The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 280
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
nation of a humanitarian, well-intentioned program of rural improvement
and the response of those selected to participate.
In organizing the rural relief program, the states established their own
rehabilitation agencies, parallel to the Division of Rural Rehabilitation of
the FERA. States also established rural relief corporations which acted
"as the financial agency" of the state relief administration. In Texas this
function was performed by Texas Rural Communities, Inc., a state-funded
organization described by one member of the Board of Directors as a group
of "public spirited men serving without salary, trying to deal with the
problem of rural rehabilitation." The membership of the Board of Directors
included some of the state's most prominent men: the presidents of the
University of Texas, Texas Technological College, and Texas Agricultural
and Mechanical College, and several widely known businessmen. This
Board had the power, subject to FERA agreement, to approve plans for
the local projects which would be financed by federal and state money.3
In 1934 a Lubbock group, led by A. B. Davis, manager of the Lubbock
Chamber of Commerce, submitted a proposal for a rural homestead project.
Local community leaders, the plan stated, hoped to "take I oo families in
this section permanently out of the industrial channels of the towns and
cities and return them to farm life in a community above the average of
the section insofar as comforts and conveniences are concerned." They
proposed to use one of several tracts of land available in the region and to
locate each family on thirty or forty acres, a farm unit that was much
smaller than what was common in the Lubbock area. Each farmer would
then receive close supervision as he attempted to become self-sufficient.4
The Texas rural relief program, of which the Ropesville project became
a part, developed first under the leadership of Lawrence Westbrook, a
former state legislator then working for the State Emergency Relief Admin-
istration. Westbrook was anxious to move in new directions in rural relief
activities. He viewed society with a critical eye and concluded that "the old
order is dead, as it ought to be. Look where it led." Westbrook considered
the primary problem facing American workers to be technological displace-
ment. The increasing productiveness of American industry had caused an
unemployment problem even before the onset of the depression. As a result
SWestbrook, "The Program of Rural Rehabilitation," 92-93 (first quotation); Brad-
ford Knapp to C. H. Hamilton, December 22, 1934 (second quotation), Texas Rural
Communities, Inc., Files, Bradford Knapp Papers (The Southwest Collection, Texas
Tech University, Lubbock); Minutes, Board of Directors Meeting, October 19, 1934,
Texas Rural Communities, Inc., Files, ibid.
4Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, "Application for a Homestead Colony on the South
Plains of Texas" (Southwest Collection, Texas Tech), 5.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/m1/325/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.