Look Who's Talking about Texas History

Davick Services recommends the Facebook Group "West Texas History & Memories" for history, famous people, old photos, stories, unclaimed estates and genealogy of the Western Half of Texas . . . Check it out and join the conversation

Books and Stories About Texas Workers
What's Your Favorite Book or Story about Texas Workers? Here's some of our favorites about the workers and laborers that made Texas what it is today.

 

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The Great Plains during World War II

"In Big Spring, law enforcement officers stopped trucks carrying workers heading for town during the cotton season warned them that stopping there meant arrest.

"A farmer in Crosby County Texas reported that he usually paid workers $27.50 per bale to pick cotton but a  mechanical stripper cost him only $2.10 per bale..."

"Male employees, such as those working at the zinc smelters in Amarillo and Dumas, Texas could not quit without the permission of the U.S. Employment Service. Workers who failed to acquire a certificate of separation from the agency could not be rehired by another employer."

"In Summerfield, Texas, the Baptist Church used Italian POWs on loan from a farmer for a basement and roofing project..."

"By late 1943 Great Plains ranchers experienced a shortage of cowhands as a result of the draft. In December the Matador Land and Cattle Company had five thousand calves unbranded owing to the labor shortage..."  Read more

Texas Ranger Tales: Stories That Need Telling

Found inside: "All the action seems to have been taking place at the nearby Bastrop County community of McDade, Where a murder and the hasty lynching of the alleged perpetrator were reported on May 9, 1874. The killing was the culmination of a small difficulty that started when a man tossed a dirty sock into the skillet of a railroad worker who was preparing his meal  . . ."  Read more Look inside

The Crepe Myrtle

This is a family story which traces the lives of two families - The Packard's and the Fosters.

"Ruby Inez Packard was born in Brownwood, Texas in March of 1926. Her father was Bob Gay, a rancher and Santa Fe Railroad worker  " ... Read more Look inside

Ghost Towns of Texas

"All these workers and hanger ons needed places to live, eat, and sleep, and almost overnight the town of Fry sprang up along the old road from Brownwood through Thrifty to Coleman. From a bare pasture in June 1926 it became an entire town in only six months..." Read more Look inside

Vengeance Is Mine: The Scandalous Love Triangle That Triggered the Boyce-Sneed Feud

"It didn't take Barton long to earn an unenviable reputation for himself in the Paducah community. A neighboring farmer, Ed Carnes, would later say that he was so appalled by Barton's mistreatment of his Mexican cotton pickers that he voluntarily appeared before the Cottle County grand jury and testified that Barton was beating his worker. When Barton heard about it, he jerked Carnes off his wagon seat one day in downtown Paducah and beat him soundly. Not satisfied with that, Barton proceeded to bite a chunk out of Carne's ear..." Read more Look inside

Kilhaven Farms: A Story of Love and Prejudice

In 1960, a time in America when it was illegal for whites to marry nonwhites, Gloria Kilhaven, the 20 year daughter of a white farmer in Texas, and Nico Modesto, the 20 year old son of a Mexican American migrant farm worker family, fell in love only to incur the wrath of a racist world bent on preventing them from realizing their love . . ." Read more Look inside

Big Red: Memoirs of a Texas Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Based on a series of oral history interviews with Dr. Don Carleton, the book begins with an account of McCombs's childhood in the West Texas town of Spur, where he first went into business for himself at the age of ten by selling peanuts to farm workers . . . Read more

Seventh-day Adventists in New Mexico and El Paso, Texas 1909-1916:

...a continuation of the courage, dedication, and sacrifices made by the early SDA workers who brought the Texico Conference into existence. They provided the foundation for where it is today - from small informal groups to the growth of churches and schools with buildings. Reliance on railroad travel is still primary, but the automobile is just  . . . Read more

The Birth of a Texas Ghost Town: Thurber, 1886–1933

In its heyday, Thurber was home to coal miners and brick plant workers from Italy, Poland, and as many as fourteen other European nations, not to mention the many Mexican immigrants who came to the area. In this, her master’s thesis, Mary Jane Gentry, who started the first grade in Thurber and graduated as valedictorian of its high school in 1930, records first-hand memories of the town’s vibrant charm. . . . Read more

Death List, Trail of Terror

Two pretty petite social workers—Janice Lefever and Betty Jane Tucker— made a fateful stop along a New Mexico highway . . . Read more Look inside

Thurber Texas: The Life and Death of a Company Coal Town

The Thurber coal district sprang to life in the late 1880s in northern Erath County, Texas, some seventy miles west of Fort Worth. The mines were opened by the Texas & Pacific Coal Company to fuel the locomotives of its railway, whose tracks crossed the state from Marshall to El Paso. The company also built the town of Thurber to service the mines. It then imported workers from distant points, eventually including some twenty nationalities, whose old country ways contrasted sharply with . . . Read more

Prairie Nights to Neon Lights: The Story of Country Music in West Texas

"Roy Orbison was born April 23, 1936 in Vernon, Texas. Roy's father, Orbie Lee Orbison, an oilfield worker, moved the family frequently to follow the available work. He moved to Vernon from Floydada, Texas . . . " Read more Look inside

Bodies of Evidence: The Shocking True Story of America's Most Chilling Serial Murderess

"According to the insurance forms, she was born Judias Anna Lou Welty in Quanah, Hardeman County, Texas, just below the Panhandle, not too far south of the Oklahoma border, on April 4, 1943. Her father was Zia Jesse Otto Welty, an itinerant farm worker. Her mother, Judias Mary Lou Northam, was a full-blooded Apache. Judias claimed the Apache chief Geronimo was her great-great-granddaddy ..." Read more Look inside

Stamford (Images of America)

Stamford arose almost overnight at the turn of the 20th century as a partnership between the Texas Central Railroad and the vast Swenson Brothers ranches. Businessmen, workers, and cattlemen began erecting the new community even before the railroad arrived in February 1901. The young city quickly became a commercial center with additional railroad connections, wholesale distributors, banks, brick-paved streets, small industries, a hospital, and the renowned Stamford Inn. Over the next two decades... Read more

Miles From Nowhere: Tales From America's Contemporary Frontier

Found Inside: "He was Skeet Jones, the son of Mary Belle and “ Punk ” Jones of Loving County, and by this time in his young life he had already been a roughneck in Alaska's oil fields, a rodeo cowboy, an itinerant ranch hand, and an oil worker in other ... Read more

Testimonio: A Documentary History of the Mexican-American Struggle

"In January, 1927, according to the Mexican Consul in El Paso, sheriff deputies in Stanton, Texas , persuaded three Mexicans to go inside a bank to inquire about a job . When the workers exited , the officials opened fire , killing two and " . . . Read more Look inside

Blessèd Assurance: At Home with the Bomb in Amarillo, Texas

In 1982, with Cold War anxieties running high, A.G. Mojtabai set out for Amarillo, Texas, home of Pantex, the final assembly plant for all nuclear weapons in the United States. Through the lens of this particular city, she sought to focus on our adaptation as a nation to the threat of nuclear war. Her interviews began with Pantex workers assured of both the necessity and the safety of the work that they did, and in the steady, beneficent, advance of science. Working alongside them were fundamentalist Christians who believed . . . Blessed Assurance won the year's Lillian Smith Award for the best book about the South in 1986 . . . Read more

African Americans in Amarillo

Amarillo became a town in 1887 when merchants opened stores to cater to railroad workers. The first African Americans in the area were Jerry Callaway, who came to the area in 1888 with a white family, and Mathew "Bones" Hooks, a highly respected cowboy who moved to Amarillo in 1900 and later worked for the railroad. By 1908, five African American families had moved to Amarillo. The black community grew and people established churches, businesses, and schools. With the 1950s and 1960s, Amarillo citizens participated , . . Read more Look Inside   . . . for more like this please see Black Texans in History

Rows of Memory: Journeys of a Migrant Sugar-Beet Worker

by Saul Sanchez

Every year from April to October, the Sánchez family traveled―crowded in the back of trucks, camping in converted barns, tending and harvesting crops across the breadth of the United States. Although hoeing sugar beets with a short hoe was their specialty, they also picked oranges in California, apples in Washington, cucumbers in Michigan, onions and potatoes in Wisconsin, and tomatoes in Iowa. Winters they returned home to Crystal City in the Winter Garden region in South Texas... Read more Look inside

The Eagle Has Eyes: The FBI Surveillance of César Estrada Chávez of the United Farm Workers Union of America, 1965–1975

by Jose Angel Gutierrez

"Manuel Salas from Crystal City, Texas, my hometown, was a labor contractor or troquero. The troquero is not held in high regard by workers because of corruption. Many troqueros would charge worker for the transportation and for water to drink. They would keep the Social Security deduction and not report it, and pick and choose who to give preference to for work. I grew up with the Salas children, Manuel Jr., Jesus, and Chacho, when they still lived or returned to live in Crystal City..." Read more Look inside

Resources:

Early Life in Texas County by County

Books about Texas People and Places

True Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texas (Facebook)

Texas History in the 19th Century (Amazon)

Vintage Texas Photos (eBay)

 

What's your Favorite Book about a Texas County, Town, Person or Place? Here's our best reads list County by County

 

Mysterious TexasTrue Stories of Amazing People and Places in Texcas
 Loneliest, Least Populated Counties in Texas
Texas Cowboy HistoryBooks about Texas People 

County by County