A Historical Timeline of Thurber, Texas

1884
June:  Colonel Robert D. Hunter's daughter, Jennifer Colorado, marries Edgar Lewis Marston, later president of the Texas and Pacific Coal Company.

1885
March:  Grover Cleveland becomes the 22nd president of the United States.

About 85% of cattle in western Texas die from freezing and starvation through a combination of drought with severe winters in 1885-1887.

1886
October:  William and Harvey Johnson purchase Pedro Herrera survey property, future site of Thurber.

December: Johnson Brothers' mineshaft No. 1 becomes operational.

Texas and Pacific Railway agrees to construct a spur rail line to the Johnson Brothers' mining operation, but do not sign a contract for coal purchases until May 7, 1887.

1887
February:  Interstate Commerce Act requires railroads to charge reasonable rates and forbids them from offering rate reductions to favored customers.
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Johnson Brothers incorporate as the Johnson Coal Company; the first board of directors meeting is held on July 13.

1888
January 30:  Harvey Johnson dies.

Members of the Knights of Labor organized a local union at the Johnson mines.

August:  Johnson Coal Company announces that it is unable to meet its payroll.

September:  Miners "strike" for unpaid wages continuing labor action until fall.

October:  Hunter and son-in-law, Edgar Marston, with backing from Horace Thurber and others, form the Texas and Pacific Coal Company.

Texas and Pacific Coal Company chartered by the state of Texas, October 4, with an organizational meeting on October 6.

November: Texas and Pacific Coal Company purchases and takes possession of the Johnson Coal Company's mining operations, with disgruntled miners threatening Colonel Hunter on November 12

Texas and Pacific Coal Company begin construction of a general store, drug store, and hardware store.

Texas Ranger S.A. McMurry arrives at coal mines December 12, remaining to ensure the security of mines until July 8, 1889

1889
February:  First miners are brought in by Texas and Pacific Coal Company to work in its mines.

T & P Coal Company builds 200 cabins for miners, churches, schools, boarding houses, offices, and stables.

Thomas Lawson opens a saloon at the company town, succeeding John L. Ward's contract with the Johnson brothers, May 20

William Knox Gordon arrives in Texas and surveys route for a railway line between Thurber and Dublin until November

Experienced coal miners recruited from northern states and other countries; eventually, as many as 20 different countries would be represented in the town.

1890
July:  Colonel Hunter appeals to the Texas Rangers for protection due to threats.

Texas Ranger Captain S.A. McMurry comes to Thurber for a second time, July 10.

Infant Eva Chapman becomes the first burial in Thurber cemetery.

Shaft No. 3 becomes operational.

U.S. Census Bureau announces that the western frontier was now closed.

1891
Construction of the Little Lake for water supply begins; completed the next year.

1892
Ellis Island opens to screen immigrants entering the United States.

Shafts Nos. 4 and 5 become operational.

The first public library is established in Erath County with a gift of books from H.K. Thurber.

Texas and Pacific Coal Company build Presbyterian and Catholic churches.

1893
Shaft No. 6 becomes operational.

Panic of 1893 begins the worst depression in American history up to that time

1894
Thurber's first newspaper, "The Texas Miner," published. Price: $1 per year.

The company charters the Texas Pacific Mercantile and Manufacturing Company, a subsidiary, to manage the company stores and businesses (other than the mines).

Hunter Catholic Academy opened with 400 students.

Knox Hotel completed.

Shaft No. 7 becomes operational, November

1895
The first electric generating plant is constructed using wood armatures built in the Company shops.

The Company purchases passenger cars to transport miners to and from the mines each day; charged miners $1 per month for the service.

Hospital, staffed with doctors and nurses, opens.

1896
Opera House is built and the first grand ball is held there, October 19

Thurber Colts baseball team is recognized as an amateur champion team in Texas, autumn

Big Lake (now called Thurber Lake) constructed near the site of old Strike Town to supply water.

New water treatment plant constructed and Company begins piping water to homes and businesses.

A new 17-ton ice plant constructed to supply the town, the railroad, and surrounding communities.

1897
February: Thurber shale is tested for suitability for brick production.

Green and Hunter Brick Company built in March and begins producing bricks immediately. Soon became one of the largest brick plants in the state.

Fire in Mine No. 5

Texas and Pacific Coal Company builds the Snake Saloon

1898
Paving brick department added to the brick plant

Smokestack constructed to serve the brick plant

Shaft No. 9 becomes operational

Thurber's newspaper changes its name to the "Texas Mining & Trade Journal."

1899
Colonel Robert D. Hunter resigns as president of the Texas and Pacific Coal Company, with Edgar L. Marston succeeding him

1900
W. K. Gordon named General Manager.

Shaft No. 6 is abandoned, leaving No's. 7, 8, and 9 in production

Shaft No. 10 becomes operational

1901
January: Texas and Pacific Coal Company formally acquires Green and Hunter Brick Company.

Oil is discovered in vast quantities at Spindletop near Beaumont, Texas, January 10

Large direct-current dynamo is installed

Texas and Pacific Coal Company builds Baptist and Methodist churches

1902
Fire destroys the Thurber general store and bakery, February 25

The United Mine Workers stage a strike against anthracite coal mine operators in the northeastern states; President Theodore Roosevelt appoints a commission to mediate the settlement, May 12

Texas Governor Joseph D. Sayers visits Thurber in May

Colonel Robert D. Hunter dies November 8.

The company purchases two stores and a saloon at Thurber Junction (Mingus) to eliminate competition to company-owned establishments.

Some railroads in Texas changing from coal to crude oil as fuel for their engines.

1903
William Knox Gordon marries Fay Kearby, February 25.

United Mine Workers attempt to organize at Thurber and go out on strike; Texas Ranger Captain John H. Rogers arrives to protect mining property, September 7.

United Mine Workers begin strike against Texas and Pacific Coal Company, September 10.

First labor union meeting held at Thurber Opera House, September 20.

Edgar L. Marston signs a labor agreement for the Texas and Pacific Coal Company, September 27.

Orville Wright makes the first successful human flight by powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, December 17.

Shaft No. 11 becomes operational.

Every worker in Thurber joins one of the seven different unions (Miners, Clerks, Federal Labor, Meat Cutters, Carpenters, Bartenders, and Brickmakers), making it a completely unionized town.

1904
Fire in Mine No. 8 begins on June 3 and burns until June 19.

Erath County voters choose prohibition of sale and consumption of alcohol, leading Snake Saloon to be rebuilt just across the county line in "wet" Palo Pinto County, June 11.

William K. Gordon's daughter, Margie Kearby Gordon is born on October 10.

1905
William K. Gordon's daughter, Margie Kearby Gordon, dies, June 15

1906
Texas and Pacific Coal Company builds a new school on the Thurber quadrangle

Baseball park established and fenced the next year

1907
Fire destroys the Knox Hotel, April 25

William K. Gordon's daughter, Louise Kearby Gordon, is born, November 1

Shaft No. 12 becomes operational

Shaft No. 7 closes, leaving Nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 in production

1908
Shaft New No. 1 becomes operational

Ice plant is enlarged and power plant with still surviving 148-foot smokestack is erected

Henry Ford introduces the first Model T Ford automobile

One-fifth of all coal mined in the U.S. is used by trains.

1909
Texas and Pacific Coal Company begin erecting houses on Cemetery Hill, summer.

Texas and Pacific Coal Company build a black church at the base of New York Hill.

1910
Mexican Revolution begins, leading to large-scale refugee migration into Texas, November.

Shaft New No. 2 becomes operational.

There are 2,500 miners working in Thurber.

Thurber mines supply half of all the soft coal mined in the U.S.

1911
Fire in Mine No. 9, June 27.

Shaft New No. 3 becomes operational.

1914
William W. Johnson dies in Mineral Wells, Texas, on October 14.

Shaft No. 8 is abandoned.

1915
William K. Gordon begins exploratory oil well drilling, January 7.

Shaft New No. 2 is abandoned, leaving Nos. 10, 11, 12, New No. 1, and New No. 3 in production.

1916
1914-16 union contract expires leaving workers idle for about one month, August.

To prevent a nationwide railroad strike, the Adamson Eight-Hour Act mandates an 8-hour workday in the railway industry, September 13.

1917
United States enters World War I, April 6.

J.H. McCleskey No. 1 Oil Well blows in, opening West Texas to petroleum production, October 17.

Gas replaces coal as fuel in the brick plant.

New Shaft No. 4, the last in Thurber, is completed but never put into production.

Thurber miners work overtime to supply all of the coal during the war.

1918
Name of company changes to become Texas and Pacific Coal and Oil Company, April 17.

National prohibition closes the Snake Saloon.

1919
Break in the dam for the Big Lake, January 24.

William K. Gordon's daughter, Louise Gordon, drowns in Palo Pinto Creek, June 30.

John Roby Penn takes the place of Edgar L. Marston as president of the Texas and Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

Shafts Nos. 11 and 12 are closed, leaving No. 10, New No. 1, and New No. 3 in production.

Texas and Pacific Coal and Oil Company install a modern water filtration plant.

1920
J.H. McCleskey No. 1 oil well is plugged and abandoned, May 30.

T & P Railroad changes from coal to crude oil as fuel for its locomotive engines. Thurber mines have no outside customers for their coal.

Production from the Ranger oil field estimated to be worth $100,000,000.

1921
Shaft New No. 1 is closed.

United Mine Workers strike unsuccessfully and the coal mines temporarily shut down; only Shaft No. 10 and New No. 3 remain in production, autumn.

The company will not grant pay raises for miners; the only coal being mined is for use in the brick plant.

Thousand of miners quit and move out of town.

The houses on Stump Hill are torn down or sold to be moved.

1922
Texas Pacific Oil and Coal Company incorporate a new subsidiary, the Thurber Pipe Line Company.

First Christian Church is struck by lightning and burns.

1923
Mines close but kept in readiness to be reopened at any time. The brick plant uses gas to fire kilns and boilers.

William K. Gordon resigns from Texas Pacific Oil and Coal Company, remaining on its board of directors.

Texas Pacific Oil and Coal Company offices move from New York to Thurber, Texas.

Catholic Academy closes.

1926
Last year that any coal is mined at Thurber; Shaft No. 10 closes.

Most of the houses on No. 3 Hill and Stump Hill are sold and removed.

Henry Ford introduces the 49-hour workweek in the automobile industry.

Only 800 people live in Thurber. Workers employed in the Brick plant, General Offices, or Company stores.

1927
Charles Lindbergh is the first person to fly alone from New York to Paris, May 21

Disused Shaft New No. 3, the last theoretically operable mine at Thurber, is shut down

Edgar J. Marston replaces John Roby Penn as president of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company

Last coal is taken out of mines.

1929
TP Aero gasoline station opens in Thurber.

1930
January: Brick plant closes.

Fire destroys the market, hardware store, and general offices, September 14.

1931
Bank panic leads 305 banks to close in September, with 522 more closings in October.

Brick plant reopens for two months, then closes permanently.

There are 270 families in Thurber.

1932
President Hoover orders the U.S. Army to remove 150,000 World War I veterans who had marched on Washington, D.C., to demand military bonuses due in 1945, July 28.

Edgar J. Marston resigns as president of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

Only 250 families live in the town.

1933
Company stores clear all stock from shelves at Thurber, July 1.

National prohibition is repealed on December 5.

General offices close and staff moves to Fort Worth, Texas.

Baptist Church burns.

Four-year liquidation of the brick plant begins.

1934
John Roby Penn reelected president of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, April 18.

William K. Gordon elected president of the board of directors of the Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company, May 23.

1935
Edgar L. Marston dies in Los Angeles, September 23.

Remaining Thurber schools close and students go to Strawn, Texas, for classes.

1936
The post office closes in Thurber, which begins receiving mail by rural delivery, November 30.

1937
Brick plant smokestack, erected in 1898, is dynamited in the liquidation of kilns, March 29.

Thurber Old Settlers Association forms, July 4.

St. Barbara's Catholic Church is moved to Mingus.

Thurber abandoned.

1961
Caroll M. Bennett (President of T & P Coal) purchases the townsite and surrounding property from the company.

1971
The Bennett Family starts the original Smokestack Restaurant built in the old drugstore.

1981
January: The Smokestack Restaurant celebrates its 10th anniversary.

1991
January: The Smokestack Restaurant celebrates its 20th anniversary.

1992
January 15: The Smokestack Restaurant closes due to fire.

May: Bennett Family renovates the T&P Mercantile Building and opens the current Smokestack Restaurant.

2001
January: The Smokestack Restaurant celebrates its 30th anniversary.

2011

January: The Smokestack Restaurant celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Sources:

H.D. Langham, The Thurber Journal, 1993

Dr. Ken Jones, Dick Smith Library, Tarleton State University

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