University of Texas San Antonio

A Guide to the Mayer H. Halff Papers, 1901-2004

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Halff, Mayer H., 1905-1996.
Title: Mayer H. Halff Papers
Dates: 1901-2004
Creator Abstract: Mayer H. Halff was a twentieth century Texas military officer and businessman.
Content Abstract: Collection spans the years 1904 through 2004 and includes correspondence, photographs, memoirs, newspaper clippings, negatives, financial documents, legal documents, yearbooks, newsletters, certificates, and publications that document the life and work of a twentieth century military officer and businessman.
Identification: MS 146
Extent: 5 linear feet
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections

Biographical Note

Mayer Henry Halff, known as "Hal" to family and friends, was born in San Antonio, Texas on December 12, 1905 to Henry Mayer Halff and Rosa Wechsler, and had three siblings: Ernestine, Ray Elizabeth, and Albert. Halff attended high school at West Texas Military Academy (now known as TMI) in San Antonio. He went on to graduate from New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico and was the youngest cadet at that time to do so. After two years at the University of Texas at Austin between 1922 and 1924, Halff was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1928 as a 2nd Lt. of cavalry. Halff married Maureene Poole August 5, 1933 and with her had two children, Evelyn Julia and Henry Richard. After 34 years of marriage, Halff and Maureene were divorced. Halff then married his second wife, Winifred Joanna Van Keulen Jogl, on February 28, 1969.

Halff's first military assignment was at Ft. Bliss, Texas with the 7th Cavalry. He was involved in several of the last cavalry marches along the U.S. border to keep Pancho Villa on the Mexican side. In 1933, Halff was assigned to the Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona, first as an officer, and then as a civilian. He was called back to active duty in 1941 and assigned to David-Monthan Air Base in Tucson, Arizona. Shortly thereafter, he was transferred to Army General Staff in Washington, DC, where he was involved in the acquisition of real estate for the expanding military. One of the purchases he made was an airport near Washington that would later house the Pentagon. In 1942, Halff was asked to return to West Point as an instructor, where he taught mechanics and chemistry until 1945. As a Lt. Colonel, Halff attended General Staff Class at Ft. Leavenworth, KS and after graduation was assigned to General MacArthur's staff in the Philippines and Japan.

After leaving the military, Halff settled in Dallas, Texas, where he became involved in the oil business, real estate, and property management. In 1976, he retired to the Lakeway community in Austin, Texas, remaining active in business, traveling, and playing golf. With the death of his wife, Winifred, in 1989, Halff married his third wife, Ione (Sissy) Edna Bishop. He died in 1996.

Scope and Content Note

The collection spans the years 1904 through 2004 and includes correspondence, photographs, memoirs, newspaper clippings, negatives, financial documents, legal documents, yearbooks, newsletters, certificates, and publications that document the life and work of a twentieth century military officer and businessman. Most of the papers are dated between 1989 and 1996, with a bible and a photograph from 1901 and 1906, some education documents dated in the 1920s, and some military documents from the 1940s. The papers are arranged into two series: Mayer H. Halff and Halff Family and Friends.

The Mayer H. Halff series consists of items pertaining to Halff, his military and social life, and two of his wives. It is divided into six subseries: Biographical, Celebrations/Vacations, Clubs and Organizations, Military, Winifred, and Ione (Sissy).

The Halff Family and Friends series consists of items pertaining to Halff's family and friends. It contains correspondence, photographic materials, and a Halff family tree placing Halff and his immediate family in relation to the larger Halff family of Texas. There are also a number of documents relating to the commercial enterprise of the Halff family, Halff Interests. They invested in real estate, oil, and ranching, as well as other business ventures.


Access Restrictions

This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.

Usage Restrictions

Please contact University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections for information about permission to publish material from the collection.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Halff, Mayer H., 1905-1996.
Halff family.
Halff Interests.
Businessmen--Texas--San Antonio.
Businessmen--Texas--History--20th century.
Armed Forces--Officers--Texas.
San Antonio (Tex.)--History--20th century.
San Antonio (Tex.)--Social life and customs--20th century.
Financial records.
Legal documents.
Local Subjects
San Antonio History

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Mayer H. Halff Papers, MS 146, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Acquisition Information

Received as a gift from Ione Bishop Halff, 2006 (Acc. 2006-037).

Processing Information

Processed by Mathew C. Martin, Collections Assistant, October 2006.

Note to Researchers

A book on Upton County Texas, On the Last Frontier: A History of Upton County, Texas, contains information about the Halff family and is also located at University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Mayer H. Halff

This series consists of items pertaining to Halff, his military and social life, and two of his wives (Winifred and Ione (Sissy)).
Series is divided into six subseries: Biographical, Celebrations/Vacations, Clubs and Organizations, Military, Winifred, and Ione (Sissy).
This subseries contains correspondence, writings, financial and legal documents (including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and estate planning documents), marriage certificates and a wedding film, mementos, and photographic material. Of particular interest is his memoirs, which he wrote in 1987. Files contain his research notes, various revisions and edits, and two copies of the finished memoir. The memoir chronicles over 80 years of Halff's life including his military career and his involvement in the oil business and ranching. The memoir also gives some information about the Halff family, which was one of the largest ranching families in Texas.
Box Folder
1 1 Admission Tickets to U.S. House and Senate, 1987-1988
2 Autopsy documents, 1996
3 Baby cup (silver), 1905
4 Baby hair, circa 1906]
5 Birth certificate, 1942
6 Commission for Admiral in the Texas Navy, 1993
Box Folder
1 7 Family, 1906, 1990-1996, and undated
8 Friends, 1991-1996
9 Organizations, 1995
10 Political, 1940, 1995-1996
11 Donation certificate for the Halff Greenbelt-Spring Creek Forest Preserve in memory of Maureene Halff, to the city of Garland, Texas, 1991
12 Estate planning documents, 1994-1995
Box Folder
1 13 General Material, 1988-1995 and undated
14 Planning notes on actions after Hal's death, 1996
Box Folder
1 15 Contract and receipts, 1996
16 Memorial tributes book, August 5, 1996
17 Photographic materials, 1996
18 Program for srvice and text of remarks, August 5, 1996
19 Sympathy messages, 1996
20 Identification and membership cards, 1942-1993 and undated
Marriage to Ione (Sissy)
Box Folder
1 21 Prenuptial agreement, 1989
22 Wedding book, 1989
23 Wedding photographs, 1989
Box Folder
2 1 Marriage to Winifred: wedding film and marriage certificate, 1969
2 Medical, 1988-1995 and undated
Box Folder
2 3 Copyright, 1987
4 Editor information, undated
5 Final copies of first edition, 1987
6 Research material, 1960-1996
7 Revisions and edits, 1987 and undated
8 Obituaries, August 1996
9 Photographs: Hal, 1906, 1984-1996, and undated
10 Photographs: Hal with family and friends, 1986-1994 and undated
11 Power of Attorney/Declaration of Guardian, 1990-1995
12 Real estate, 1995-1996 and undated
Box Folder
3 1 Bible, 1901
2 Newspaper clippings, 1951-1956 and undated
3 Yarmulke, undated
Box Folder
3 4 Correspondence, 1995-1996 and undated
5 "Mayer H. Halff Trust" (aka Rosa Trust), 1955
6 "M. H. Halff Family Trust", 1990-1995
Box Folder
3 7 December 11, 1989
8 December 19, 1994
9 January 11, 1995
10 September 22, 1995
Box Folder
4 1 Yearbook: University of Texas at Austin, The Cactus, 1923
The bulk of the subseries consists of materials relating to Halff's 90th birthday celebration, including several photograph albums, correspondence, a guest book, and papers that record the planning of the party. There is also correspondence and photographic material from Christmas celebrations, Halff's 75th, 87th, and 89th birthdays, and various vacations.
Box Folder
4 2 Correspondence, 1995
3 Photographic Materials, 1986 and undated
4 Hal's 75th, 87th, and 89th birthdays: photographic materials, 1980, 1992, 1994
Hal's 90th birthday, 1995
Box Folder
4 5 Birthday wishes: Family
6 Birthday wishes: Friends
7 Birthday wishes: Postcards
Box Folder
5 1 Birthday wishes: Postcards
Large party
2 Guestbook
3 Photograph albums
Box Folder
6 1 Photograph albums
2 Photograph
3 Planning documents
4 Tea party: photograph album
5 Park and hunting permits, 1978-1990 and undated
Box Folder
6 6 Membership cards: hotel and travel clubs, 1994 and undated
7 Periodical: Travel Association News, Mid-January/February 1976
8 Photographic Materials, 1989-1991 and undated
9 Postcards, 1925, 1936, and undated
10 Souvenir change purse from Mexico, undated
11 Unknown celebrations: photographic materials, undated
This subseries contains newsletters, correspondence, membership lists, yearbooks, awards, patches and pins from the various organizations of which Halff was a member. Organizations he belonged to include the Bonzai Society, the Lakeway Men's Golf Associations, the Power Squadron, and the Rotary Club. Most material is from his membership in the Power Squadron, a "non profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects," in which Halff was heavily involved for years.
Bonzai Society
Box Folder
6 12 Bonzai care and maintenance, 1989 and undated
13 Catalogs from the Bonzai Farm, 1991
Box Folder
7 1 Nametag, undated
Box Folder
7 2 Bonzai Notebook, 1989-1991
3 Texas Bonzai, 1989
4 Yearbooks and membership directories, 1989-1991
Lakeway Men's Golf Association
Box Folder
7 5 Membership directory, 1986
Power Squadron
Box Folder
7 6 Awards, undated
7 Blazer patches, undated
8 Boat flag, undated
9 Correspondence, 1994-1996
10 Membership cards, 1990-1994 and undated
11 Newsletter: The Plotter, 1995-1996
12 Periodical: The Ensign, September 1995 and September 1996
13 Photographic Material, undated
14 Rosters, 1987-1995
15 Tie Tack, undated
16 Window Decal, undated
Rotary Club
Box Folder
7 17 Award, undated
18 Roster, undated
This subseries comprises the bulk of the Halff series, and contains correspondence, photographic materials, publications, and promotion certificates, chronicling Halff's military career. Also included is his record of involvement in the West Point Association of Graduates and the West Point Society of North Texas. Of particular interest is a collection of photographs from Halff's time in the army at Ft. Bliss c.1929. Another interesting item is a copy of the Political Handbook of Japan 1949 which Halff used while working on General MacArthur's staff in Japan. The book was used by servicemen in occupied Japan to help them function more easily within Japanese culture and politics. There are also books relating to religion in the military, as well as books on the subject of travel for retired and active military personnel.
New Mexico Military Institute
Box Folder
7 19 Alumni Association membership card, undated
20 Correspondence, 1995
21 Photographs, undated
22 Publications, 1995-1996
23 Yearbooks, 1921-1922
Box Folder
8 1 American Legion membership card, 1991
Box Folder
8 2 TROA (Texas Retired Officers Association), 1995-1997
3 VA (Veteran's Administration), 1942, 1996, and undated
4 Flyer for Lakeway Military Memorial Dedication, 1995
5 Marines-Memorial Club membership cards, 1993-1994
6 Travel books for military and retired military personnel, 1972-1975
7 TROA membership card, undated
Box Folder
8 8 Buttons (jacket), undated
9 Certifications, 1945-1960
10 Correspondence, 1942
11 First aid textbook, 1940
12 Military discharge wallet, undated
13 Patches, undated
14 Photographs, circa 1929 and undated
15 Political Handbook of Japan 1949, 1949
16 Promotions, 1931-1952
Religious Publications
Box Folder
8 17 Army and Navy Service Book, 1918
Box Folder
9 1 Jewish Bible – Army Issue, 1942
2 Soldiers' Book of Worship, undated
3 Think on These Things, 1941
West Point
Association of Graduates
Box Folder
9 4 Correspondence, 1995-1997 and undated
5 Memorial Book for Hal's 90th Birthday, 1995
6 Newsletters, 1995-1996
7 Class of 1928, South Texas Area, Roster, September 1987
8 Prints, undated
Box Folder
9 9 The 2004 West Point Fund: Annual Report of Gifts, 2004
10 Assembly, July/August 1997, July/August 1999
Box Folder
10 1 Official Register of Officers and Cadets, 1928
2 Register of Graduates and Former Cadets, 1995
3 Register of Graduates and Former Cadets, 1998
Box Folder
11 1 West Point: A Way of Life, 1963
2 Reunions/Founders' Day Dinners, 1993-1997 and undated
West Point Jewish Chapel
3 Lapel Pins, undated
4 Membership Card, 1994
West Point Society of North Texas
Box Folder
11 5 Calendar, 1994
6 Correspondence, 1994-1996
7 Newsletters, 1994-1996
8 Rosters, 1987-1996
Includes correspondence, photographs, funeral materials, and a will, pertaining to Halff's second wife, Winifred.
Box Folder
11 9 Correspondence, undated
10 Funeral materials, January 22, 1989
11 Photographic materials, undated
12 Will, 1987
Ione (Sissy)
Includes contain correspondence and photographs about Ione (Sissy), Halff's third wife.
Box Folder
11 13 Correspondence, 1971 and undated
14 Medical, 1995
15 Negatives, 1994-1998 and undated
16 Photographs, 1998 and undated
17 Photograph keychain, undated
18 Trust, undated

Halff Family and Friends

Box Folder
11 19 Birthdays and anniversaries list, undated
20 Family history, 1993-1996 and undated
21 Family trees, undated
22 Halff Interests documents, 1994-1996
23 Newspaper Article: Albert H. Halff (Hal's brother), Dallas Morning News, 1992
24 Obituaries: Betty Halff Llewellyn (Hal's sister), 1995
25 Photographs, undated
Box Folder
11 26 Photographs, undated