University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the William Ernest Thompson Papers, 1855-1972

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Thompson, W. Ernest
Title: Thompson, William Ernest, Papers
Dates: 1855-1972
Abstract: Correspondence, financial records, business records, land records, literary productions, maps, and printed materials comprise the William Ernest Thompson Papers, 1855-1972, and relate to Thompson’s business, personal, and literary activities as an author and real estate agent.
Accession No.: AR 71-053; 72-067; 73-114
OCLC No.: 743064857
Extent: 7 ft.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Real estate agent, land agent, and author William Ernest Thompson was born in Fairfield, Texas, on March 24, 1878. Raised in Hillsboro, Texas, he graduated from Southwestern University in 1898 and attended the University of Texas Law School. He married Betty Graham in 1908. Thompson worked as a real estate agent, land agent, salesman, and representative for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). He spent 12 years with the First Joint Stock Land Bank of Chicago, a subsidiary of the First National Bank of Chicago, and handled all Texas business.

From March 1938 to June 1939, Thompson worked as a Mortgage Conference Representative for the FHA. Responsible for all 37 counties of Southeast Texas, he held meetings explaining the functions of the FHA and how business owners could benefit from its operations. After leaving the FHA, he became the state production manager dealing with FHA mortgages for T. J. Bettes Co. However, two months later, he opened his own general real estate brokerage business in Houston. His firm, William E. Thompson Co., specialized in business properties, large farms, ranches, and mortgage loans for residential properties. He sat on the Houston Board of Realtors for more than 25 years and actively participated in the activities of his church, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.

As an author, Thompson published historical articles in newspapers and journals for over 50 years. He wrote a biography of Melvin A. Traylor, a Chicago banker originally from Hillsboro, for the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in October 1963. While in his nineties, he wrote and published two books, From the Grass Roots: A Land Man’s Story (1969) and Footnotes to History (1973). Additionally, Thompson belonged to the Texas State Historical Association, Sons of the Republic of Texas, and the American Heritage Society. Thompson died in 1978 in Houston at the age of 100.


“Thompson, W. Ernest.” Vertical Files. Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, financial records, business records, land records, literary productions, maps, and printed materials comprise the William Ernest Thompson Papers, 1855-1972, and relate to Thompson’s business, personal, and literary activities. The papers are organized into seven series: Business and Financial, Banking and Land, Classified Correspondence and Land Files, Personal Correspondence, General Correspondence, Literary Productions, Miscellaneous, and Scrapbook.

The first series composes the bulk of the papers and documents Thompson’s career as an independent real estate agent and mortgage broker as well as his time at the First Joint Stock Land Bank of Chicago and the Federal Housing Administration. The second series contains classified correspondence and land files, most from William E. Thompson Co. Personal Correspondence and General Correspondence include personal and miscellaneous correspondence, 1922-1970, a file on Laurel Heights Methodist Church, and social security information as well as his journal from a vacation to New Mexico in 1934. Manuscripts and correspondence compose the Literary Productions series, which relates to Thompson’s writing and includes material pertaining to From the Grassroots: a Land Man’s Story, Footnotes to History, Melvin A. Traylor, and Grass Roots Giant. The Miscellaneous series consists of printed materials, maps, and correspondence from the Sons of the Republic of Texas. The maps depict Buffalo Bayou (1942) and metropolitan Houston (1963). Finally, the scrapbook documents Thompson’s work with the Federal Housing Administration.


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Thompson, W. Ernest, 1878- -- Archives.
Traylor, Melvin Alvah, 1878-1934
Subjects (Organizations)
Federal Housing Administration
First National Bank of Chicago
Texas State Historical Association
Sons of the Republic of Texas
American Heritage Society
Real property -- Texas.
Business -- Texas.
Mortgages -- Texas.
Houston (Tex.)--History--Sources.
San Antonio (Tex.)
Dallas (Tex.)
Hillsboro (Tex.)
Chicago (Ill.)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William Ernest Thompson Papers, 1855-1972, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.

Detailed Description of the Papers



3F219 Business and financial banking and land
Abstract of title prepared by Eastland Title Guaranty Co., 1855-1928; Correspondence, 1900-1928; Daily memorandums, March 31-April, 1938
Miscellaneous Deeds of Title, 1904-1913.
Letters authorizing sale of land; two contracts of sale of land, 1918.
W. E. Thompson: Land Register, 1, 1918-1919.
W. E. Thompson: Farm Loan Record, 1, 1918-1926.
3F220 County Loan Records, undated.
Miscellaneous contracts of sale, 1921-1922.
3F221 Office expenses: correspondence, miscellaneous, 1923.
Operating statements of the First Trust Joint Stock Land Bank of Dallas, January 3, 1924-May 28, 1927.
Operating expenses for 1925; Letter to O. K. Dickinson, 1925.
First Trust Joint Stock and Land Bank: Register of Closed Loans, 1925-1927.
First Trust Joint Stock and Land Bank of Dallas: Loan Register, December 13, 1927-September 11, 1928.
3F222 Appraisal reports; 1934 letters; Report on work performance; Map of lot
Brochure; 1936 correspondence; notes; newspaper clippings
1952 operating expenses
Secretarial and general office expenses, June-December 1952.
Telephone expenses, 1952.
Automobile expenses, 1952.
Office rent, 1952.
Postage and miscellaneous expenses
Advertising expenses, 1952.
Operating expense ledger, 1952-1953.
Operating expenses and income tax instructions for 1953
Advertising for the year 1953
Brochures, 1969 letters, and reports for The Farm Mortgage Story
3F223 Pearson and Taft file, 1918-1923.
O.K. Dickinson file, 1918-1924.
Taft ranch file, land file, and Land Co., 1923-1925; correspondence, telegrams
O.K. Dickinson: First Trust Joint Stock and Land Bank of Dallas, 1923-1928.
O.K. Dickinson file, 1927.
3F224 Milam, Medina, and Willacy Counties, 1924-1928; Correspondence, brochures, reports, maps, newspaper clippings
Miscellaneous, 1920-1932; Daily Business Journal of W. H. Vaughn, 1930; 1931 correspondence
Miscellaneous religious, 1922; Travel expenses and accounts, January-July 1931; Newspaper clippings
Travel expenses and notes, 1932-1933; Travel expenses and report over a period in 1933
Letter in reference to Sulphur Tax Fight, 1931; Survey plat of "Gateway to the Southwest"; Miscellaneous financial, 1934-1935
First Trust Joint Stock and Land Bank of Dallas: rent list, 1934; List of farms supervised, 1934; Application for certification
First Trust Joint Stock and Land Bank of Chicago: Distribution of debit contingent loans, November 30, 1934, and December 31, 1934; Fieldmen's Expense for the year 1934
A Fieldman's Journal: W. R. Lang's Book, 1934; Letter in ref. to 1934 Cotton Acreage Reduction
Traveling expenses-Fieldman-1933 (Sales and farm operating); Miscellaneous: telegrams, contract, correspondence, 1934.
List of Texas Real Estate owned by Reserve Loan Life Insurance Co., 1934; Letters, 1935; Newspaper clippings
3F225 Miscellaneous Investor's files, 1900-1919.
Miscellaneous investor's files, 1919-1922.
Old farm mortgage file, 1919-1922.
Correspondence showing financial condition of mortgage men in years 1919-1922
Investing Land Bank correspondence, 1923-1927.
First Trust Joint Stock and Land Bank of Dallas, 1922-1923.
3F226 Classified correspondence including land files and miscellaneous land files
Three Rivers File, 1920.
Land File No. 117 through Land File No. 1532, April 1936-March 1955.
3F227 Land Files No. 1533 through Land Files No. 1580, January 1947-October 1957.
Texas Land Title Association, 1965-1969.
3F228 Land Files No. 1581 through Land Files No. 1906 (incomplete), 1934-1959.
Miscellaneous Land Files, 1931-1933.
Land Company of Texas and a partial list of sales made by W. E. T. during his Houston career
3F229 Personal correspondence
Memorabilia from 1928 vacation
Journal of vacation trip to Carlsbad Caverns and other New Mexico places, on vacation taken in August-September, 1934.
Correspondence, 1937-1955.
Personal social security and Income tax material, 1951-1954.
Miscellaneous correspondence: "very Personal Letters", 1952-1953.
Miscellaneous, 1953-1955.
Personal, 1956.
Personal, 1957.
Miscellaneous personal, 1960-1961.
Personal, 1966.
3F230 General correspondence
Laurel Heights Methodist Church File, 1922-1930.
Correspondence, 1927-1970.
Miscellaneous, 1924; Federal House Administration correspondence, 1936.
Social Security pamphlets, 1951.
Miscellaneous correspondence, 1952-1953.
Miscellaneous correspondence, 1960.
3F231 Literary productions
Miscellaneous: clippings, brochures, 1927-1969.
Miscellaneous: clippings, letter to Richard M. Nixon (1971), 1937-1971.
Issues of Texas Bar Journal, 1966-1972.
Footnotes to History: Attorney General of Texas research files: correspondence, vital statistics, miscellaneous, 1934-1969.
3F232 Essays on varied themes by W. E. Thompson; Miscellaneous literary productions, 1937-1956.
"A Few of my own Poems," undated.
Land Mortgage file, miscellaneous correspondence, pages of typescript, 1960-1969.
Miscellaneous: verses by W. E. T., correspondence, 1964-1967.
Texas Handbook: Melvin A. Taylor's Story, letters, 1965.
Texas Handbook: Daniel Upthegrove sketch, letter, 1965.
Texas Handbook: John E. Green, Jr., draft, correspondence, 1965.
Handbook of Texas: Correspondence, miscellaneous, 1965-1966.
From the Grassroots: A Land Man's Story, by W. E. T., correspondence, brochure, 1965-1969.
Speeches, essays, copies of two letters, 1969-1970.
Texas Portraits: Judge Alexander White, miscellaneous, correspondence, 1970-1971.
"Saga of Torpedo 8", The Story of George H. Gay of Houston, from Footnotes to History, copy of photograph from newspaper
3F233 Melvin A. Taylor's files: 1878-1934 reprint from Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Clippings, legal documents, pictures, 1906-1934.
Correspondence, 1931-1932.
"Helpful letters," 1931-1965.
Correspondence, 1961-1963.
Grass Roots Giant, first draft
Correspondence, 1964-1968, and undated.
Source Material Western Gulf Association and Caddie Scholarship Fund
Grass Roots Giant, original
Grass Roots Giant, copy
Grass Roots Giant, letters, miscellaneous, 1967.
3F237 Miscellaneous
1880 pamphlet on Prohibition; 1888 map of Texas; Notes: A Duke's Mixture; Copy of correspondence, 1920-1935; Copies of newspaper clippings; Bulletins; Certificate of Appreciation of W. E. Thompson form Southwestern University, 1971; Two issues of Farm Magazine, 1932, 1934; Pages and copies of pages of Farm Magazine, 1936
Pamphlet, 1874; Pamphlet, 1878; Miscellaneous; Interview San Antonio Express, 1933; Miscellaneous correspondence, 1924-1935
Notes; Copies and clippings of newspaper, 1924-1971; Magazine; Brochures; Correspondence, 1960-1971
Letters, 1961-1972; Miscellaneous
Sons of the Republic of Texas: copies of letters dated 1888; Pamphlets; Correspondence; Newsletter; Miscellaneous, 1957-1972
Industrial map of Metropolitan Houston, 1963.
Two maps of Buffalo Bayou, Texas, 1942, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, Addicks Reservoir; One large map of plots in the Houston area
Map from the Texas State Bureau of Immigration, undated; Miscellaneous publications, 1934-1970.
Various numbers of Vol. XXIII of Commerce and Finance magazine, 1934.
4M608 Newspaper clippings-scrapbook
Newspaper reports of W. E. Thompson's work with the Federal House Administration from March 1938 to midsummer of 1939, his title: Mortgage Conference Representative. His duties: to hold meetings in all 37 counties and explain the functions of the F. H. A., and how the contractors benefit by its operations