As you drive into town, a large sign proclaims: “Welcome to Stanton, Home of 3,000 Friendly People and a Few Old Soreheads.” The town makes good on the friendly part of its catchy slogan three times a year during Old Sorehead Trade Days. Downtown’s historical park hosts the arts and crafts festival which attracts hundreds of vendors and thousands of buyers. Heritage tourists know Stanton as a wellspring of Catholicism in West Texas. In 1882, Carmelite friars established a Catholic farming colony at a Texas and Pacific Railroad stop they called Marienfeld (Field of Mary). Settlers built the first Catholic Church in West Texas, along with the region’s first school, housed in a two-story adobe monastery that still stands. Much of the Catholic colony disbanded after back-to-back drought years. Protestant farmers replaced them and renamed the Martin County seat Stanton, which became a cattle shipping center. The Martin County Historical Museum chronicles the town’s religious origins and its later development. Other heritage sites include the town’s first structure, the Connell House, built in 1882 for Catholic priests, and the 1908 county jail, built of native stone.