Lewis Henry Carhart, son of Isaac D. and Nancy (Bangs) Carhart, was born in Albany County, New York, in 1833. He graduated from the theological department of Northwestern University and the Garrett Biblical Institute and served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1866 he was assigned on trial to the Arkansas Methodist Conference. By 1877 he was in charge of a pastorate in Sherman, Texas. There he developed an interest in establishing a Christian colony in the Texas Panhandle that would discourage liquor consumption and other "impure" activities. He married Clara Sully, a Canadian whose brother Alfred worked for Austin and Corbett, an influential New York investment firm. The couple had two children.
Carhart launched his advertising campaign from Sherman and attracted prospective colonists from the East and Midwest. Alfred Sully provided the financial backing. In 1878, after traveling via Dodge City and Mobeetie to their colony site in the Panhandle, the promoters founded their Christian colony and named it Clarendon, in honor of Carhart's wife. In 1879 Carhart established the Panhandle's first newspaper, the Clarendon News. Ed Carhart, son of Lewis's cousin John Wesley Carhart of Wisconsin, acted as the paper's printer and later its editor. Although Clara Sully Carhart lived for a time in Clarendon, she never wanted to live permanently in a frontier environment and throughout the next several years retained family residences at Sherman and Dallas.
In 1880 Carhart was appointed pastor to a large Methodist church in Dallas. He placed his brother-in-law, Benjamin Horton White, and another attorney, J. C. Murdock, in charge of managing the affairs in Clarendon. Carhart went on to a two-year pastorate in Fort Worth, after which he returned to Donley County in 1884 and established his Quarter Circle Heart Ranch. In 1884 or 1885 he sailed to England on a stock-selling venture and, with Sully's backing, organized the Clarendon Land Investment and Agency Company. He then returned to manage his expanded ranching operations, ably assisted by his foreman, Al S. McKinney. Unfortunately, unwise investments, coupled with the drought and blizzard of 1886–87, resulted in tremendous losses, and when the English stockholders sent Count Cecil Kearney to investigate in June 1887, Carhart resigned his position and moved from Clarendon.
He returned to the Methodist ministry, but, in spite of his affection for people and his powers of persuasion, he never regained the leadership that he had formerly had. He moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1891 and invested his remaining money in a bathhouse. Afterward, he migrated to Sawtelle, California, where he died in the Union Soldier's Home.