Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Generosity of the John G. Hardin Family

The life of John G. Hardin was typical of many Texans who came to the state with little or nothing and remained for the rest of their lives. John G. Hardin was born in the Mississippi in 1854. His family relocated to Tennessee shortly thereafter. When he reached the age of 21, he came to Texas on a visit with his father. His father returned to Tennessee while John remained.

Educated in Tennessee as a schoolteacher, he soon found employment on a farm in Johnson County and also taught school. His first wife was the former Susan Cordelia Adams who had been a student of his in one of his early classes. For a few years, they lived near Cleburne before relocating to what is now Wichita County. In addition to farming their small 127 acre site, they operated a general store not far from the Red River. Their first home was a dugout occupied by the couple, Susan’s mother and their young daughter Dovie Eugene. It was not an easy life. Dovie would die in 1881 before she reached age three. Two years later, John and Cordelia’s unnamed infant son died, and was followed by Cordelia who died a week later. All three are buried in Burkburnett Memorial Cemetery in Wichita County.

In 1888, Hardin would go on to marry the former Mary Catherine Funk. The couple continued to live and prosper, accumulating land holdings of some 6,000 acres. Around 1918, the oil boom reached the Burkburnett area. Noted for their generosity, the couple reportedly forgave numerous mortgages that they held securing farms and ranches in the Burkburnett area so that the borrowers also could benefit from their own oil income. The Hardins also funded local area parks, churches and schools also benefiting Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton, Abilene Christian College, McMurray and Howard Payne College. They also donated funds to Buckner Baptist Children’s Home in Dallas and were instrumental in the establishment of Hardin College, a four year school now known as Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.

The story of the Hardin-Simmons contribution is told by former university president Jefferson Davis Sandefer. He had become acquainted with the Hardins as early as 1923 and approached them about supporting the university, then known as Simmons University. The couple had previously made Buckner Baptist Children’s Home and Baylor contributions and Sandefer felt it was appropriate to contact them on behalf of Simmons, presenting to them the accomplishments and religious orientation of the school. The Hardins were impressed and eventually donated almost one million dollars to the school at a time when the funds were sorely needed. In recognition of the gifts, “on its own initiative and with out the knowledge of Mr. and Mrs. Hardin” the school’s board of directors voted to change the name of the university to Hardin Simmons University.

Mary Hardin died in 1936 at the age 76. John Hardin followed her in death in 1937 and is buried with the rest of the family in Burkburnett Memorial Cemetery. The Hardin’s philanthropy continues to provide benefits to others.

[Paul Mosley narrates this post here.]

© 2015, all rights reserved.

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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in biography


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How the Interurban worked

With apologies in advance to electrical engineers who may read this, the Interurban ran on electricity.  More specifically, it ran on direct current.

The power to weight ratio measures the power output generated by a system as it relates to the weight of the vehicle.  The power to weight ratio is greater for electric trains is greater than that of steam or diesel trains, primarily because electric trains are not required to carry fuel as the other trains must do. Because its weight is less as it relates to the power of the motor, the acceleration of an electric train is better. Typically, streetcars in the US run on 600 to 750 volts of power.  In the early to mid 1900s the industry standard was 600 volts. The Texas Electric Railway trains ran on 1200 volts on their longer runs, such as Dallas to Waco and 600 volts in the urban areas.

Electricity was supplied to the Interurban cars via overhead trolley wires that the cars touched by means of a trolley pole or pantograph. There was a trolley pole at each end of each car.  Contemporary systems instead use an electrified third rail rather than the pantograph.

Current was supplied by converter stations placed 8 to 10 miles apart for a 600 volt line.  Twice that distance could be used for a 1200 volt line.  The overhead copper cables were thick in order to reduce the resistance as the current traveled through the line.  The trolley wire made contact with the cable by touching it and was kept in contact by being spring loaded.  There was a pantograph at each end of each car.  The current was delivered to the wheel assembly containing the electric motors which propelled the cars.  The circuit was completed as the current traveled from the cable, through the cars and finally to the rails.  It would be considered an environmentally friendly system today, although the rotary converters in the converter stations gave off a considerable amount of heat.  Though the cars themselves had no air conditioning system during the hot Texas summers, they were fitted with electric heaters in the winter.

Though the system has been updated, contemporary electric rail systems daily use all over the world still function according the same basic technological principles, though considerably refined.

© 2015, all rights reserved.

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in interurban


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Burkburnett, Texas

Legend has it that the town of Burkburnett in Wichita County was named by President Teddy Roosevelt upon visiting the area for a wolf hunt at the invitation of rancher Samuel Burk Burnett. Roosevelt reportedly named the post office for Burnett, the founder of the 6666 Ranch.

The area was settled by ranchers before the Civil War and was also historically inhabited by Native American Caddoan Indians, namely the Wichitas and Taovoyas, along with the Apaches and Commanches. At various times, settlements went by the names of Nesterville and Gilbert until the 1900s when Burnett sold some of his acreage to developers including Frank Kell and Joseph Kemp. The community took a firm foothold and the surnames Kell, Kemp and Burnett are familiar to Wichita County residents today.

With the economic benefit provided by the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway, development took hold. It was further encouraged by the discovery of oil west of town in 1912. The 1940 MGM adventure film Boom Town is based on the James Edward Grant fictional story “A Lady Comes to Burkburnett” and starred Clark Game, Spencer Tracy, Claudette Colbert, Hedy Lamarr and Chill Wills. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and was reportedly the highest grossing Clark Gable film exceeded only by Gone with the Wind.

Wichita County was established by an act of the Texas Legislature in 1858. The current City of Burkburnett was incorporated in 1923 and is located at coordinates 34°4′58″N 98°34′6″W.

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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in town names


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January 26, 2015 Ceremony Honoring Mirabeau B. Lamar

Please see the above link regarding a ceremony honoring Pres. Mirabeau B. Lamar (August 16, 1798 – December 19, 1859), the third President of the Republic of Texas.

The ceremony will be at the grave of President Mirabeau B. Lamar in the Morton Cemetery, located just north of downtown Richmond, Texas.

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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Col. John F. Strickland, 1860-1921

From The Courier-Gazette, McKinney, TX 21 May 1921:

J. F. Strickland Drops Dead in Dallas Home:

J. F. Strickland, long prominent in business circles in this city and State, dropped dead at his home, 3705 Rawlins street, Oak Lawn, this morning shortly before 10 o’clock.

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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in biography, interurban


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The Interurban

If you were living in Waco in 1913, you could have read an article in the Waco Morning News on October 29, 1913 announcing a new rail line, the Interurban. It was the final extension in one large system, part of the Texas Electric Railway.

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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in interurban


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Sam Houston Tribute, by Rufus Columbus Burleson 3/2/1893

Sam Houston was the 7th Governor of Texas, serving from December 21, 1859 to March 18, 1861.

Rufus Burleson personally knew General Sam Houston and was asked to address the Texas Legislature on March 2, 1893 at the memorial service commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gen. Houston, the same date memorializing the 57th year of Texas Independence. Burleson’s entire address amounts to some 40 pages of his memoirs, “The Life and Writings of Rufus Columbus Burleson.” Presented below is the conclusion of his address. His admiration for Gen. Houston is clearly evident. At this point in Burleson’s account, Houston had failed in his effort to prevent the succession of Texas from the Union, been ousted as Governor of the state that he so loved and the Civil War had begun.

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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in biography, governor, sam houston


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