Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company Financial Records:
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.
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).
Open for research.
Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company Financial Records, AR386, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.
Gift, Mr. Janis Mills, 1995. Accessioned as number 95-44.
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.
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.