TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the newspaper articles about former Land Commissioner Jerry Sadler, 1969-1990
Gerald Anthony Sadler was born in Kirbyville, Texas on September 8, 1907. At the age of 30, he became the youngest Railroad Commissioner in the history of that agency. He felt that big business and oil companies were taking advantage of the common man in Texas. With oil as the lifeblood for Texas during the depression, Sadler felt that the wealth should belong to the people of Texas, rather than “the fat cats of Wall Street.” Fifteen months into his term, he made a run for the Governor’s Office against Governor O’Daniel.
He stayed at the Railroad Commission until 1942. Despite being exempt from entering the armed forces, he resigned from the Railroad Commission in order to enlist in the Army as a private, despite being eligible to be commissioned an officer. He served during World War II in Iran as a supervising officer for supply lines to the Soviet Union. After the war, Sadler was commissioned as a Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1946, he ran for Governor once again, placing fourth in a crowded field. He then moved his attention to the House of Representatives. Sadler is best remembered, however, for his decade at the Land Office. He won the 1960 election, and assumed the role of Land Commissioner on January 3, 1961. There was no celebration on his first day; rather, he felt that his first day was just another day for the agency and no special commemoration was necessary. Among GLO employees, he is probably best remembered for requiring lower hemlines and higher sideburns, and outlawing coffee breaks away from the desk. He felt that the personal appearance of the younger workforce was “a sign of moral decay” and the coffee breaks were costing taxpayers a fortune.
He marketed the GLO as being “the biggest real estate agency in the world,” controlling over 22 million acres of land and mineral resources. He more than doubled the size of the Permanent School Fund, raising an additional $517 million, and increased the royalties on mineral lands from one-eighth to one-sixth. Over the first thirty years of the existence of the VLB, Sadler was responsible for over 35% of all land loans made by veterans.
Just like his predecessor, however, he was focused on issues relating to the Texas Coast and submerged lands. Early on in his administration the Coastal Division was created. In 1963, he became the first commissioner to employ aerial photography to aid employees in surveying the Texas Coast. The biggest controversy of Sadler’s administration dealt with his handling of a 400-year-old Spanish treasure from a 1554 shipwreck off the Padre Island seashore. Sadler’s handling of this treasure earned him the nickname “Jerry the Pirate” from some State Legislators, because of his actions; including punching a reporter and attacking a senator who were questioning his authority in the matter. Sadler claimed “These sunken ships and their cargo” for the Permanent School Fund because they were found within the newly established 10.36 mile-boundary off the Texas Coast.
He lost the race for land commissioner in 1971 and retired to his five-acre ranch near Slocum. He ran for Railroad Commissioner in 1976 and 1978, losing both elections. Then in 1981, he ran for Land Commissioner again. Sadler passed away of natural causes before the election could take place.
Taken directly from History of the Land Commissioners, General Land Office Website.
The collections is solely made up of newspaper articles from various Texas newspapers documenting the last years of Jerry Sadler's tenure as Land Commissioner. The articles both criticize and alternately celebrate the eccentric Commissioner’s exploits and controversies including the events surrounding the recovery of the 1554 sunken Spanish galleon. Following his term as land commissioner there is a gap in the clippings until his death in 1982 when articles eulogizing Sadler were written.
The collection of articles contains originals and photocopies.
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Sadler (Jerry) newspaper articles (SJ.NP). Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.