Hamblen, William Henry (1876–1952)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

William Henry Hamblen, Panhandle pioneer, the son of Sterling Philip and Martha (McGee) Hamblen, was born on March 12, 1876, in Mulberry, Tennessee. Later the family moved to Texas, first to Johnson County in 1878, then to Hunt County in 1883. On November 8, 1890, they settled on a section in Palo Duro Canyon thirteen miles south of Claude, in Armstrong County. Hamblen began breaking horses and performing various ranch duties for Lee Bivins and other area ranchers. In 1898 J. C. Garey hired him to herd cattle on four sections of land in Moore County. Hamblen filed at that time on three sections near Dumas and made various improvements on them within a matter of months. On October 16, 1900, he married Ada Sprayberry, a native of Anson, who was living with her grandparents on their claim near Happy Draw. The couple traded the Moore County claim in 1902 and for four years resided with Ada's grandparents in Palo Duro Canyon. Then in 1905 they established their permanent ranch homesite near Beulah, later known as Wayside, in southwestern Armstrong County. There Hamblen became a deacon in the Wayside Baptist Church. The Hamblens had fourteen children, nine of whom survived infancy.

Hamblen's most noted contribution to the Panhandle was a passable road through Palo Duro Canyon. As he saw the advent of automobiles and other technological changes, he envisioned a paved highway that would be highly beneficial to the area and attract more people to its varied scenery. Accordingly, during the late 1920s, he oversaw the construction of Hamblen Drive on the route of an old Indian trail across the canyon. It was dedicated in 1930 by the Armstrong County Commissioners Court, to which he had been elected in 1928. For the remainder of his life Hamblen sought to get his road paved and worked diligently to give his community a better link to the outside world. All the while he continued trading stock and often helped aspiring teachers secure employment. He died on December 2, 1952, and was buried in the Wayside community cemetery. His goal of a paved highway was achieved in 1958 when Hamblen Drive was incorporated in State Highway 207 between Claude and Silverton.

Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). 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). Eutha Hamblen, Rim to Rim: History of Will Hamblen (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1971).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Hamblen, William Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hamblen-william-henry.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995