Mentone, Texas: Wikis


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—  Unincorporated town  —
The Loving County courthouse in Mentone
Mentone is located in Texas
Location within the state of Texas
Coordinates: 31°42′23″N 103°35′54″W / 31.70639°N 103.59833°W / 31.70639; -103.59833Coordinates: 31°42′23″N 103°35′54″W / 31.70639°N 103.59833°W / 31.70639; -103.59833
Country United States
State Texas
County Loving
Elevation 2,684 ft (818 m)
Population (2000 est.)
 - Total 15
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 79754
Area code(s) 432
FIPS code
GNIS feature ID

Mentone is an unincorporated area in Loving County, Texas, the least populous county in the United States. As the county's only community, it serves as the county seat and has an estimated population of 15. It is the least populated county seat in the United States.


Geography and history

Mentone is located at 31.705N, -103.598W. Its elevation is 2,684 feet (818 m). It is situated on State Highway 302, seventy-five miles west of Odessa.

Mentone was founded in 1931, and was named for Menton, France by a French surveyor. Its greatest population was reached in 1933, when the town reported 600 residents. The population has declined ever since, and in 2000 there were only 15 people, "more or less," according to National Geographic magazine.

The total population of Loving County itself (as of 2000) is 67.[1]

An earlier Mentone was founded south of the current town in 1893, but was abandoned in 1905. A second town on that site was called Juanita and then Porterville, but was deserted anew when Mentone was reestablished, with most residents moving to the new town. During its heyday, Mentone boasted five cafes, five gas stations, two hotels, two drugstores, two recreation halls, two barbershops, a dance hall, a machine shop and a dry cleaner. It also had its own newspaper, the Mentone Monitor, which published from 1932 to 1935.

Today, according to National Geographic, Mentone contains a courthouse, two stop signs, gas station, post office and cafe—and little else. A volunteer fire department serves the town, but there are no hospitals or cemeteries, and no doctors or lawyers. The local cafe allows smoking, but does not accept credit cards. Until 1988, Mentone had no drinkable water of its own; local wells yielded water with a high mineral content that clogged pipes and killed grass. Drinking water was trucked in from Pecos, 23 miles (37 km) away, until recent improvements guaranteed the potability of Mentone's water.[2]

Mentone's tiny church (the oldest building in town) is visited every Saturday by a minister from a nearby town who holds interdenominational services there.

Mentone was the home of the first elected female sheriff in Texas, Edna Reed Claton Dewees. Dewees was appointed to the job in January 1945, then won an election to continue in the office through 1947. She never carried a firearm, and reported only two arrests during her entire term. Later she would return as a county district clerk, a job she held from 1965 to 1986. As of January 2000, she still resided on a ranch near Mentone.

Alleged takeover attempt by the "Free Town Project"

In February 2006, Mentone became the focus of a New York Times article detailing an alleged attempt by libertarians Lawrence Pendarvis, Bobby Emory and Don Duncan to "take over" the town and Loving County. According to the article, Pendarvis and his associates, part of the Free Town Project, planned to buy parcels of land in the county, then move in enough of their supporters to outvote earlier residents and take control of local government.[3]

According to a website for Mr. Pendarvis' movement, their objectives were to "remove oppressive Regulations...and stop enforcement of Laws prohibiting Victimless Acts among Consenting Adults, such as Dueling, Gambling, Incest, Price-Gouging, Cannibalism, and Drug Handling." Additionally, the group sought "to ensure that the Sheriff's Office or the Town Police are never allowed to waste valuable Town oppress our residents by the investigation or enforcement of violations of Laws that punish Truancy, Drug Trafficking, Prostitution, Obscenity, Organ Trafficking, BumFights, and other Victimless 'Crimes'."[4]

Although Pendarvis, Emory and Duncan claimed to have legally bought 126 acres (0.51 km2) in Loving County in 2005, and registered to vote accordingly, the county sheriff, Billy Burt Hopper, determined that this land had been sold to a different buyer. Misdemeanor charges were filed against the three men, who had left the state by this time. Pendarvis claimed to have a cancelled check to prove his purchase of the land in question, but no deed was ever produced, and the original landowners denied having sold land to Pendarvis or his associates. The three were subsequently featured on a "wanted" poster issued by Sheriff Hopper and the local Texas Rangers (displayed at Hopper's office), and threatened with arrest should they return to Loving County.

Although Mr. Pendarvis' website remains operative, his project does not seem to be active at this time, due to lack of funding and participation.


Mentone is served by the Wink-Loving Independent School District. Loving County's school system was closed and consolidated into Wink's ISD in 1972 because the enrollment had fallen to two pupils. The abandoned school building's gymnasium is still occasionally used for local events.


External links

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