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Oysters, Macaroni, and Beer:

Thurber, Texas, and the Company Store

By Gene Rhea Tucker

 

Foreword by Richard Francaviglia

 

From 1894 to 1934, a span of forty years that saw its parent company go from coal mining to oil drilling, the Texas Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company operated and managed the various commercial and service enterprises essential to life in Thurber, Texas.

 

Thurber was a company town, wholly owned by the Texas and Pacific Coal Company, and the inhabitants viewed the “company store” with suspicion before and after unionization in 1903, believing it monopolistic and exploitative.  But to call the mercantile a monopoly, or a mere contrivance to exploit laborers, paints an incomplete portrait of the company store as it existed in Thurber and elsewhere.

 

With a keen eye for context—honed by a career in banking—Tucker reads the pages of ledgers in the same way most historians read diaries or newspapers.  In this thoroughgoing study he examines a wealth of company records, interviews, and newspaper accounts, presenting a case study not only of the microcosm of Thurber and TPM&M but of relations between labor and management in industrializing Texas, and a larger story of the complex role of the company store and company town in America.

 

Product Details

 

ISBN-13: 9780896727687

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

Publication date: 9/20/2012

Pages: 216

Size: 6″ x 9″

Photos: 36 black & white photos

Maps: 3 maps

Series: Plains Histories

 

WorldCat information

 

Booksellers

 

·         Texas Tech University Press (hardcover)

·         Texas Tech University Press (e-book)

·         Amazon.com (hardcover)

·         Amazon.com (e-book)

·         Barnes & Noble (hardcover)

·         Barnes & Noble (e-book)

·         Google Books (hardcover)

·         Google Books (e-book)

 

Table of Contents

 

·         Plainsword (Foreword)

·         The Company Town of Thurber

·         A “Company Store” for Thurber

·         The Commercial Enterprises of Thurber

·         More Than Just Stores: Services for the Town

·         The Company Store and the Workers

·         A Withering Town with Dwindling Business

·         Epilogue: The Afterlife of a Ghost Town

 

Index

 

Abilene, Texas, 3, 27, 29, 85

advertising, 20, 27, 37, 64–65, 68–69, 76, 85, 103–104

alcohol

      beer, 45–48, 51–54, 86, 110

drunkenness, 23, 48, 51, 55

grappo, 34, 54–55

wine, 34, 47, 54

See also bootlegging

bakery, 29, 32, 36, 38, 106

bandstand, 4–5, 44, 93, 112

barber shop, 29, 70–71, 104

Bennett, Carrol M., 116–17

Bennett, Randy, 117–18

blacksmiths, 62, 63, 64, 73, 76, 79, 88, 92

Bluff Dale, Texas, 112

bootlegging, 54–55, 102

bricks and brick workers. See Thurber Brick Company

Britton, Edward S., 35, 36, 37, 55, 65, 76, 84, 94, 102

butchers, 22, 40–41, 73

carpenters, 5, 60–62, 62, 73, 97, 102, 107, 109–110

“check.” See scrip

Children of God, 117

coal, bituminous, xii–xv, 3–5, 83

Coalville, Texas, 6–7

Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, 12–13, 94

company towns and company stores, xi–xv, 3–5, 7, 10–14, 21, 26–27, 56, 72, 81–83, 88, 94, 110, 119

cotton gin, 27, 64, 103, 109, 112

crime, 17, 24, 48–49, 51, 54

See also bootlegging and prostitution

Cronk, Frank S., 20–22, 24

dairy, 64–65, 65, 100, 102, 118

Dillingham, William P., 82

drugstore, 5, 14, 22, 29, 32, 36, 41–43, 42, 43, 54–55, 65, 70–71, 73, 89, 93, 98, 104, 114, 116–19

dry goods store, 5, 32, 34–38, 34, 37, 43–44, 44, 55, 71, 73, 76, 89, 90, 93, 102–104, 107, 108, 109, 114, 116, 118

Dublin, Texas, 86

Duffau, Texas, 112

electric plant, 29, 57–58, 102, 112

Erath County, Texas, 5–6, 23, 35, 49–50, 53, 92

farms and farmers

company, 14, 27, 29, 40, 56, 65–66, 66, 100

local, 6, 15, 29, 40, 64, 77, 80, 102–103

fence, 13–16, 22, 27, 77–78, 80–86, 88

filling station, 98, 99, 102, 104, 112, 114, 116–17

fire department, 29, 36, 104

fires, 35–36, 37, 64, 70, 104–106, 118

Fort Worth, Texas, 3–4, 8, 13, 25, 37, 40, 54, 107, 111, 114

gardens, company, 27, 29, 40, 56, 66–67

general store, 13–14, 22, 28, 29, 32, 34–37, 37, 44, 73–74, 78–79, 100, 112, 134n20

Gordon, Texas, 6, 15, 37, 77–78, 83–84, 90, 106

Gordon, William K., 20, 22–23, 57, 79, 80, 83–85, 92, 95, 100–102, 104, 109, 113–14

oil exploration and, 95, 97

prohibition and, 49, 53, 55

TPM&M and, 20, 36, 47, 68, 84–85, 89–90, 95, 100–101

Gordon, William K., Jr., 74, 92, 116, 118

Gould, Jay, 5–6, 8–9

Grant Town, 23, 27, 45, 78–79, 86, 89, 101

Greystone Castle, 118–19

grocery, 23, 32, 34–35, 37–38, 40, 43, 44, 48, 55, 64–66, 71, 73, 89, 93, 93, 99, 101–104, 109, 112

Hannibal, Texas, 109, 112

hardware store, 13–14, 22, 29, 32, 36, 39–41, 39, 44, 55, 89, 93, 98, 99, 102–104, 105

hotels, 29, 36, 55–56, 69–71, 97

Huckabay, Texas, 112

Hunter, Robert Dickie, 8–10, 12–18, 16, 20, 23–27, 29, 35, 40, 60, 65, 67, 77, 83

ice plant, 4, 28, 36, 55, 57–58, 88, 99, 102, 112

Independent Order of Good Templars, 53

Johnson Coal Mining Company, 6–9, 13, 16

Johnson, Harvey, 6–8

Johnson, William W., 6–9

Johnsonville, Texas, 7. See also Thurber

Knights of Labor, 6, 9–10, 18

labor-management relations, xii, 12–15, 23–26, 79–85, 80, 92–94, 101

See also strikes, in Thurber

Lawson, Thomas, 17–18

Lewis, John L., 80

library, 22, 27, 29

livery stable, 14, 22, 56, 58–60, 59, 73, 88, 102, 109

lumberyard, 61–62, 102

Lyra, Texas, 83

machine shop, 29, 39, 41, 62, 63, 64

Marston, A. B., 76–77

Marston, Edgar J., 104–107

Marston, Edgar L., 3, 9, 53, 55, 69, 76, 80, 88–89, 97, 99–101, 104

TPM&M and, 21, 29–30, 48, 55, 64–65, 67, 84, 88–89, 94–95, 97

McDonald, Bill, 24

McMurray, Sam A., 10

meat market, 28, 29, 32, 40–41, 41, 55, 57, 65, 73, 89, 94, 98, 99, 101–102, 104, 105

mechanics, 99

Midland, Texas, 111

Mingus, Texas, 45, 54–55, 59, 70, 78–79, 84–86, 89–90, 100, 102, 112

Mineral City, Texas, 83

Mineral Wells, Texas, 53

miners

credit for, xii, 21–22, 72, 94, 101

economic and social distinctions, 72, 74–76

ethnicity and nationality, 3, 18, 72–74, 83, 101

religion, 74, 76

savings, 86–87

wages, 10, 19, 21–23, 74, 79, 82, 84, 86–89, 92–95, 99, 101

working conditions, 18–19

See also labor-management relations and scrip

newspapers, company, 27, 35–37, 49–50, 64–69, 69, 76–77, 85, 100, 103–104

New York Hill, 4, 97, 118

oil, 94–95, 97

exploration for, 29, 95, 97, 102

opera house, 29, 44, 67, 68, 74, 76, 93, 103–104, 110

painters, 60–61, 62, 73, 110

Palo Pinto County, Texas, 5, 23, 27, 29, 50, 52–53, 90

peddlers, 15–16, 27, 77–78, 81–84, 89–91, 110

Penn, John Roby, 101

pharmacists, 5, 14, 43, 73

physicians, 14, 21,  39, 43, 70–71, 86, 91

print shop, 56, 67–69, 69, 102–103, 106–107

prohibition, 49–50, 52–54, 86

prostitution, 91–92

Pullman, George, 12

racial segregation, 48, 67, 73–74, 76

ranches, company, 56, 65–66, 100, 114

Ranger, Texas, 55, 97, 99–100, 104, 109, 111, 113

religion, 74, 76

reservoirs, 29, 56–57

Big Lake, 40, 57, 64, 66, 99–100, 114, 116–18

Little Lake, 57, 74, 97

restaurants, 4–5, 45, 52, 56, 70–71, 112, 114, 117–18

Rockefeller, John D., 3, 69, 95

saloons, 12–13, 45–55, 57–59, 73, 78–79, 85–86, 89–90, 110

Bruce and Stewart’s, 23–24

Grant’s, 23

Lawson’s, 17–18

Lizard Saloon, 45–50, 46, 73, 134n20

profits, 17–18, 22, 48, 52, 55

Saloon Number Three, 45, 47, 52

Snake Saloon, 18, 38, 45–54, 46, 51, 73, 76, 118, 136n26

Ward’s, 13, 16–17

White Elephant, 13

Sayers, Joseph D., 3

scrip, xii, 18, 21–22, 27, 71, 81–83, 86–90, 92–94, 99–101, 103

Seagram and Sons, 116, 118

“Sixteen Tons,” xvii, 82, 94

slaughterhouse, 22, 40–41, 66

stagecoach, 28, 59–60

St. Barbara’s (Catholic church), 4, 14, 112, 118

Stephenville, Texas, 35, 49, 85–87, 112, 119

Stonega Coke and Coal Company, 12

stores. See individual stores

Strawn, Texas, 37, 60, 77, 83, 86, 104

strikes, 23–24

in Johnsonville, 8–9

in Thurber, 9–10, 79–89, 92–93, 95, 101, 158n63, 160n10

Sullivan, W. John. L., 17

Sun Oil, 118

Tarleton State University, 119

Texas Coal and Fuel Company, 84–85

Texas Industries, 117–118

Texas and Pacific Coal Company, xiii, 3, 13, 29, 97

Mercantile Department, 13–14, 20, 27. See also Texas Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company

profits, 12, 16, 18, 27, 29, 94–95, 97

rents, 60, 67, 97

See also Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company after 1918

Texas and Pacific Railway, xiii, 5–6, 8–9, 56, 58, 95, 99, 102

Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, 3, 97, 100, 103, 111.

      credit, for workers, 104

profits, 99, 101, 104

rents, 103

wages, 99, 101

See also Texas and Pacific Coal Company before 1918, and Texas Pacific Oil Company after 1963

Texas Pacific Fidelity and Surety Company, 105–106

Texas Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company (TPM&M), xiii, 4–5, 19, 26–27, 56, 88–89, 109–111, 119

charter, 26, 56–57, 71

demise, 107, 109

employee economic and social distinctions, 74–76

employee ethnicity and nationality, 72–74

foundation, 9, 24–26

labor’s perception of, 22–24, 27, 72, 77–94, 103

nepotism, 76–77

order wagons, 34, 44, 59

outside competition and, 16, 23, 27, 45, 65, 77–79, 84–86, 89–91

prices, xiv, 21, 23, 29, 40, 47–48, 72, 77–78, 80–86, 89–90, 93–94, 107, 109

profits, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29, 38, 48, 55, 84–86, 90–95, 97, 99, 101, 109

wages, 74, 86–88

See also various stores and services.

Texas Pacific Oil Company, 116–117.

See also Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company and Texas and Pacific Coal Company before 1963

Texas Rangers, 10, 17, 24, 35, 76

Thurber

destruction, 107, 109, 111–12, 113

downtown quadrangle, 32, 44, 93, 98

foundation, 7, 9

historical markers in, 4, 53, 114, 116, 118

Thurber Brick Company, 4, 39, 48, 58, 62, 100, 102–104, 106–107, 112–13, 113

bricks, Thurber, 3–5, 48, 102, 104, 113

brick workers, 72–74, 101, 106, 109, 111

wages, 74, 86

Thurber Ex-Students and Teachers Association, 115–16

Thurber Historical Association, 4, 116–119

Thurber, Horace Kingsley, 9, 26

Thurber Junction, Texas. See Mingus, Texas.

Thurber Lake. see reservoirs, Big Lake.

Thurber Old Settlers Association, 114, 116

unionization of Thurber, xiii, 3, 16, 22, 47–48, 52, 66, 72, 74, 77–89, 92, 99, 109, 137n43

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), 79–81, 80, 87–88, 101

W. K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas, 4, 119

Walmart, xv

waterworks, 29, 56–57, 97, 99, 109–110, 112

Webb, Walter Prescott, 51–52, 115

Whitehead, Albert, 10, 114, 115

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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