Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Tex Ritter Museum

By: Jerry Shannon Olson

Type: General Entry

Published: April 27, 2015

Updated: January 3, 2018

The Tex Ritter Museum, established in Carthage, Texas, in October 1992, was spearheaded by Tex Ritter’s cousin and president of Panola County’s Chamber of Commerce, Tommie Ritter Smith. The museum, which initially was housed on the top floor of an antebellum home, the Hawthorn-Clabaugh-Patterson House, was expanded in 1997 to include the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. In order to make room for the expansion, the city built a $2.2 million, 13,000-square-foot structure that houses the current museum. Built to showcase Texas’s extensive contribution to country music, the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Tex Ritter Museum highlights the careers of a variety of native Texans who have had an important impact on the genre. With more than 500 country music fans visiting the location every month, the Hall of Fame and Museum has become a very popular tourist attraction. The facility includes lecture space to seat 300 and a commercial kitchen.

Carthage, an East Texas town with a population of 6,904, is located in Panola County near the Texas-Louisiana border. Although limited in population, this county has produced two of the most popular figures in country music—Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter and Jim Reeves. These two Panola County natives, along with influential Texas musicians from all over the Lone Star State, are well represented in the Hall of Fame and Museum.

Since 1998 the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Tex Ritter Museum has inducted more than forty Texas artists, all of whom received a personalized plaque acknowledging the highlights of their lives and careers. Additionally it maintains a Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. The Hall itself is packed with a wide array of memorabilia showcasing the various contributions that these artists have made to country music. In addition to the individual artist tributes, the museum also includes a vintage movie marquee as a reminder of the important long-standing relationship between Hollywood and country music.

In 1998 the Hall of Fame announced its first inductees which included Cindy Walker, Tex Ritter, Willie Nelson, Jim Reeves, and Gene Autry. Many luminaries in country music have since been honored in the Hall of Fame, including Ernest Tubb, Hank Thompson, Waylon Jennings, Dale Evans, Bob Wills, Charlie Walker, Ray Price, Tanya Tucker, Kris Kristofferson, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Bush, Mac Davis, Jimmy Dean, Johnny Gimble, the Gatlin Brothers, Billy Joe Shaver, Mickey Newbury, Buck Owens, George Jones, Ray Winkler, Moe Bandy, and others.

Despite being relatively new, the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Tex Ritter Museum already has established an impressive pantheon of Texas musicians and seems destined to continue attracting more musicians and visitors well into the future. With the addition of new inductees each year, the Hall of Fame and Museum is helping to preserve and celebrate Texas music history for future generations of music fans.

Tommie Ritter Smith, Telephone Interview by Jerry Shannon Olson, November 2, 2007. Gerald E. McLeod, “Day Trips” (http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/column?oid=oid%3A499201), accessed November 2, 2007. Texas Country Music Hall of Fame (http://www.tcmhof.com), accessed January 9, 2018.


  • Music
  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Museums
  • Hall of Fame Museums

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

Jerry Shannon Olson, “Texas Country Music Hall of Fame and Tex Ritter Museum,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 24, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-country-music-hall-of-fame-and-tex-ritter-museum.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

April 27, 2015
January 3, 2018

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: