Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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and his friends predict for him a brilliant future.

James M. Blankenship was born in Macon county,
Tennessee, September 21, 1882, the youngest of five
sons and one daughter, born to S. S. M. and Kathrine
(White) Blankenship. Both parents were natives of
Tennessee, and are still living, the father at the age of
seventy-two, and the mother aged seventy-three. The
father by. occupation has been a farmer. During the
Civil war he enlisted in the Ninth Kentucky Regiment,
and though wounded at the battle of Murfreesboro,
continued on as a soldier until the end of the struggle.

Mr. BlnnkcTi'hip n« a \>m- attended school in both
Knitiirkv ,-nnl Trmic-r,.. .-iihl :ic.|iiiiv.l a liberal educa-

C..II,-.', :iii"l Ik. Ill I lie Suiii lirni .XniiiKd School of Ken-
til. ■k\ witli til.' ilegrec of Bachelor of Science in 1904,
an. I with 111.' A. B. degree in 1906. From Cumberland'
Uiii\.TMiv li.' graduated in law in 1907. In the latter
yeiir hi' .■.iiiii' to Texas to take up the active work of
his profession, first locating at Dallas, where he re-
mained six months, and for fifteen months was at Pilot
Point. In March, 1910, he established himself in
Wichita Falls, and since that time has become known as
one of the most skillful younger members of the local
bar. He has a general practice, and his business is
increasing with every year.

FratcriKillv ^rr. P.binkni^hip is nffilinted with the
Woodmen ..f tli.. \V,.rl.i. th.' 1 ii.l,.]..-.ii.l.'iit ()v.l.-.r of Odd
Fellows, ii.i.l tl..' l;.'n.'N..|,.i,i ;,i,.| I■l■,.t.'.•tl^.' Order of

Elks-. Ill |...liti.'s li.. I- 11 n.'i -rat. At Wi.hita Falls

on June IH, 1912, lie iiiarne.i .Miss N.'lli.' Wiii.l. a daugh-
ter of Mr. and Mrs. .1. C. War.l of Wi.-lnrii Falls, and
has been identifie.l with Wi.hita Fall^ t..i iieiuy years.
Mr. and Mrs. Blankenshi]. have one uiii. Aniie Ruth,
born July 20, 1913. He is very fon.l of outdoor life
and sports, and he and his wife move in the best social
circles of Wichita Falls.



1976



TEXAS AND TEXANS



a large circle of warm
he other sections where



Thomas Benton Pruett. No man bears a finer rec-
ord in Peeos and Eeeves county, Texas, than Thomas
Benton Pruett, one of the most prominent business men
in this section. He was one of the early settlers of this
region, and as one of the pioneer lumbermen did much
for the development of the country around Pecos. He
is now the head of one of the largest lumber concerns
in western Texas, and is considered one of the most influ-
ential men in the business world of this section. But
his success in business is not what has given him his
wide popularity, it is rather the way in which he has
earned this prosperity, for no more honorable career can
be pointed to than Mr. Pruett 's. He has the highest
reputation for honor and integrity and possesses the con-
fidence of the entire business world, for he has never
been known to conduct a business deal in anything but
the most honorable way. His geniality and ability to
make friends has won for
friends both in Peeos and
he has lived.

Thomas Benton Pruett was born on the 7th of Janu-
ary, 1855, in White county, Arkansas. His father, Ben-
jamin H. Pruett, was born in Kentucky. He lived there
until after his marriage to Nancy McBride, who was
also a native of Kentucky and in 1849 they removed
to White county, Arkansas. Here Mr. Pruett became
fairly successful as a farmer, dying in 1892. He was
born in 1808 and was eighty-four years of age at the
time of his death. Mrs. Pruett, who was born in 1817
lived until 1898, when she died at the age of eighty-one.

Nine children were born to Benjamin Pruett and his
wife, and five of this number are deceased. In addition
to Thomas B. Pruett, those living are Phillip H. Pruett,
who is a prominent stock man of Alpine, Texas; James
B. Pruett, who is engaged in farming in Hopkins county,
Texas, and Diana, who is the wife of W. W. Hinson, of
Alpine, Texas.

Thomas B. Pruett was the next to the youngest child
and the education which he received was very meager,
amounting to twelve months in all. Even this
little schooling, which was had in the private school
of White county, Arkansas, was received at the rate of
two months a year. Not only were the country schools
of the poorest but it was a hard struggle for existence
in those days and children had to get what education
they could and be thankful for it. no matter how little
it was. At the age of eighteen he began farming in
WTiite county, and for fourteen years followed this occu-
pation. During this period, in September, 1874, he was
married to Miss Minerva Hammons, who was born in
White county, Arkansas. In 1887 he sold his farm and
moved to Texas where he located at Fort Davis. Here
he went into the mercantile business and became very
successful. He preferred the farm, however, and so after
a time sold his business to good advantage and moved
to Fannin county, Texas, where he bought a farm
and settled down to the old life again. He lived here
for three years when his wife died, leaving him with
the care of a family of seven small children, the young-
est of whom died eight months after the death of the
mother. With six children to rear and educate and no
wife to help him. life looked pretty gray to ilr. Pruett
about this time, but he was not to be discouraged, and
so selling his farm in Fannin county he removed to
Mitchell county, Texas, where he farmed for a year.

It was in 1892 that he moved to Pecos and here his
real prosperity began. His first essay at business was
as the owner of a transfer and dravage business and
for four years he followed this line" successfully. He
then engaged in the lumber business, being one "of the
very first men to enter this field in this section. He
has been very successful' and between 1896 and 1905
established five lumber yards. These are located at
Pecos, Toyah, Barstow. Monahan and Grand Falls. In
1905 he organized the Pruett Lumber Company, having
previously been in business by himself. The capital was



twenty-five thousand dollars and in 1907 this capital
was increased to one hundred thousand dollars. He
served as president of the company for two years and
during this time has added three more yards to those
already in operation. The new yards are located at
Pyote, Saragossa and Balmorhea, Texas. He has con-
siderable capital invested in real estate in this section
of Texas, owning in addition to his fine home in Pecos,
four sections of land in Reeves county.

Mr. Pruett should be credited with the success of his
children as well as his own success for it is largely due
to his careful training and the good education which
he has given them that they are the successful and use-
ful men and women which they have become. The eldest,
Vida Pruett, is now the wife of the Eeverend Joel F.
Hedgpeth, the minister of the Methodist church in Pecos.
Tina is the widow of William Adams, who died in 1909
at Barstow, Texas, as the county clerk of Ward county,
and she now makes her home in Pecos. Verde Elmer
Pruett is the manager of one of the Pruett Lumber
Company's yards, located at Balmorhea, Texas. Mamie
married A. Graves Taggert, who is the bookkeeper of
the Pecos Mercantile Company at Pecos. Lilian Pruett
is a successful teacher of music at Pecos. Pear, the
youngest, married Charles Jorden, who is connected with
the Pecos Valley State Bank of Pecos.

In 1899 Mr. Pruett was married again, his wife being
Miss Mamie Taylor, the daughter of Ira and Mrs. A. O.
Taylor. Two children have been born to this union, as
follows, Ora, who is now twelve years old, and Thomas
Benton Pruett, Jr.

Mr. Pruett is -a member of the Methodist church, and
for twenty-one years has served as a steward in this
church. He is a member of the Ancient Free and Ac-
cepted Masons, being a Eoyal Arch Mason. He also
belongs to the Woodmen of the World.

F. S. Eberhart. a prominent attorney at Mineral
Wells, where he located in 1908, Mr. Eberhart began
practice in Texas in 1886, and has long had a high
standing as a lawyer and a public spirited citizen. His
position has been gained through his individual efforts,
and early in life he manifested talents fitting him for
a career of service both to himself and to his com-
munity.

F. S. Eberhart is a native of Georgia, where Mr.
Eberhart 's family has been a numerous and thrifty stock
since the early days. On his father 's side, Mr. Eberhart
is of German and Welsh descent, and his mother is of
English lineage. Nearly all the members of the family
were planters and slave holders before the war, and
were of that substantial stock upon whom the results
of the struggle bore most heavily. Mr. Eberhart was
born in Elberta county, January 9, 1862, a son of George
and Sarah Helen Eberhart. His father was a physician
and saw service in the Confederate army, first as a
surgeon, and later organized and became captain of a
company of his own. He and his company participated
in many of the battles in General Lee's army in Vir-
ginia, and he was in the struggle from the beginning
to the end. After the war his practice was resumed,
and was continued until his death at Hartwell in
Hart county, Georgia, in 1893. The mother died there
about 1901.' Three of the nine children are still living
and the Mineral Wells attorney was fourth in order of
birth. Two brothers, E. J. and H. H. Eberhart are
farmers in South Carolina. The grandfather of Mr.
Eberhart was a large planter and slave holder in
Georgia before the war.

F. S. Eberhart finished his early schooling in the
Hartwell high school in Georgia. Several years before
reaching his majority he came to Texas with Professor
M. V. Looney, who had been his former tutor, and
after reaching this state qualified as a teacher and
assisted Professor Looney in a school at Overton in
Rusk county, and later at Atlanta. His work as a



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1977



teacher was also continued at Madisonville, and in the
meantime having taken up the study of law, he pursued
it vigorously until admitted to the bar at Madisonville
on May 14, 1886. His first cases as a lawyer were ob-
tained in Cass county, and from there he moved to
Gilmer in 1892. Since 1908 Mr. Eberhart has be?n one
of the leading lawyers of Mineral Wells. Though a
stanch Democrat and often working privately in the in-
terests of his party, Mr. Eberhart has firmly declined
all proffers to enter polities for office or other honors,
and has given his best service in the capacity of a
lawyer and a public spirited citizen. Mr. Eberhart is
chairman of the board of directors of the Bank of Min-
eral Wells, is a Chapter Masou ami a member of the
Knights of I'ytliias, lu'lmi-s tn the Mineral Wells Com-
mercial Cliili, ;iihl IS a.tnf ill till' .Mi'thodist Episcopal
Church .Siiiitli, iiii'l sii|ii-riiitrii.lriit uf iis Sunday school.
On Decciubcr -i, 1&»'J. at Madisuuville, Texas, Mr.
Eberhart married Miss Lila Byers, a daughter of J. A.
and Zue A. Byers. Her father vsas born in Texas, was
a farmer throughout his active career, and during the
war served in the Confederate army along the coast.
Her mother came from Georgia, a daughter of Eobert
Westmoreland, who owned a large plantation and many
slaves in that state, and who came to Texas while the
war was still in progress. Mr. and Mrs. Eberhart have
one child, a daughter of Lila Maud, born September IS,
1900, and now attending school.

William H. Mekceb. The business position of Mr.
Mercer at Mineral Wells is that of superintendent of
the City Water Wbrks. That indicates only one phase
of his varied activities and his value as a social factor
in the community. Mr. Mercer is one of the prominent
Masons of North Texas, has long been active in com-
munity affairs, is a zealous worker for church and char-
ity, and is a man whose upright life has not only
brought him personally high esteem, but has resulted
in numberless acts of kindness and love to his fellow

William H. Mercer was born July 21, 1872, at Tehua-
cana, in Limestone county, Texas. It has always been a
matter of satisfaction to himself that he is a native
of Texas. His parents were Adiel S. and Julia (Hamil-
ton) Mercer, who came from Georgia to Texas in 1861,
locating at Towash in Hill county. His father, who was
a nephew of Professor Jesse Mercer, founder of Mer-
cer's University at Cartersville, Georgia, was a farmer
and stockman for many years, sold out his interests about
1900, and was engaged in the hotel business at Mineral
Wells until his death in February, 1910. The mother
is still living at Mineral Wells. There were ten chil-
dren in the family, six daughters and four sons, and
the oldest of these is William H.

His early life was spent on a farm, and his educa-
tion was liberal, and he was able to complete the
course at Trinity University at Tehuacana. A\Tiile as-
sisting his father he learned all the details of farming
and stock raising, but chose a business career. His
first position was as bookkeeper and manager for the
Eound Bale Cotton Company, a large concern operating
branch plants at Gatesville, Waco, Belton. and Houston.
In 1906 Mr. Mercer took a position as branch-house
manager for Swift & Co., Chicago, and for two years
was located at Abilene. From Abilene he came to
Mineral Wells, and has since been closely identified with
this great health resort and thriving commercial center.
His first two years of residence here were spent as man-
ager for the Mineral Wells Light, Power & Heating
Company. This was followed by his election and serv-
ice as city auditor, and general superintendent of the
city water works in 1908, and his attention has since
been closely directed to the large and responsible pub-
lic affairs entrusted to his charge. The water supply
of Mineral Wells comes from a large lake of seven hun-
dred acres situated across the hills west from the town.
Vol. n-— 25



The water is pumped through mains through the town
to a large standpipe, situated on an eminence east of
the city, and this standpipe gives a pressure of ei<>hty-
seven pounds to the square inch. It is soft water, and
of the highest quality for all purposes.

In politics Mr. Mercer has always voted and sup-
ported the Democratic ticket, and as a citizen has given
both intelligence and the most scrupulous integrity to
the discharge of all duties conferred upon him by his
community. His Masonic relations are as follows-
Member of the Blue Lodge at Mineral Wells, of which
he IS past master; past worthy patron of the Order of
the Eastern Star; past high priest of the Eoyal Arch
chapter; past illustrious master of the council of Eoyal
and Select Masters; a member of Dallas Consistory
No. 2, of the Scottish Eite; and member of Hella
Temple of the Mystic Shrine. Mr. Mercer is past ex-
alted ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of
Elks, and past chancellor commander of the Knights
of Pythias; past grand in the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows. He has long been interested in the work
of public charity :iii.l briH'volence. He is now presi-
dent of the Unit.. I 1 li.-intirs and Corrections of Min-
eral Wells. Hr I- iii.isniv, uf the Palo Pinto County
Fair Association, .-niil n .liicctor in the Mineral Wells
Commercial Club.

Jlr. Mercer is chaplain of the Volunteer Fire Depart-
ment, and since the death of his father has acted as
chaplain of the Stonewall Jackson Camp of Confed-
erate Veterans. His church membership is with the
Baptist denomination, in which he is a deacon and is
secretary and treasurer of the Sabbath school.

Mr. Mercer is a bachelor, has always regarded his
parents' home his own, and says that he has never
missed a birthday dinner or a Christmas dinner that
his mother has cooked or superintended during his life-
time. It is his intention to make Mineral Wells hig
permanent home, and his relations with this community
are of the most pleasant and agreeable kind, all his fel-
lows having the utmost confidence and respect for his
character and ability. Mr. Mercer has made himself the
particular friend and guardian of the young men of his
community. Wherever possible he endeavors to help
younger people both by advice and by practical assist-
ance. His favorite method of counseling his young
friends is the distribution of printed slips, which he al-
ways carries about him. and a quotation of the words
printed on one of these slips will indicate what he con-
siders practical ami insj.iring advice. The slip reads as
follows: "A man tlnit's rlean inside and out, who
neither looks up to the rirh or down to the poor, who
can lose without squealing and win without bragging,
who is considerate of women, children and old people,
who is too brave to lie, too generous to cheat, and
who takes his share of the world and lets others have
theirs. ' '

John Schmidt. More than thirty-five years have
passed since John Schmidt became identified with the
varied business interests of Nacogdoches, and during all
this period he has been known as one of its most pro-
gressive and reliable citizens. Time has but brightened
his reputation in business circles and his life here covers
one of tlic niiist iiii|.ni t.-int and interesting periods of the
history of lliis ]i:iii nf Trx.is. while there are few large
commercial ami imliistrial activities with which he is not
in some way or another connected. The sturdy German
element in our national commonwealth has been one of
the most important in furthering the substantial devel-
opment of the country, for this is an element signally
appreciative of practical values and also of the higher
intellectuality which transcends all provincial confines.
Mr. Schmidt is one who claims the Fatherland as the
place of his nativity, and in his life he has displayed
the strongest and best traits of character of the German
race. He was born November 14, 1856, at Boos, near



1978



TEXAS AND TEXANS



the city of Kreuznach, in Ehein prorince, Germany,
where his father, Philip Schmidt, was a farmer, and in
which locality his forefathers had lived for many gen-
erations. Philip Schmidt married Marguerite Coerper
and they became the parents of ten children, of whom
John was the fourth in order of birth. One other,
Jacob F., came to the United States.

John Schmidt attended the public schools until eleven
years of age and then became a student in the gymna-
sium, which corresponds with the American high school.
When he was fourteen years of age he entered upon his
business career, becoming an apprentice to the mercan-
tile business, and when three years had been thus spent
he came to the United States with his friend, Abram
Mayer. Mr. Schmidt secured employment in New York
City as a salary boy, and continued in that capacity for
three years, then coming to Texas, in 1S77, where he
secured a position as a clerk at Henderson. In the
meantime, his friend Mr. Mayer had come to Henderson,
Texas, in 1876, and in 1S7S Mr. Schmidt joined him
and imder the firm name of Mayer & Schmidt they
embarked in a small grocery business at Nacogdoches,
Texas, on March 15th of that year. Their first place
of business was located on the public square in a frame
building, on the west side, and there they remamed
nearly two years. They then moved to the north side
of the square and after another move located on Main
street, the present site, where in 1882 they built a large
mercantile house in order to accommodate their rapidly
growing trade. In 1908 this building was destroyed by
fire but in 1909 the present handsome structure, modern
in every detail, was erected. The firm drifted slightly
into the jobbing business with the country stores and
the firm finallv became in a measure a department store.
This was incorporated in 1909, capitalized at $75,000,
and the present officers are B. M. Isaacs, president;
H P Schmidt, vice president; C. C. Ehein, treasurer;
and Albert M. Brewer, secretary. In 1910 Mr. Schmidt
withdrew from this business.

Mr. Schmidt's outside interests have been large and
of a varied character. He was one of the promoters
of the Nacogdoches Grocery Company, and has been
president thereof for eight years; he aided in the organ-
ization of the Nacogdoches Oil Jlill Company and the
compress company here; is vice president and a director
of the Commercial Guaranty State Bank of Naeog_
doches; a director and vice president of the firm of
Cason, ]^Ionk & Company, hardware dealers; a director
of the Grain Furniture Company; president of the big
house of Mayer & Schmidt, at Tyler, Texas; a stock-
holder in the firm of Titche-Goettinger & Company, of
Dallas, and of Schwartz-Landauer Company, of Ballas,
the Guaranty and Trust Company, the Southwestern
Life Insurance Company of Dallas, the Fort Worth
Elevators Company of Fort Worth (of which he is also
vice president), the Lufkin National Bank, of Lufkin,
Texas, the Paunee Land and Lumber Company, of
Paunee, Louisiana, and the Wadel-Dickey Hardware
Company, of Tyler, Texas.

Mr. Schmidt's political activities have not been large.
He was a delegate to the famed "car-shed" convention
at Houston, when the democratic party split, and was
a Hogg supporter there. In 1892 he was an alternate
to the Democratic National Convention, when ilr. Cleve-
land was nominated the third time for the presidency.
He was a gold Democrat in 1896, when he supported
Palmer and Buckner, but voted for ilr. Bryan the next
two times. In addition he has served as alderman and
citv clerk of Nacogdoches for two years and has served
as 'school trustee here. In fraternal circles he is con-
nected with the Blue Lodge and Chapter of the Ma-
sonic fraternity, is a Pythian and an Elk, and also
belongs to the'Hoo Hoos. He is a life member of the
State Historical Society. He was reared in the faith
of the Lutheran Protestant church. Mr. Schmidt has
erected many residences of Nacogdoches adjacent to his



North street home and has also built numerous brick
stores here, including the postofiice building, with Mr.
Blount, and the block on Main street, between Church
and Fredonia streets. He also erected the Mayer-Schmidt
business house in Tyler and is one of the owners of a
four-story brick building m Dallas, at Main and Austin
streets. He is fond of travel and has visited his native
country on four different occasions, in 1887, 1899, 1907
and 1912.

On January 13, 1880, Mr. Schmidt was married in
Nacogdoches to Miss Elizabeth K. Voigt, a daughter
of a pioneer settler, Henry Voigt, who came from
Westphalia, German}-, to the United States in 1846.
He was a baker by trade and for some years was
engaged in business at Nacogdoches. There were four
children in the Voigt family: William F., who died
in 1888 in Nacogdoches, where at one time he served as
postmaster; Mrs. Mena Mergenthal, of Palestine, Texas;
Mrs. Elizabeth Schmidt ; and Mrs. Augusta Schuh, of
Tacoma, Washington. To Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt have
been born six children, as follows: Alice M., the wife
of W. F. Gintz, secretary of the Nacogdoches Grocery
Company; Philip Henry, who died in infancy; Louise,
who married C. C. Ehein, with the firm of Mayer &
Schmidt, Inc., of this city; Emma A., the wife of C. H.
Johnson, of Fort Worth; Herbert J., with the Nacog-
doches Grocery Company, married Maud Sloan ; and
August Carl, who is working for the Titche-Goettinger
Company, of Dallas.

T. S. ElCH^iRDS. Every one of the eight thousand in-
habitants of Mineral WeUs and many thousands of the
annual visitors to that famous resort know and esteem
the genial old pioneer Uncle Tom Eichards, proprietor
of the Star Wells. Mr. Eichards came to Mineral Wells
over thirty years ago, when its population was less than
one hundred people, and when the Wells had a repu-
tation only among the people living within that imme-
diate vicinity. Mr. Eichards bought and developed the
Star Well, and his enterprise and the many facilities
provided at his direction for the entertainment of vis-
itors have been a very important factor in making Mineral
Wells a resort city second to none in the southwest, and
the mecca for thousands of visitors every year.

T. S. Eichards was born July 30, 1830, in Troup
county Georgia, a son of T. S. and Elizabeth (Jordan)
Eichards. The Eichards family, of English descent,
was established in America during the colonial period
by the great-grandfather of the Mineral Wells citizens.
Grandfather was a soldier on the American side dur-
ing the Eevolutionary war, and came out of that
struggle with the rank of major. The military record
of the family goes back to the father of Mr. Eichards,



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 124 of 177)