Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Historical Note

Scope and Contents

Organization

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Note to the Researcher

Description of Series

Series I. Association Records, 1963-1992.

Series II. Thurber, Texas, 1888-1991.

University of Texas Arlington

Thurber Historical Association Records:

A Guide



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Thurber Historical Association.
Title: Thurber Historical Association Records
Inclusive Dates: 1888-1992
Abstract: The Thurber Historical Association is an organization wholly devoted to the restoration, preservation and promotion of the history of Thurber, Texas. Made up primarily of former residents of Thurber and their descendants, the Thurber Historical Association holds annual reunions and actively works to raise awareness of the unique history of Thurber, Texas, and its impact on the history of the United States. Correspondence; administrative records; biographical information; proposals for a museum, a state park, and inclusion in Texas education programs; and personal memoirs. The bulk of the collection pertains to the various attempts of the Thurber Historical Association to preserve and promote the town's history.
Identification: AR399
Extent: 2 boxes and 1 folder (0.63 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library

Historical Note

The Thurber Historical Association traces its origins to the loosely organized, informal reunions of Thurber residents and their descendants in the late 1920's. The Thurber Historical Association was officially incorporated on February 27, 1969. The majority of its members continue to be descendants of the coal miners who worked the Thurber mines from the late 1880's until the mid-1920's.

The agenda of the Thurber Historical Association has grown to include much more than reunions, which it still holds on an annual basis. The Thurber Historical Association actively endeavors to restore, preserve, and promote the history of Thurber, Texas, and the role the history of this once prosperous Texas boomtown plays in the overall history of the United States. Two of its most active members are Ruby Schmidt, historian and genealogist and the source of these records, and Dr. Leo Bielinski, who has spent many hours writing and preserving local history.

Once a major bituminous coal producing town in Texas, Thurber grew to be a thriving boomtown between 1918-1921. The largely migratory population of this town has been estimated at 10,000 at the height of Thurber's coal production in 1920-21. Coal was first discovered in Thurber, Texas, by William Whipple Johnson in the mid-1800's. Johnson experienced many labor difficulties with the widely diverse ethnic groups that worked the mines and the ever present unions attempting to organize them, and it was only after the mining operation was sold to the Texas & Pacific Coal Company in 1888, with the anti-union stance of its president Robert Dickey Hunter, that Thurber would reach its prominence as a bituminous coal producer. The boomtown of Thurber would be a wholly owned company town until the union finally organized the miners in 1903 after lengthy negotiations with W. K. Gordon, Sr., who was the manager of the operation in Thurber for the Texas & Pacific Coal Company at that time.

The history of Thurber, Texas, is more than a look at the tumultuous coal market of the early twentieth century, it is also a case study in the labor practices of the Texas & Pacific Coal Company and the practices of the labor unions that struggled for power in this small central Texas town. The growth of Thurber, and its lightening quick demise after the discovery of oil in nearby Ranger, Texas, have left a rich legacy of Texas history whose preservation and promotion is the primary focus of the Thurber Historical Association

Sources:

The New Handbook of Texas. Volume 6. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996. pp. 488-489.

Schmidt, Ruby. Interview by Sandi Ramos, 26 September 1997.

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Scope and Contents

Series I consists of a few administrative records of the Thurber Historical Association and brief biographies of Ruby Schmidt and Leo Bielinski. This series also includes correspondence written and received by Ruby Schmidt, which reflects the efforts of the Thurber Historical Association to chronicle and publicize the history of Thurber, Texas, and photocopies of photographs depicting Thurber, Texas, at the height of its prosperity. Personal memoirs make up two folders in this series and provide a unique look into Thurber life at the turn of the twentieth century.

Series II consists of articles and newspaper clippings relating to the unique history of Thurber, Texas, as well as numerous artifacts collected by the Thurber Historical Association from the days of Thurber's prominence as a coal mining operation. A partial copy of the 1910 census is included which lists the citizens of Thurber, Texas, at that time. This series also includes the minutes of a meeting of the stockholders of the Texas & Pacific Coal Company dated 1888. The minutes reflect the economic and labor related issues the stockholders faced.

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Organization

The records are organized in two series:
Series I. Association Records, 1963-1992. 0.3125 linear ft. (16 folders)
Series II. Thurber, Texas, 1888-1991. 0.413 linear ft. (12 folders, one oversize folder)

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Restrictions

Access

Open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, or use by any and all other current or future developed methods or procedures must be obtained in writing from Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards.

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Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Organizations
Thurber Historical Association--Archives
Places
Thurber (Tex.)--History
Alternate Titles
Historical Manuscripts Collection

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Related Material

AR401: W.K. Gordon Sr. Papers, 1890-1995

AR421: W. K. Gordon, Sr., Papers, 1888-1986

OH41: Oral history interview with Lawrence Santi (1974)

OH63: Oral history interview with Eddie Webb and Nelle Wooding (1981)

Researchers should be aware of the extensive amount of material pertaining to the history of Thurber and the oil industry in Texas available in the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. The Nita Haley Memorial Library in Midland, Texas, is also a point of interest to the researcher interested in the history of Thurber, Texas. There are also a number of photographs of Thurber, Texas, at the Tarleton State University Library.

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Administrative Information

Provenance

The materials included in the Thurber Historical Association Records were in the possession of Ruby Schmidt until they were officially deeded to The University of Texas at Arlington.

Citation

Thurber Historical Association Records, AR399, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library.

Acquisition

Gift, August 2, 1993.

Accessioned as number 93-40.

The donation was negotiated by Jane Boley, Special Collections archivist, and accessioned by Sandi Ramos. The collection was acknowledged by Dr. Gerald D. Saxon.

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 Note to the Researcher 

One of the most interesting aspects of Thurber history is its quick demise brought on by the discovery of oil in nearby Ranger, Texas. The role the discovery of oil at the McCleskey farm in Ranger on October 17, 1921, had in the sudden death of what was then the thriving boomtown of Thurber should not be overlooked.

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Container List

 

Series I. Association Records, 1963-1992.
Extent 0.3125 linear ft. (16 folders)

Arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically. Material includes some administrative records; biographical information; correspondence and documentation relating to the efforts of the Thurber Historical Association to preserve and promote the history of Thurber, Texas; photocopies of photographs depicting Thurber, Texas, around the turn of the twentieth century; and written memoirs of residents of Thurber, Texas, at the height of its mining operations.
Box Folder
1 1 Administrative Records, 1963-1990, undated
Includes a 1985 Treasurer's Report, numerous brochures concerning Thurber reunions dating from 1963 to 1990, and the by-laws of the Thurber Historical Association.
2 Acquisition of Thurber Land, 1988-1989
Correspondence and financial background regarding the attempted acquisition of land in Thurber, Texas, by the Thurber Historical Association.
3 Andreato Family Photographs, 1897-1920.
Original photographs donated to Ruby Schmidt by the Andreato family that depict life in Thurber.
4 Bielinski, Leo, undated
Biographical information.
5 Correspondence, 1987-1990.
Correspondence written by Ruby Schmidt concerning various activities of the Thurber Historical Association.
6 Correspondence, 1988-1990.
Correspondence received by Ruby Schmidt concerning various activities of the Thurber Historical Association.
7 Correspondence, 1987-1992.
Miscellaneous correspondence concerning the activities of the Thurber Historical Association.
8 Photograph Inventory, 1886-1936.
Inventory of photographs used in the creation of the documentary, "Thurber Texas: Boom Town to Ghost Town, 1886-1936."
9 Schmidt, Ruby, 1987, undated
Photocopy of newspaper clipping focusing on the life of Ruby Schmidt and her historical research and a one-page typed biography.
10 St. Barbara's Catholic Church, 1987-1990.
A history of St. Rita's Parish and correspondence concerning the efforts of the Thurber Historical Association to move St. Barbara's to its original location.
11 Texas Education, 1989-1990.
Articles and correspondence regarding the inclusion of a history of Thurber in Texas education textbooks.
12 Thurber Cemetery, 1897-1988.
Photocopies of internment records for the Thurber Cemetery dating back to 1897. Also includes articles and correspondence regarding the efforts of the Thurber Historical Association to identify unmarked graves.
13 Thurber Museum, undated
Proposal for a museum in Thurber to commemorate the unique history of the town.
14 Thurber Remembrances, 1969, undated
A collection of personalized accounts of Thurber life in its heyday from the 1880's to 1920. (Note, the last memoir in this folder, thirty-seven pages in length, is not in order from beginning to finish. There appear to be pages missing from this memoir. Pages have been placed in order when possible.)
15 Thurber Remembrances, 1988, undated.
A collection of personalized accounts of Thurber life in its heyday from the 1880's to 1920.
16 Thurber State Park, undated
Information regarding the creation of a state park in Thurber, Texas.

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Series II. Thurber, Texas, 1888-1991.
Extent 0.413 linear ft. (12 folders, one oversize folder)

Arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically. Material includes articles and newspaper clippings relating to Thurber, Texas; a partial 1910 census; maps depicting Thurber, Texas; minutes of a meeting of the stockholders of the Texas & Pacific Coal Company; and numerous artifacts from Thurber, Texas, at the time of its prominence.
Box Folder
1 17 Articles, 1890-1990, undated
Articles concerning Thurber, Texas, that appeared in various publications.
18 Census, 1910.
Photocopy of a portion of the 1910 census referring to the Thurber, Texas, region.
Box Folder
2 1 Company Store Card, approximately 1910.
A Texas & Pacific Coal Company Store Card issued to S. G. Bridges.
2 First Mortgage Six Per Cent Gold Bond, approximately 1910.
Photocopy of a Texas & Pacific Coal Company gold bond. Original at the Nita Haley Memorial Library.
3 Franks, Mary Auda, 1916.
A sample of Franks' schoolwork while attending Thurber schools.
4 Franks, Mary Auda, 1916.
A sample of Franks' schoolwork while attending Thurber schools.
5 New York Hill Restaurant, undated
A menu from the New York Hill Restaurant located in Thurber, Texas, which includes a brief history of the town.
6 Newspaper Clippings, 1896-1991.
Photocopies of newspaper clippings, from various sources, relating to Thurber, Texas.
7 Other Texas Towns, 1909-1991.
Articles and correspondence reflecting an interest in other Texas communities with histories which are similar to or related to Thurber, Texas. Some of these include Strawn, Mingus, Gordon, and Ranger.
8 Photographs, approximately 1900.
Photocopies of photographs depicting Thurber, Texas, and nearby Ranger, Texas, around the turn of the twentieth century. Partial inventory included.
9 Stockholder Meeting, 1888.
Photocopy of the minutes of a meeting of the stockholders of the Texas & Pacific Coal Company.
10 Thurber Maps, 1920.
Photocopies of various maps depicting Thurber, Texas.
Box
OS147 Journal. United Mine Workers Journal, Vol. XVIII., No. 97. January 25, 1908.

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