Monday, July 18, 2016

Adventures in the Archives: Dean Davis' brand and his legacy

Adventures in the Archives continues... 

Photo of Dean Davis in Cross Timbers Historical Images Project
Recently, the Collections Archivist, Gary Spurr, located the personal brand of Dean J. Thomas Davis in a volume of the Erath County Record of Marks and Brands 1893 - 1943 (ERA 121). J. Thomas Davis became the dean of John Tarleton Agriculture College (JTAC) in 1919. For twenty-six years, he "guided the school through a period of unprecedented growth, prosperity, and prestige" (Chamberlin).  

Davis knew the importance of involving the community in the affairs of the college and therefore provided ways for the college to assist local farmers, as agriculture was the primary venture of the college at the time. An example of this partnership with the community was a new policy inviting community livestock owners to utilize the services of Tarleton’s veterinarian. This arrangement provided the community with convenient veterinary assistance and gave Tarleton Agricultural students usable and valuable first-hand experience. 

It is not known if Dean Davis kept his livestock out at Tarleton's farm, but it would make sense for him to set an example for his students and the community by utilizing some of the agriculture initiatives he himself established (like the one mentioned above).

Scan of Marks and Brands record depicting the brand of J. Thomas Davis
Davis helped John Tarleton Agriculture College expand over his twenty-six years; not only with educational programs, but also with buildings. He added an Administration building (currently the E.J. Howell Education building), the Wisdom Gym, an Auditorium, a Science building, the Smokestack, the first Dining Hall (now the green space next to the O. A. Grant Building), Davis Hall (built as a boys dorm), and added several annexes (Chamberlin, Lewis, Moody, & Gough) to the Mary Corn-Wilkerson Dormitory. Many of these and other buildings have been torn down to contruct new buildings or have been extensively renovated over the years. Check out our Historypin project highlighting some of the buildings that came about as a result of Dean Davis' hard work.

Photo of Dean Davis with animals in Cross Timbers Historical Images Project

Davis stepped down as Dean in 1945. He was given Dean Emeritus status and continued to teach at Tarleton. He finally retired in 1950 and passed away shortly after on May 12, 1950. Thomas Davis was the epitome of a Tarleton Texan ("Plowboy" during his time at Tarleton). He worked hard to make Tarleton a better place and always had the best interests of the students and the local community in mind.

For assistance with or to request to see archival materials, contact Collections Archivist Gary Spurr by phone at (254)968-1808, email at or

No comments: