TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Guide to the Ada Dodgen Family Papers, 1892-1918, 1924
Born in 1878, Ada E. Dodgen was the daughter of a modest working class family established in Central Texas. She had at least two sisters, Polly and Sue, and one brother, D.L. Other family members include her uncle, M.G. Dodgen, and her cousin, Charley V. Dodgen.
It was around 1894 when she started a romantic relationship with Willy H. Thomas, from Clifton, Texas. They got married sometime around 1901. During the courtship period, Ada was working as a schoolteacher in Walnut Springs. Willy moved around the state trying to find his way in the face of the growing commercialization of ranches and farms. He worked as a day laborer in Clifton, Chase and Thurber. In 1898, Willy moved to Minco, Indian Territory, looking for better work opportunities. There, he stayed with his aunt and worked in the cattle industry. He may have also enrolled in the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American war.
After their marriage, they settled in Meridian, Texas, and had 3 children, Gladys, Hattie and Hugh.
"United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M2MY-VVG : accessed 07 May 2014), Ada E Thomas in household of William H Thomas, Meridian, Bosque, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 1, sheet 3A, family 51, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1375546.
Consisting of correspondence, photographs and some funeral notices, the Ada Dodgen Family Papers, 1892-1918, 1924, chronicle the life of a modest family in late 19th century Central Texas.
The letters, written primarily between Ada E. Dodgen and Willy H. Thomas, represent the times. Ada writes of teaching in the school, attending Methodist camp meetings and performing in singing groups, quilting with her friends, illnesses, and other family news. Willy reports on the hardscrabble life he is seeking out as a day laborer in the cotton industry or working on the cattle ranches in Indian Territory. Local incidents, such as murders, railroad robberies and city fires, are also documented.
The family photographs, most of them prior to 1900, include card photographs, gem photographs (tintypes) and photographic postcards. Although most of the pictures depict unidentified individual and group portraits, one of the photos is dated in Havana 1901.
This collection is open for research use.
Dodgen (Ada) Family Papers, 1892-1918, 1924, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Paloma Graciani Picardo, May 2014.