Research Ready: July 2017

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!

July’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

    • James Lee Barrett Screenplay collection, 1967 (#4001): Contains one screenplay entitled Bandolero!, written by James Lee Barrett in 1967. The resulting film starred James Stewart and Dean Martin, and centered around a bank robbery in Texas and subsequent chase into Mexican, “bandolero”-held territory.
Autographed title page of play book
Screenplay for the movie “Where the Heart Is,” a film from 2000 starting Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, and Joan Cusack. This screenplay, autographed by director Matt Williams and actress Natalie Portman, was given to Baylor University as a gesture of appreciation for letting portions of the movie be filmed on campus. You’ll find these items in the “Where the Heart Is” Screenplay collection, 1999 (#3384), box 1, folder 1, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

July’s print materials
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials

Sullivan, John H., Jr. "Gun-play" by the World's Fastest Revolver Shot "Texas Jack.” [United States]: [publisher not identified], [between 1932 and 1937]. Print.Sullivan, John H., Jr. “Gun-play” by the World’s Fastest Revolver Shot “Texas Jack.” [United States]: [publisher not identified], [between 1932 and 1937]. Print.

“Texas Jack” Sullivan, who claimed to be the world’s fastest revolver shot, analyzes the skills of other accomplished gunmen such as “Broncho John” Sullivan, “Wild Bill” Hickok, and “Bat” Masterson. Sullivan also offers advice on handling weapons and what one should do if involved in a “stick-up.” Click here to view in BearCat.



West-Texas: Das "Land der Gelegenheiten.” [Dallas, Texas?]: [publisher not identified], [1906?]. Print.

West-Texas: Das “Land der Gelegenheiten.” [Dallas, Texas?]: [publisher not identified], [1906?]. Print.

Written in Fraktur, this promotional booklet was produced by the Texas & Pacific Railway to entice Germans to West Texas. Like most promotionals, this one provides information on farming, climate, and opportunities.  Click here to view in BearCat.









Texas Prohibition Songs. Waco, Texas: Published and for sale by B. H. Simpson, [between 1900 and 1935?]. Print.

Texas Prohibition Songs. Waco, Texas: Published and for sale by B. H. Simpson, [between 1900 and 1935?]. Print. 

This two-sided pamphlet contains songs such as “Prohibition Battle Hymn” and “Vote the Whiskey Out,” all with a clear warning about demon liquor. Click here to view in BearCat.




Demise of the Cursed New Birmingham, Texas

by Anna Redhair, Graduate Student

Map of New Birmingham, Texas
Map of the proposed layout for the town of New Birmingham. The streets were named after major U.S. cities, Texas towns, and a few of the major investors in the project.

In the early 1880s, Alabama native and sewing machine salesman Alexander B. Blevins envisioned a town in East Texas that would rival the iron production of Birmingham in his home state. While traveling through the eastern part of Texas, he encountered significant iron ore deposits and identified a potential town site two miles east of Rusk, between Palestine and Nacogdoches. Blevins secured financial backing for “The Iron Queen of the Southwest” from his brother-in-law Gen. W. H. Hammon, a prominent Calvert lawyer, and several other wealthy investors from New York. The town, called New Birmingham, sold its first lot in 1888 and by 1891 it boasted around 2,000 residents, two working furnaces, a train depot, electric light station, carriage shop, ice manufacturer, pipe and bottling works, brick yard, and the largest hotel outside of Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Galveston. Most of these buildings were built with brick, demonstrating the founders’ intention for the town’s permanence.

The Texas Collection recently discovered two pieces of promotional material associated with New Birmingham: a map of the proposed layout of the town along with existing homes and buildings as of August 1891 and a promotional booklet with details about the town’s benefits and business opportunities, which can be accessed here: here and here. Yet, by 1893, New Birmingham was deserted and the Cherokee County Banner, a local newspaper, declared that the “Iron Queen was dead.” All the town’s residents left except for a single caretaker and his wife who lived in the Southern Hotel, but even that structure burned to the ground in 1926. Most scholars point to a lack of initial capital for the venture compounded by the Panic of 1893, an explosion that ruined one of the furnaces, and the unfavorable Alien Land Act passed by Texas governor James Hogg as likely causes of the city’s quick demise. A legend survives, however, that tells a significantly different and more dramatic reason for the total destruction of New Birmingham, Texas.

The Southern Hotel
The most impressive structure in New Birmingham was the Southern Hotel. It housed such distinguished guests as Texas Governor James Hogg, railroad magnate Jay Gould, and former President Grover Cleveland.

According to the legend, Gen. W. H. Hammon and his wife Ella lived in the Southern Hotel. Ella had bright red hair and was considered the most beautiful woman in the town. In 1890, grocer S. T. Cooney and his wife, who was also very beautiful, moved to the town. Mrs. Hammon supposedly became incredibly jealous and she and her husband began spreading rumors around the town about Mrs. Cooney’s conduct. S. T. Cooney filed a slander suit against Gen. Hammon, but instead of waiting for the court to handle the conflict, he took matters into his own hands and shot Hammon to death in the middle of the street on July 14, 1890. Mrs. Hammon witnessed her husband’s death and called on the townspeople to lynch Cooney, but public sentiment about the incident was divided. After unsuccessfully attempting to convince the defense attorney to drop Cooney as a client, she ran through the streets of New Birmingham with her red hair flowing and cursed the town, calling on God to “leave no stick or stone standing in this mushroom town.”

Ruins of the Town
This photo shows a single brick wall from the high school, the only structure remaining from the town of New Birmingham. The rest of the site has been overgrown by the surrounding East Texas forest.

Although the dramatic details of the legend cannot be proven, the slander suit and murder were reported in several Texas newspapers. The Galveston Daily News closely followed the trial and Cooney was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary on July 11, 1891. When the furnace exploded and the financial crisis hit New Birmingham in 1893, many townspeople recalled the curse of Mrs. Hammon and believed it to be a bad omen. Unlike other ghost towns in Texas, nothing remains to mark the place where this magnificent boomtown once stood. Most of the bricks from the businesses and homes were carted away during World War I or used to erect structures in the nearby town of Rusk. In a sense, Mrs. Hammon’s curse came true after all.


“Gen. Hammon Killed.” Dallas Morning News. July 15, 1890. America’s Historical Newspapers, Readex. accessed June 14, 2017.

Long, Christopher. “New Birmingham, Texas” A New Handbook of Texas. Vol. 4. Austin, TX: Texas State Historical Association, 1996.

“Made It Manslaughter.” The Galveston Daily. July 11, 1891. accessed June 14, 2017.

“New Birmingham.” Cherokee County History. John Allen Templeton, ed.  Jacksonville, TX: Cherokee County Historical Commission, 1986.

New Birmingham Iron and Improvement Co. of Texas. New Birmingham, Cherokee County, Texas. Chicago: Rand, McNally, and Co., 1891.

New Birmingham, Texas. Chicago: Rand, McNally, and Co., 1891.

New Birmingham, Texas [Vertical File] The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Roach, Hattie Joplin. A History of Cherokee County. Dallas, TX: Southwest Press, 1934.

Stories from Independence: Baylor Historical Society

By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

This post is part of a series that highlights Independence, Texas, the home of Baylor University from 1845 to 1886.

One of the many historic preservation groups that has assisted with preserving history in and around Independence through the years was the Baylor Historical Society. Formed to “stimulate interest in the history of Baylor University,” the society was founded in February 1941. Membership was open to anyone interested, and it cost only $1 to join the society. Members attended regular meetings on the Baylor campus, and usually heard a historical paper presentation at each meeting. Featured speakers included such state luminaries as Price Daniel (governor of Texas 1956-1962) and Pat Neff (governor of Texas 1921-1925, president of Baylor University 1932-1947). Longtime Baylor staff and faculty members P.D. Browne, Robert L. Reid, and Lily Russell served as society officers, and many descendants of early Baylor-associated families were members of the organization.

Celebrating the first restoration of the iconic columns at Independence. Pictured are (left to right): Dr. Gordon Singleton, President of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Judge Royston Crane, son of former Baylor president William Carey Crane,, Dr. W. R. White, President of Baylor University, Judge E. E. Townes, Vice President of the Baylor Board of Trustees (Board of Regents).

The society was very interested in preserving Texas, Baylor, and community history at Independence. Members raised money to stabilize the iconic Baylor columns, discussed a plan to reconstruct a dorm and operate it as an inn, and lobbied the Texas Legislature to turn part of Independence into a state park. Members also helped the Texas State Garden Club landscape around Independence.

It is not known exactly when the society disbanded. By 1964, the society only had 21 members at their annual meeting, and many of the people who had taken the lead in forming and running the organization had passed away. Longtime member P.D. Browne donated the society’s records to the Texas Collection in 1975.



Works Cited: BU Records:  Baylor Historical Society, Accession #BU/28, The Texas Collection, Baylor University, and BU Records:  Historical Research Office, Accession #BU/103, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.


Research Ready: June 2017

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!

June’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

  • Leon Jaworski papers, 1905-1983, undated (#2442): Includes materials that describe the professional and personal life of Leon Jaworski from 1905 to 1983. Jaworski is most widely regarded for his roles in Watergate, the war crime trials in Germany, and as Special Assistant Attorney General in USA v. Ross Barnett. These papers also reflect his legal and civic service, as well as his involvement with the Warren Commission and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Personal materials, speeches and addresses, and Jaworski’s literary productions are also found in these papers.
  • Tommy West papers, 1975-1998 (#3569): This collection contains some of the literary works of journalist Tommy West, as well as a few personal remarks describing West by journalist Ray Bell.
Manual belonging to Leon Jaworski, who was the first American to try war crimes in Europe under the Geneva Convention. Jaworski wrote annotations and notes, and taped changes to the book on the actual pages. Leon Jaworski papers, Accession #21442, Box 257, Folder 4, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

June’s print materials
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials

 The Dallas Automobile Country Club: with its Lands, Buildings, Tennis Court, Bowling Alleys, Shooting Trap: Billiard, Lounging and Dining Rooms, and Modern Equipment. [Dallas?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1910 and 1940?]. Print. 

This beautiful pamphlet states, “The Dallas Automobile Country Club is an association of gentlemen who own automobiles who desire a clean, high-class rendezvous where they may bring their families…”. Dining, dancing, bowling, and billiards are just some of the activities offered to club members. Click here to view in BearCat.


Pecos Land and Cattle Company. Charter and By-Laws of the Pecos Land and Cattle Company of Texas. Exeter, N.H.: printed by William B. Morrill, 1886. Print.

The Pecos Land and Cattle Company, organized in 1884, was made up of investors primarily from Massachusetts. This volume contains Articles of Incorporation and Code of By-Laws. Also included are the names and duties of the Board of Directors. Click here to view in BearCat.



1921 Lamar Fair and Exposition: Paris, Texas, Oct. 10-11-12-13-14-15. [Paris, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [1921]. Print.

Published in 1921 as Lamar County was celebrating the centennial of its settlement, this expansive volume highlights the many events that make up the fair and exposition, including horse racing, swine show, merchant exposition, agriculture and horticultural product exhibits, entertainment, and centennial pageants. Click here to view in BearCat.