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Writer,Quilt maker,Folkartist, from Freestone County, Tx.


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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Black Threads: Apply for a Quilt Research Grant from the AQSG

Black Threads: Apply for a Quilt Research Grant from the AQSG: AQSG Office in Nebraska The application deadline for the Lucy Hilty Research Grant and the Meredith Scholar Award is February 1, 2013....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

WORTHAM, TEXAS - OILBOOM TOWN / LONE STAR BRAGGIN' RIGHTS: Freestone County,Texas Culture and History documented on cloth.

Family of :
Simmons,Thomas LeRoy (Roy) 
1st Mayor of Wortham, Texas
by Mrs. Mildred Simmons, History of Freestone County, 
Story #749, volume I, pages 572-73. 


 Wortham  "Oil Boom Days"

"The town of Wortham was transformed overnight. The population rose from 1,000 
to some 35,000 at the height of the boom in 1925."

Thomas Roy Simmons was the first mayor Wortham, (Texas) and operated Simmons Dry Goods Store. His son E.R. Simmons is listed on Lone Star Braggin' Rights reversible story quilt at QR4 / Block XVI.

Row 4 / Block XVI

*( corner names )

H. H. Covington
Mrs. H. H. Covington
Mrs. McNeil Drumwright
Mr. McNeil Drumwright
Bonnie Cox
Claire Drumwright
E. R. Simmons
Roy Dean Simmons
Mrs. E. R. Simmons (Sallejo)

Mrs. C. R. Owens
Mrs. V. L.  Hippel
Mrs. J. C. Hippel
Mrs. R. W. James or (Jones)?
Mrs. W. W. Wolfe
Mrs. A. L. George
Mrs. Katie Rux
T. H. Neyland
John Harvey
C. B. Miller
Mrs. Joe Beyers


"The city of Wortham rejected a well drilled by C.L.Witherspoon in 1912 when it produced gas, not water.  However, oil and gas wells in 1919-23 gave prosperity to neighbors north and south, and petroleum exploration began here.  Discovery well for the Wortham field, Roy Simmons No.1 ( 1 mile south), came in as a gusher on November 27, 1924.  Within three weeks over 300 drilling rigs were in the field.  3,509,768 barrels of oil were produced in January 1925; total for the year was 16,838,150 barrels.   (Location Wortham City Park __ Wortham, Texas)

Wasteful drilling slowed yield to 3, 000 barrels a day by September, 1927, and the boom concluded - 1972...."

Drawing of a 1920s oil well rig setup.



"Roy Simmons, son of Hamilton Franklin (H.F.) Simmons and Anora Means Simmons, was born in a log cabin on the Cotton Gin farm purchased by his grandmother, Mrs. Lucy E. Simmons, September 18, 1868. The cabin where he was born On March 16, 1876, was located one-half mile east of the Cotton Gin cemetery, and was destroyed by a cyclone in the 1920s.
Roy Simmons was educated in the Mexia Public Schools and graduated at the age of 14. His mother, Anora Means Simmons, had graduated from Trinity College in Tehuncana, which later became Westminister College, and was well prepared to tutor him in preparation for attending Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Roy graduated from Austin College where he was Captain of his Military Company and received medals in oratory.
In 1900, Roy joined his father, H.F. Simmons, in establishing the Simmons Dry Goods Company in Wortham.  The firm prospered and branch stores were established in Coolidge, Malone, Streetman and Quanah.  On March 17, 1901 he married Kate Page Moseley of Mexia.  The Moseley family had migrated to Texas from Bucking ham County, Virginia in the middle eighteen hundreds.
Two sons, Ed Roy Simmons, and Franklin Page Simmons were born to the union: Ed Roy  on December 24, 1901 and Franklin on August 2, 1907.  Mr. Roy Simmons was Wortham's first Mayor.  He was a devoted Christian and served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Wortham, beginning in his early twenties.
It was on the Simmons land in Wortham that the first oil well was discovered on Thanksgiving day in 1924.  This marked a turning point in a peaceful little town.  Roy Simmons befriended many people during the Wortham oil boom and generously shared his new found fortune with others.
He was fatally injured in an automobile crash in Ennis, Texas on May 27, 1941. Mrs. Simmons continued to live in Wortham until her death in February of 1971.  Five weeks after her death, her eldest son, Ed Roy, (QR4 / Block XVI ), who practiced law in Mexia , died.  At the time of  Ed Roy's death, his wife Sallejo Simmons and he were living on the Cotton Gin farm.  The farm at   Cotton Gin, the site of the log cabin in which Roy Simmons was born, is now owned by Franklin Simmons and his wife, Mildred Wolters Simmons.  It has been a cattle ranch for the past twenty-five years and is operated as such at this time."

" Franklin's eyes light up (Roy's youngest son) ...when he speaks of his father and he delights in telling tales about his childhood.  In the early days of the Dry Goods store, people would trade eggs, milk, chickens or anything that they could with Roy Simmons for clothing.  A chicken pen was built behind the store building for the chickens, and a cream separator was set up in the back of the store to separate the milk from the cream.
After the discovery of oil, and during the days when so many people moved to Wortham without housing, many of them would stay in the store as long as possible to keep warm in the winter.  Often, Roy would give them a $1.00 bill at midnight to enable them to rent a cot in the tent hotels that were set up near the depot, and to enable him to go home after a very long day.
The changes brought about by the boom were taken in stride by Roy Simmons, and he contributed a great deal to the early history of the City of Wortham, and left a rich heritage to his family....."

Simmons, Ed Roy and Sallejo 
by Roy Simmons, 
History of Freestone County, volume II,
 story #777, pages 461-62

(QR 4 / Block XVI )
"Ed Roy Simmons worked with his father, Roy Simmons, at Simmons Dry Goods Co. and in the oil business after the first oil well in the Wortham Oil Boom came in in 1925 and had the Ford Automobile Agency in Oakwood, Texas.  He was an officer in the Teague National Bank, which later merged to become the First National Bank of Teague, Texas, and he also had a drug store in Teague during this period with Clydell McSpadden.
In 1931 and 1932, Ed Roy Simmons lived in Coolidge, Texas and studied law and was associated with the Southern Cotton Association.  In 1933 he returned to Teague, Texas and operated a private law practice as well as being the City Attorney for Teague until 1936 when he moved to Austin, Texas to assume duties as Assistant Attorney General as head of oil, gas, and transportation division of the Attorney General's office under Gerald Mann.  Ed Roy had a distinguished career while head of oil and gas division, with original significant cases before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Texas and winning valuable rights for Texas and the power of the Texas Railroad Commission to regulate oil and gas activities.  Mr. Simmons handled Beauford Jester's campaign for Governor in 1941 and later joined Mr. Jester's law firm, in Corsicana after Beauford Jester was elected Governor.
In 1952 the Simmons family moved back to his home place on Hwy. 84, near Cotton Gin, Freestone County, Texas and he began practicing law in Mexia in 1954.  Mr Simmons continued his law practice in Mexia until death on February 12, 1971 at his home near Cotton Gin....." 


Simmons, Franklin Page
 by Cynthia Simmons Gage and Karla Simmons Alexander,
 History of Freestone County, Texas, Volume II, story #778, page 462 
"Franklin Page Simmons was born the younger son of Thomas Leroy (Roy) Simmons and Kate Page Moseley Simmons on August 2, 1907, at home in Wortham, Texas.  He attended school in Wortham and graduated from Wortham High School in 1924.  Franklin loved sports and played on the first football team ever fielded at Wortham High.  He also play second base for the baseball team, and was alleged to be pretty good.  That's when his older brother Ed Roy gave him the nickname "Bucky" after Bucky Harris, the famous second baseman with the Washington Senators.  The nickname remained with him all of his life.  After high school graduation, Franklin attended Schreiner Institute in Kerrville.
Thanksgiving Day of 1924 was a day that Franklin Simmons never forgot.  On that day oil was discovered on the Simmons property and marked the beginning of the oil boom in Wortham.  It changed life in Wortham for several years.  Franklin's parents owned Simmons Dry Goods Store, opened in 1900, in Wortham.  Business picked up considerably after oil was discovered.  During boom days there were as many as 27 clerks working the store.  In later years Frank loved to tell stories of the boom days.  He told his children of a typical Saturday at the store.  There were so many in town that you couldn't walk down the street.  People would come looking for work in the oil fields and when they arrived, had no place to go and no money.  On Saturday night the store stayed open until midnight, and 12 to 15 people would be sitting around the fire trying to keep warm.  Tent hotels were set up around town that charged $1 a night for a cot.  Franklin said that when his father closed the store, he would give each person a dollar so that they could have a place to stay and a way to keep warm.
Franklin's first business venture began when he was 15 years old.  He bought ice cream and cold drinks from a man in Mexia and made a stand from wooden crates.  The ice cream came in five gallon containers and was packed in a wooden barrel with ice around the sides.  While sell the ice cream, he packed cold drinks down in the ice.  Everyone thought that that was really something and he had quite a business.
He and a friend, Robert James Poindexter, also operated an amateur radio station for a short while in Wortham.  They broadcast live with stories, songs and news.
Franklin moved to Dallas in 1931, with his wife, the former Waurine Dearing, and children, Franklin Page, Jr., and Nancy Katherine.  He was in the oil business, associated  with Royal Petroleum Oil Company.  He remained in Dallas until May of 1941, when his father, Roy, was killed in an auto-train accident in Ennis.  Franklin moved home to help his mother operate the dry goods store and raise cattle on the family ranch in Cotton Gin.
On November 6, 1942, he married Mildred Marie Wolters in Dallas and brought her to Wortham where they made their home for the next forty years.  Franklin and Mildred had two daughters, Karla Page in July, 1945 and Cynthia Marie in October, 1952.  Following their marriage they continued to operate Simmons Dry Goods and in 1951 opened  a new store, SIMMONS, at the other end of Main Street.  This was primarily a gift and apparel store that operated until they sold it and retired in 1977.  Franklin continued his cattle ranching on the land where his father was born until his death on April 3, 1982.
Both Franklin and Mildred were very active in church and community affairs.  Franklin was an elder in the Central Presbyterian Church and served as Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years.  He was an active member and served as president of the Wortham Loins Club.  Franklin was instrumental in organizing the Wortham Ex-Students Association and was chosen as its first president.  Franklin served on the Wortham City Council for 27 years.  He was also a director in the First National Bank of Teague.  He was a Mason and a member of Karen Temple in Waco.  In 1978, he was honored for his 50 years as a Shriner.
Franklin was a faithful Christian who will always be remembered lovingly by his family and friends as a generous and good person.  He died in 1982 in the same house in which he was born, having been preceded in death by his mother and brother...." 

In October 2013, ( 89 years into the future) , the year of the writing of this particular blog post....Wortham, Texas, is once again a sleepy,drowsy, quiet, Texas country small town.  It takes quite the imagination to visualize the busy, bustling activity which was once an integral part of its landscape and makeup, with the coming of the discovery of oil, in November, 1924.  If it were not for books like History of Freestone County, Texas, volumes I and II , plus this wonderful old signature quilt created by the citizens of Teague, Texas....

"who would have ever known or guessed its interesting and intriguing history."

Sherry Ann 


Good Reading materials on Texas Oil History


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