Thompson, W.E. Papers
Processed by: Gomez, Erik
Date Processed: 10/1999
W. Ernest Thompson was born on March 24, 1978 in Fairfield, Texas. Raised in Hillsboro, Thompson graduated from Southwestern University in 1898 and attended the University of Texas Law School. He wrote various articles that appeared in several local and university periodicals such as the Houston Tribune and Southwestern University Monthly. Thompson also wrote biographies for other periodicals such as the Texas Bar Journal and Southwestern Historical Quarterly and achieved a local reputation as a writer. Thompson’s best-known achievement is his historical study, From the Grass Roots A Land Man’s Story, which describes the evolution of land and farm mortgage patterns in Texas from the 1880s to 1947. His book represents the product of a professional career in the land business, in which Thompson was active for over 65 years as a mortgage banker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian land appraiser, and real estate broker. Thompson served with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in public relations, working with 37 counties in southeast Texas. He was also a member of the Sons of the Republic of Texas and the Texas Land Title Association. Loyal to his Alma Mater, Thompson corresponded frequently with President Fleming at Southwestern University and maintained a strong interest in the university’s history.
Outgoing & incoming correspondence, a written reminiscence, and newspaper clipping articles both by and about him portray the interests, memories, and biographical information of W. E. Thompson (158 items). The first correspondence series is organized in five folders by subject. The first two folders concern his contact with former Southwestern University President, Dr. Durwood Fleming (108 items). They include outgoing & incoming correspondence relating daily events and news, invitations, friendly wishes, Thompson’s memories of his days as a Southwestern student, and his authored works. Additionally, Thompson occasionally attaches copies of correspondence with others for Fleming’s knowledge. The third folder holds correspondence specifically about his written works, authored articles, etc. (35 items). It includes outgoing and incoming correspondence related to requests for Thompson’s writing skills and historic knowledge as well as commentary on his articles and book, From the Grass Roots. Some of the correspondence in the third folder has biographical documents and/or small pieces of poetry by Thompson attached. The fourth folder focuses on the Texas Land Title Association and the Federal Housing Administration (8 items). Included here are incoming and outgoing letters about a Texas Land Title Association meeting at which Thompson was asked to be a guest speaker, plus letters to and from the FHA referring to a debate held between the San Jacinto and Alamo Societies. The fifth and final folder holds miscellaneous letters (7 items). It includes outgoing and incoming correspondence with White House employee Joe B. Frantz, as well as a cover letter to a list of Southwestern University graduates from 1885-1903, which is filed in the SU History series of the Thompson collection.
A second correspondence series of two folders contains the correspondence of Reverend Joseph D. Thomas and Sanford Reed (44 items). The first folder deals with Thomas (22 items), including incoming and outgoing letters with President Fleming on subjects such as the Pastors School at Southwestern University, the taping of Thomas’ life history, and the historical events of his life. Thomas writes much about his memories of Southwestern, and his correspondence to Fleming includes Episodes of his experiences as an SU student. The second folder has incoming and outgoing correspondence addressed to Reed (22 items). It includes correspondence concerning Allan K. Ragsdale and personal letters between Reed and Thompson commenting on each other’s writings and exchanging memories.
Following the two correspondence series is a third series related to the history of Southwestern University. This is the final series of the Thompson collection. It consists of four folders of newspaper clippings, historical documents, historical publications, written historical accounts, biographical documents, and photograph/slide media (55 items). Newspaper clippings, historical documents and publications are located in the first folder (42 items). Included in this folder are sketches of buildings on the SU campus and in Georgetown, a copy of the program for The Legend of the Bell sponsored by the 1927 SU Senior class, a clipping promoting Southwestern University from the 1904 Southwest Texas Conference Journal, copies of articles from Southwestern University Monthly, copies of an excerpt from the 1839 Twentieth Annual Report of the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church, a clipping from a 1958 edition of the Houston Chronicle of a picture of Dr. Hyer with faculty members around a prototype version of the X-ray, a copy of the souvenir booklet celebrating the 1944 Southwestern University Commencement Exercises, and the list of SU graduates between 1885 and 1903. The second folder includes written historical accounts of SU student experiences as remembered by Rev. J. Thomas and W. E. Thompson (2 items). Thomas’ written account relates the mischief of the SU Prep Glee Club and describes noted personalities at Southwestern such as Dr. Hyer, Dr. McGinnis, Dr. Mouzon, Dr. John Hicks, Dr. Barcus, J. Frank Dobie and Y. Switzer. Thompson’s account is somewhat broader and includes recollections of various buildings, residence halls, classrooms, literary societies, fashions, customs, forms of entertainment, well-known pranks, and faculty members. The third folder contains newspaper clippings both by and about Thompson (7 items). Of especial note in this folder are a 1968 SU Megaphone picture of Thompson as an old graduate at an alumni celebration, an article from an October 1966 edition of the Houston Tribune written by Thompson about a boy’s dream of joining the Army in 1893, and an article from a September 1969 edition of the Houston Post written about Thompson’s experience as a writer after the publishing of his book, From the Grass Roots. The fourth folder of this section holds photographs and slides of both figures in SU history and of Thompson (4 items). Two of the items are slides of Hyer and the x-ray machine and of the SU faculty members of 1898, while the two photographs are both of Thompson, one with his wife Bettie, and one of him at the age of 91.
The Thompson Correspondence Series, 1939, 1961 - 1973 (158 items)
1.1 Southwestern University President, Dr. Durwood Fleming (outgoing & incoming), June 20, 1961 - November 12, 1970
1.2 Southwestern University President, Dr. Durwood Fleming (outgoing & incoming), May 2, 1971 - July 3, 1973
1.3 Various individuals concerning his articles, written works, etc. (outgoing & incoming), January 29, 1964 - September 20, 1973
Biographical documents of Thompson (Marriage license)
1.4 Texas Land Title Association and FHA contact letters (outgoing & incoming), September 24, 1965, May 1, 1939 - May 8, 1939
1.5 Miscellaneous (incoming), May 3, 1939, July 17, 1968 - September 13, 1968
The Non-Thompson Correspondence Series, 1964 - 1970, 1973 (44 items)
1.6 Reverend Joseph D. Thomas (outgoing & incoming), July 14, 1964 - January 30, 1973
1.7 Sanford Reed (all incoming except 1 outgoing), October 31, 1969 - July 1, 1970, July 9, 1965
Allan K. Ragsdale Academic Report Cards (Feb. 1886 - March 1887)
The History of Southwestern University Series, 1839, 1874, 1897-1898, 1904, 1909, 1912, 1927, 1944, 1956, 1961, 1966-1969, 1970, 1972-1973 & N.D. (55 items)
1.8 Publications, Clippings, & Newspaper photographs, assorted dates ranging from the early 1850s and 1860s to the early 1970s
Book, Martin Ruter: Pioneer in Methodist Education by John O. Gross; booklet, Southwestern University Graduation Commencement invitation for 1943-1944 (w/photographs-campus buildings and grounds); list, SU graduates between 1885 and 1903
1.9 Written Accounts and Historical Experiences of Rev. J. Thomas and W. E. Thompson as SU students, October 27, 1970 and February 21, 1972
1.10 Biographical Items of W. E. Thompson, assorted dates between 1898 and July 1, 1970
Newspaper clippings; articles authored by Thompson (page 4 clipping of 9/6/68 Megaphone newspaper separated from 2 photos, see Photographs and Slides file)
1.11 Photographs of Thompson and Slides relating to history of SU, 1968-1969 (dates of photographs), and 1898 & N.D. (dates of slides)
Slide, Hyer x-ray machine; slide, SU faculty in 1898; photograph, b/w, W. E. Thompson and wife Bettie; photograph, b/w, W. E. Thompson, age 91 (both photographs separated from page 4 clipping of 9/8/68 Megaphone clipping, see Biographical items of W. E. Thompson file)