the Houston Chronicle decided to stop delivering its daily editions to
homes in Lufkin and Angelina County,
it severed a connection that reaches back more than a century.
the Chronicle was acquired in part by Jesse H. Jones, who grew up in the
lumber business connected to East Texas.
His uncle M.T. Jones founded the sawmill town of Emporia near Diboll
in 1882 and owned other sawmills at Orange.
also founded his own lumber company in Houston
before entering the newspaper business. He became the Chronicle’s sole
owner in 1926.
During World War
I, Jones managed military relief for the American Red Cross at the request
of President Woodrow Wilson. In the 1930s, another president, Herbert Hoover,
appointed Jones to chair the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to combat the
Great Depression, becoming one of the most powerful men in America.
flirting with the vice-presidential nomination in 1940, Jones was offered the
post of secretary of commerce, but was allowed to keep another federal title,
head of the Federal Loan Agency, which superseded the RFC.
In the late
1930s, when Southland Paper Mills, Inc., was founded at Lufkin,
Jesse Jones steered RFC money to the mill’s construction. And when the mill began
making the first newsprint from Southern pine trees in 1940, the Chronicle
was among its first customers and continued to buy paper made in Lufkin
for a half-century.
Two Lufkinites--Morris Frank and Clayte Binion--became
prominent Chronicle employees. Both were newspapermen in Lufkin
and Binion’s family owned the forerunner of the Lufkin Daily News.
who wrote a Chronicle column, “Of Cabbages and Kings,” also became one of America’s
best known toastmasters. He often spoke in Lufkin,
always starting his speeches with “Uncle Jesse sends his regards,” even though
Jones wasn’t a blood relative.
Binion became an executive in the Chronicle’s
news room and was responsible for the creation of a Chronicle East Texas bureau
at Lufkin in 1959. I was lucky
enough to become the first bureau chief.
time I made a trip to the Chronicle building in downtown Houston,
Binion and Frank always asked me about “the folks in Lufkin.”
I always stayed at Jones’ Rice Hotel across the street from the Chronicle.
He also owned a Houston radio station known as KTRH. The last three letters stood
for “The Rice Hotel.”
While working for the Chronicle, I wrote
my first book on East Texas
No one in Lufkin
knows why the Chronicle pulled out of Lufkin,
but it was a frothy issue in town for a few weeks, especially because the Chronicle
decided to continue home deliveries at Corrigan,
south of Lufkin--a town with about
31,000 less people.
January 6, 2012 Column
Bob Bowman's East Texas >
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
Texas Towns | Columns