.
Jim W. Corder, Chronicle of a Small Town (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989). Claude W. Dooley, comp., Why Stop? (Odessa: Lone Star Legends, 1978; 2d ed., with Betty Dooley and the Texas Historical Commission, Houston: Lone Star, 1985). Jewell G. Pritchett and Erma B. Black, Kent County and Its People (Rotan, Texas: Rotan Advance, 1983).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Charles G. Davis, "JAYTON, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlj02), accessed June 16, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.