The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

current payments" (p. 254). In fact, group insurance does not require
long-run reserves to be a form of insurance. Nor does term life "in-
surance." Occasionally outstanding authors go beyond their technical
competence. It is best to be critical of all the "facts" adduced in any his-
torical review of the poverty program.
The full story of all aspects of the Johnson poverty program has not
yet been told. Zarefsky's research significantly helps in this effort.
The University of Texas at Austin WILBURJ. COHEN
Thurber, Texas: The Life and Death of a Company Coal Town. By John S.
Spratt, Sr. Edited by Harwood P. Hinton. (Austin: The University
of Texas Press, 1986. Pp. xxi+138. Acknowledgments, introduc-
tion, preface, photographs, notes, map, references, index. $22.50.)
This book represents the boyhood recollections of John S. ("Jack")
Spratt, who grew up in the Thurber-Mingus coal-mining area during
the boom years of 1900-1920. Spratt, the author of the prize-winning
Road to Spindletop: Economic Change in Texas, 875-I9ox, became in-
creasingly aware of the unique world he had known as the expanding
network of railroads transformed the economy of the state. Since loco-
motives consumed large quantities of coal, the development of mines
was crucial to economic expansion. Demand for coal by the Texas &
Pacific Railway Company was responsible for creating the two towns.
Thurber, built and wholly owned by the Texas & Pacific Coal Company
(no kin to the railroad), was the base of operations for fourteen mines,
while Mingus was the shipping point and service center for the railroad
cars that distributed coal along the T & P main line.
In the late 196os Spratt went back to Mingus and Thurber, talked to
the remaining old-timers, and sought out sites of memorable events.
The eventual result was a lengthy memoir focusing on his youth from
about 19o6 to 192o. He describes the operation of the mines, the local
business scene in Thurber and Mingus, and the various events and
celebrations that added color to the coal-mining center. He also writes
in some detail about his family life, school experiences, pastimes, and
chores. Because of ill health, however, Spratt was unable to complete
his manuscript.
Through these recollections, Spratt's primary objective is to describe
the dramatic technological changes in Texas that carried these two
towns to their peaks of industrial significance, then destroyed one
(Thurber) and left the other (Mingus) a shadow of its former self. The
discovery of oil in the neighboring Ranger Field before World War I
spelled doom for coal-burning locomotives-and for Thurber coal. It

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed September 24, 2014.