Young Texans During World War I

Drummond and an unidentified friend enjoy the outdoors during their junior college days. Drummond Webster Bartlett Papers #2877, Box 6, Folder 6.

by Amanda Neel, Graduate Assistant

Before Judge Drummond Webster Bartlett (1895-1963) began his illustrious law career and made national headlines for presiding over the world’s first televised trial in 1952, he was a social young man attending junior college.

This portion of his life is now a part of The Texas Collection through a donation of documents, known as the Drummond Webster Bartlett papers, 1911-1921. A sampling of letters drawn from the collection gives insight into the lives and minds of young adults in the early 20th century, specifically the years between the start of World War I and the United States’ entrance into the war in 1917.

Drummond and Lois Kirby gaze at each other from under the shade of a tree. Drummond Webster Bartlett Papers #2877, Box 6, Folder 7.

The largest portion of letters span the years 1915-1917 and come from Lois Kirby, a sweetheart of Drummond’s. Her letters showcase how the concerns of young Texans evolved through the years of World War I. Even though World War I started in 1914, Lois’ letters concerned parties, social calls, her work as a teacher, and, of course, her love and concern for Drummond. Not until 1917 does Lois address the war; she writes, “Everyone here seems to be getting enthused over the war. A Red Cross auxiliary was organized here last night.”

Nelle Gentry poses for a professional photograph. This image also serves as her photo for the 1918 Decatur Baptist College Yearbook.

A year later, Drummond joined the war effort himself. Another sweetheart, Nelle Gentry, wrote to Drummond in support of his military effort. In a letter addressed to her “Darling Soldier,” Nelle writes, “I have been crazy with joy for you…because you answered your country’s call and have given all ties of home and loved ones to go and do you[r] bit.” Her following letters contain accounts of friends and acquaintances involved in the war effort, as well as lines about her enduring love for Drummond.

Sadly, we do not have Drummond’s responses to the letters from his sweethearts. Though the sentiments expressed through the letters speak of undying love, the relationships did end. Bartlett’s marriage took place outside the scope of this collection. In 1933, Drummond Bartlett married a woman named Bessie Opal Smith. They remained together until Bartlett’s death in 1963.

Along with letters from sweethearts, Drummond’s papers also contain materials from his life as a junior college student, including homework assignments, society publications, and yearbooks. Also in the collection are military records documenting Drummond’s answer to the draft and his discharge in 1919, as well as a plethora of photographs that visually document his early life.

Five Things You Probably Don’t Know About The Texas Collection (Unless You Just Spent Ten Weeks Here)

by Emily Starr, Summer Intern

  1. Bring a sweater. The collections here are kept at 65°, which means it’s chilly. Even on the hottest 110° days, you’ll probably need an extra layer, but it’s for the good of the collections, so it’s worth it. There are really old books, maps, and other valuable pieces of history on paper, so it’s important to do our best to preserve them.
  2. Texas has really weird towns. The Texas Collection has a vast map collection, housing about 14,000 maps of mostly Texas, and I worked with over 2,500 of them. Scranton, Movie Mountain, and Blanket were some of my favorites. You can take a tour of Europe if you’re interested, including towns like London, Paris, Oxford, Dublin, Edinburg, Florence, and Athens. If you don’t believe me, just head to the map room in The Texas Collection. The collection houses a very extensive array of maps, and another thing you might not know is how beautiful they are! From really old historical maps of the U.S. and Texas to maps of Waco, many research needs can be met in the map room.
  3. We are a photogenic school. If you need any historical pictures of Baylor or Waco, The Texas Collection can help you out. Maybe you work for The Lariat, maybe you need vintage fashion inspiration, or maybe you’re just upping your Instagram game – regardless the reason, the archives are your gold mine! If you are like me, and you aren’t the first in your family to come to Baylor, it’s especially fun to see photos of Baylor and Waco when our parents and grandparents were here.
  4. You should start your research paper here. Not only are the resources available valuable for your research, but the reading room is a quiet space for any studying needs. There is always someone at the desk to help you, and it’s a nice change of pace from the other libraries that can be crowded at different points throughout the semester.
  5. If you leave when it’s closing time, you get to hear the bells. Although Carroll Library closes at 5:00pm, one of the best parts of my days this summer has been on the walk back to my car. I try to leave right on time just to to hear the bells because it’s a fun reminder of how the history housed in The Texas Collection is still reflected throughout Baylor today.

Today in Texas: January 24th

by Leanna Barcelona, University Archivist 

Seventy years ago on January 24, 1948, three Texas cities became one. Formerly known as the “Tri-Cities,” the towns of Baytown, Goose Creek, and Pelly unified as what is known known as the city of Baytown.

Goose Creek Oil Field was discovered in the 1910s, which allowed for rapid growth in both the economy and population in neighboring communities, Pelly and Baytown. With the construction of an oil refinery, jobs were created and many people flocked to the area. Around the time the oil was found, Humble Oil and Refining Company built their refinery in the Baytown area. Today, this refinery is one of Exxon-Mobil’s largest refineries. The oil company, in conjunction with World War II, helped bring the Tri-Cities together.

Ralph Fusco, in his chapter titled “World War II’s Effects on Consolidation” in the book, Baytown Vignettes, describes how Baytown came to be:

“Despite such storm beginnings, these feelings slowly subsided and the construction and subsequent wartime expansion of the refinery proved the beginning of a stable community. Even with the seeds of unity planted by the formation of the Humble Oil and Refining Company, sectionalism hung on in several towns that survived. It took the drastic and rapid changes brought about by World War II to weld these separate districts into a single homogeneous city. While these changes initiated the breakdown of the old social, economic and geographic barriers, they also encouraged the ultimate consolidation of Goose creek, Pelly and Old Baytown into the present day city Baytown. Through precipitating these changes, World War II provided the catalyst that sped this consolidation. 

From Pictorial History of the Baytown Area, Edited by Gary Dobbs. p. 4

The many changes in this community due to the war effort included the government funded expansion of the Humble Oil and Refining Plant. The company received the first government contracts for toluene (toluol) production, an intrinsic part of the make up of TNT, in 1941. The toluene project, built on Humble Refinery sites at the cost of twelve million dollars, employed two hundred people, and included a barracks that would accommodate three hundred workers.

World War II, with its rationing, increased demand for industrial output, and creation of new employment opportunities caused the Tri-Cities area to grow and served to unite the area. New people coming into the area helped combine the separate groups that existed before the war into a single more homogeneous group. old geographic boundaries were being rapidly erased, and old community isolationism disappeared. Rapidly occurring changes lent a feeling of oneness to the area. In this sense World War II became a major contributing factor for change when earlier attempts at consolidating the Tri-Cities had failed. In 1949 the are communities joined and incorporated into one city, the City of Baytown.”

At The Texas Collection, we collect materials related to any Texan town. Click here for more resources available on Baytown, TX and stay tuned for more Today in Texas blog posts to come!

Research Ready: December 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!

December’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

  • Letter from Charles Wellborn to Elma Merle Mears McClellan Duncan
    Letter from Charles Wellborn, student at Baylor and future evangelist and pastor, to the Armed Services Representative for Baylor University. In the letter, Wellborn describes drilling for the past week, after enlisting in the United States Army in July 1943.

    • BU Records: Armed Services Representatives, 1942-1945, undated (#BU/12): Collection contains correspondence sent by former students, parents, and government officials to Merle Mears McClellan, Baylor University’s Armed Services Representative during World War II. Baylor President Pat Neff appointed McClellan as the acting liason between the university and the military, in conjunction with Baylor University becoming a training site for Army officers prior to World War II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Cunningham, Eugene. Famous in the West. El Paso, TX: Hicks-Hayward Co., [1926]. Print.

Cunningham, Eugene. Famous in the West. El Paso, TX: Hicks-Hayward Co., [1926]. Print. 

Originally published in El Paso as an advertisement for Rodeo Outdoor Clothes, this volume contains info on cowboys such as “Jim” Gillett, Dallas Stoudenmire, Billy the Kid, and Tom Threepersons. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

 

College, Belton: For Women. [Belton, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1925 and 1929?]. Print.

College, Belton: For Women. [Belton, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1925 and 1929?]. Print. 

The purpose of this volume is two-fold. The many photographs of the grounds and student body show a beautiful, thriving Baylor College campus while the new development campaign seeks $500,000 to pay university debts and $250,000 to build a permanent endowment. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

Waco 52 Playing Cards. [Waco, TX]: [publisher not identified], [2017]. Print.

Waco 52 Playing Cards. [Waco, TX]: [publisher not identified], [2017]. Print. 

Though not a traditional book, this set of playing cards is unique to Waco. Each card is designed by a different artist and contains images of locations throughout the city, including the ALICO building, Waco Suspension Bridge, Hippodrome, Lake Waco, etc. Click here to view in BearCat.

Texas over Time: Texarkana, Texas

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Texarkana, Texas

•At the junction of Interstate 30 and U.S. highways 59, 67, 71 and 82 lies the town of Texarkana, Texas.

•The name Texarkana is coined for its location on the Texas

•Arkansas border and proximity to Louisiana.

•There is no certainty where the exact name came from but there were a few theories told over time:

The name’s origin belongs to a steamboat that voyaged the Red River in the late 1800s.

That a man named Swindle in Red Land, Bossier Parish, Louisiana who manufactured a drink called “Texarkana Bitters”
inspired the town’s name.

Or that Col. Gus Knobel, an Iron Mountain surveyor, coined the name while building the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and
Southern Railroad.

•The site that Texarkana lies on is the same site the Caddo Indian village was located. The Great Southwest Trail passed by this village for hundreds of years to the Mississippi River country and back.

•The city’s history and beginning development thrived because of its position on the Texas Arkansas border.

•Plots of land were first sold on Dec. 8, 1873 by the builders of the Texas and Pacific Railroad. The first plot was bought by J.W. Davis.

•State line Avenue separates the north and southbound lanes of this arterial road with the Texas side to the west and Arkansas’ side to the east.

•Bowie County, Texas remains a dry county resulting in several liquor stores lining the Arkansas side of midtown State Line Avenue.

•The city is considered one entity but has two municipalities, including two mayors and two sets of councilmen and city officials.

•There are agreements for joint fire departments, respective state inspections and recreational programs.

•In an eerie light, Texarkana is home to the unsolved

Texarkana Moonlight Murders of spring 1946. The town was sent into a state of panic that summer because of the still unidentified “Phantom Slayer.” The Texas Rangers kept watch over the inhabitants of Texarkana until they quietly and slowly left as so did the Phantom.

Works Cited

Handbook of Texas Online, “Texarkana, TX,” accessed July 18, 2016,

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hdt02.

Newton, Michael. The Texarkana Moonlight Murders: The Unsolved Case of the 1946 Phantom Killer. Jefferson: McFarland &, 2013. Print.

See the still images in our Flickr set.

Text and GIF by Haley Rodriguez