A Guide to the Willim Ernest Thompson Papers, 1855-1972
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.
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.
The collection is open for research use.
William Ernest Thompson Papers, 1855-1972, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
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