University of Texas Arlington

Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company Financial Records:

A Guide



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.
Title: Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company Financial Records
Dates: 1894-1963
Abstract: The Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company began coal mining operations in Thurber, Texas in 1888. The town soon became a company-dominated community ruled by company president, Robert Dickey Hunter. In 1903, local miners were organized by the United Mine Workers. Local unions also organized for brick makers, carpenters, clerks, meat cutters, and bartenders, thus Thurber gained recognition as the only 100 percent closed-shop community in the nation. The discovery of the nearby Ranger oilfield in 1917 prompted the change of the company name to Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company as railroad locomotives began a shift away from coal toward oil. The declining use of coal led to Thurber's demise. The company operated the brick plant until 1930, a general office until 1933, and commissary stores until 1935. By the late 1930s, Thurber had become a ghost town. The company moved to Fort Worth and was acquired by Seagram and Sons in 1963. This collection contains financial records for the company from 1894 to 1963. There are also financial documents from 1899 to 1901 for the Texas Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company which managed all of the company-owned enterprises in Thurber. Other subsidiaries which appear in the financial records are: Homestake Exploration (1924-1926), Thurber Pipe Line Company (1925-1946), Thurber Tank Line Company (1929-1932), and Comet Oil Company (1933-1934).
Identification: AR386
Extent: 6 boxes (1.83 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library

Historical Note

The story of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company cannot be written apart from the history of Thurber, Texas, because Thurber was wholly owned by the company. Begun in the 1880s as the Johnson Coal Company, on October 4, 1888, the company was sold to investors who formed the Texas and Pacific Coal Company. Company president, Colonel R.D. Hunter, named the town after the company's cofounder, H.K. Thurber of New York. At that time, the coal miners, spurred on by the Knights of Labor, were on strike for non-payment of wages. Colonel R.D. Hunter, company president, ousted the union agitators and dropped the rate paid for coal mining from $1.95 a ton to $1.40. The miners remained out on strike. After several threats were made against Hunter's life and several local buildings were attacked, the Texas Rangers were called in to restore order. The strike finally ended when the striking miners were replaced by laborers mostly recruited from abroad, and the Knights of Labor withdrew its support of the strike.

Everything in Thurber was owned and controlled by the Texas and Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company, a Texas and Pacific Coal Company subsidiary established to manage all of the company-owned enterprises in Thurber. The miners were paid in cash twice a month, and the company issued scrip to those who needed credit. The workers were required to live in Thurber (in company-owned frame houses) and to spend their money in the shops there. The company even erected a four-strand wire fence around the 900 acres surrounding Thurber.

Labor problems at the mines flared up again in 1894, and once more the Texas Rangers were called in to keep the peace. But labor unrest continued. Finally, on Labor Day in 1903, the United Mine Workers lured about sixty of the miners to the town of Lyra eight miles away. The miners joined the union there and then returned to Thurber, where they were able to sign up the majority of their fellow workers. After a brief strike and the departure of about 1,000 miners, the company capitulated. The miners were permitted to join the United Mine Workers Union, wages were increased 35 percent, and the workday was reduced to eight hours. So successful was the revolt of the miners that six other labor union organizations were established. Thurber became the only town in the United States in which 100 percent of the workers were union members.

Peace on the labor scene prevailed for many years after 1903, but changes were taking place that would eventually destroy the town. Thurber's entire economy had originally been based on the railroads' need for coal, but as the railroads converted from coal to oil to fuel their engines, the market for coal withered away. That situation coupled with the demands of the union for higher wages made the mines a better source of revenue for the company, which then turned its full attention to oil exploration. In fact, the company later became known as the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

In 1923, the coal mines were shut down. By 1930 the oil boom in Ranger was over, and the depression had forced the closing of the brick-making plant. Three years later the Texas and Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company was liquidated, and the general offices of the parent company, whose activities were now totally directed to the oil and gas industry, were moved to Fort Worth. During the latter part of the 1930s the entire town was literally sold and carted away: houses were dismantled or moved intact, school buildings and their equipment were sold, water and gas pipelines were removed and sold for salvage, mine equipment was disposed of, and even the Catholic Church and the priest's home were moved to a community nearby.

During the late thirties the company began to divest itself of its refining and marketing facilities, and by December, 1945, the last marketing properties were sold. In 1963, after a proxy fight, Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, Inc. acquired the company for $277 million. The Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company was then merged with a small oil producing company owned by Seagrams, the Frankfort Oil Company. The new firm was named the Texas Pacific Oil Company. The Fort Worth office closed immediately and the operation transferred to Dallas. In April 1980, Seagrams sold the Texas Pacific Oil Company to the Sun Oil Company for $2.3 billion.

Sources:

  • Powers, William P. "The Subversion of 'Gordon's Kingdom': The Unionization of the Texas and Pacific Coal Mines at Thurber, Texas, 1888-1903." (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Arlington, 1989).
  • The Story of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, 1888-1955. Fort Worth, Texas: Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, [1955].
  • Studdard, George B. Life of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company. Fort Worth, Texas: TP Products, ca. 1992.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 5 manuscript boxes of financial records for the Texas and Pacific Coal Company, later known as the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

Types of financial records (from earliest to latest) include: Revenue Account (1894), Statement of Earnings and Expenses (1897-1899), Comparative General Balance Sheet (1899-1915), General Statement/Consolidated Statement (1916-1948), Balance Sheet (1945), Financial and Profit and Loss Statement (1949-1950), Ledgers (1956-1963). Miscellaneous financial records include: Comparative Costs Mine Operation Expenses (1911), Joint Accounts (1919-1923), and Oil and Gas Accounts Statement (1918-1923).

The records for the Texas and Pacific Coal Company cover the years 1894 and 1897-1917. After 1917, the company was known as the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company. Its financial records extend from 1918-1963. As early as 1916, however, the General Statement lists oil and gas operating expenses as well as mine operating expenses, reflecting the beginning of the shift from coal to oil production. The records cease in 1963, which was the year the company was acquired by Seagram and Sons.

There are also financial documents for the years 1899, 1900, and 1901 for the Texas Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company, which managed all of the company-owned enterprises in Thurber. Other subsidiaries which appear in the financial records are: Homestake Exploration (1924-1926), Thurber Pipe Line Company (1925-1946), Thurber Tank Line Company (1929-1932), and Comet Oil Company (1933-1934).


Organization

Records consist of 24 folders in 5 manuscript boxes and 4 folders in an oversized box, all arranged in chronological order.

Restrictions

Access

Open for research.


Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Organizations
Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company--Records and correspondence.
Texas Pacific Oil Company--Records and correspondence.
Texas Pacific Coal Company--Records and correspondence.
Comet Oil Company--Records and correspondence.
Homestake Exploration Company--Records and correspondence.
Subjects
Coal mines and mining--Texas--Thurber--History--Sources.
Business enterprises--Texas--Thurber--History--Sources.
Oil industries--Texas--History--Sources.
Coal mines--Labor unions--Texas--Thurber--History--Sources.
Ghost towns--Texas--History--Sources.
Places
Thurber (Tex.)--History--Sources.
Alternate Titles
Texas Labor Archives

Related Material

AR88: Thurber, Texas Photograph Collection

AR160: Thurber, Texas History Collection, 1894-1983

AR399: Thurber Historical Association Records

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)


Administrative Information

Citation

Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company Financial Records, AR386, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.

Acquisition

Gift, Mr. Janis Mills, 1995. Accessioned as number 95-44.

Provenance

The Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company Financial Records were donated to the Special Collections Division of The University of Texas at Arlington Library on September 12, 1995, by Mrs. Janis Mills, owner of the New York Hill Restaurant, Mingus, Texas. Mrs. Mills discovered these records in an antique chest which she had purchased.


Administrative Information

Grant Support

The retrospective updating and conversion of this finding aid was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Special Collections "Documenting Democracy: Access to Historical Records" project, 2014-2015.


Container List

Box Folder
1 1 Financial Records, 1894, 1897, 1898
2 Financial Records, 1899
3 Financial Records, 1900-1904
4 Financial Records, 1905-1915
5 Financial Records, 1916-1918
6 Financial Records, 1919-1920
Box Folder
2 1 Financial Records, 1921-1922
2 Oil and Gas Statements, 1920-1923
3 Financial Records, 1923-1926
4 Financial Records, 1927-1930
5 Financial Records, 1931-1934
6 Financial Records, 1935-1936
Box Folder
3 1 Financial Records, 1937-1939
2 Financial Records, 1940-1944
3 Financial Records, 1945-1948
4 Financial Records, 1949-1950
5 Financial Records, 1956
Box Folder
4 1 Financial Records, 1957
2 Financial Records, 1958
3 Financial Records, 1959
4 Financial Records, 1960
5 Financial Records, 1961
Box Folder
5 1 Financial Records, January-November 1962
2 Financial Records, January-July 1963
Box Folder
OS370 (4 unnumbered folders) Oil and Gas Statements, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924