Thursday, September 3, 2009
Labor Day in Thurber, Texas
The Texas Pacific Coal Company in 1888 bought out the Johnson Coal Company in northwestern Erath County at what was then the village of Johnson Mines. Robert Dickey Hunter, president of the Texas Pacific Coal Company, renamed the town Thurber in honor of H.K. Thurber, a New York investor in the company. At this time, Thurber was a company town, meaning that workers were paid in company script, which could only be redeemed at the company store and there were no unions.The majority of the miners were European from Italy and Poland as well as thirteen other countries. Relations between the workforce and management had always been strained. In 1903, the United Mine Workers successfully organized the miners and all other trades in Thurber. Other trades and crafts unionized included the Thurber Brick Plant, meat cutters, clerks, and bartenders. While still a company town Thurber was now 100% union. At its peak, Thurber boasted a population of 10,000 residents.
Pictured is the Queen’s float from the 1908 Labor Day Parade. The Woman seated on the left is Blanche Kessler, who delivered the Labor Day speech that year.
(Photo courtesy of the W. K. Gordon Center for the Industrial History of Texas)