About the Carmelite Monastery
The founding of Stanton and Martin County are directly linked to the western expansion of the railroads in bringing settlers into the vast open plains of West Texas. A small band of Carmelites were one of the earliest groups of people to settle and take advantage of the cheap land offered by the railroad.
In the summer and fall of 1882, six German friars from St. Boniface Monastery in Scipio, Kansas, under the leadership of Father Anastasius Peters, founded a new monastery at Grelton station, halfway between Fort Worth and El Paso on the Texas and Pacific Railroad.
They immediately changed the settlement's name to Marienfeld (German for Mary's Field; the name Marienfeld was later changed to Stanton in 1890 by popular vote.) in honor of their patron. The friars soon built a small frame monastery and church, dedicated respectively to the Most Pure Heart of Mary and St. Joseph. This was the first parish church between Fort Worth and El Paso.
The Carmelites were soon followed to West Texas by immigrant settlers, attracted by the friars' and railroads' offer of cheap land. Some of the first families at Marienfeld were relatives and friends of Father Anastasius Peters.
The Carmelites hoped to build a German Catholic Colony, the only one of its kind in West Texas. By 1886 the little German colony was thriving, but the terrible drought of 1886-1887 brought disaster to the community. Many families moved or faced starvation. The last parish priest, Carmelite Father Albert Wagner, left Stanton in 1901.
The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy had worked alongside the Carmelites since 1894 operating a day and boarding school for the community. The present monastery building and grounds were sold to the Sisters of Mercy in 1897, and the building was used as their living quarters and chapel. They went on to improve the property, creating a quadrangle facing Stanton.
The sisters operated Our Lady of Mercy Academy and nunnery for the next forty-four years. It was the school of choice for the farm and ranch families in the area and as far away as Oklahoma and New Mexico. The buildings were severely damaged by a tornado in 1938, and the decision was made to sell the property.
Today the only building standing is the original 1884 adobe monastery structure with its Gothic pointed windows. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Registered Texas Landmark. It has been described as one of the finest historic adobe buildings in the entire southwest United States.
For a more detailed history of the Carmelite Monastery in Stanton, visit the History section.