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  Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical

THE LONE STAR BRAND

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald, PhD
Many things in Texas -- especially East Texas -- began in Nacogdoches, and Texas Farm Products, known for its familiar logo that features a Lone Star within ring inside a triangle, is one of them. The logo was designed by Steele Wright, who helped his father, M.S. Wright, found the company.
Lone Star ghost sign
Lone Star ghost sign in Wortham, Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007

M.S. Wright lived in Steele's Tavern, Virginia, in the southern or "upper" end of the Shenandoah Valley, and worked as a fireman for the Baltimore & Ohio Railraod, in a feed and fertilizer store in Staunton, Virginia, and as a traveling salesman for Armour Fertilizer Company.

From his travels Wright understood farmer's need for fertilizer, especially in East Texas. Texas used 235,000 tons of fertilizer annually, 12,000 tons in Nacogdoches County alone, all of it shipped in at great expense. So Wright decided to produce the fertilizer nearer to where it was used. Some might have thought that the winter of 1929 -1930 was not the best of times to start a new business, but Wright decided to do it anyway.

Wright and his eldest son, Steele, arrived in Nacogdoches on January 1, 1930. Wright met with I.L. Sturdevant, president of the Stone Fort Bank, who introduced him to a group who became the first investors in the Texas Fertilizer Company, capatalized at $30,000. Wright began as vice president and general manager. Over the years he was able to acquire all the stock in the company from the original investors and made it a family owned concern run by himself, and sons Steele, Joe, Tom, and Dick Wright. The Texas Fertilzier Company marketed its products under the Lone Star brand, and eventually changed is name to Texas Farm Products. Since fertilizer was used principally in the Spring, the company added new products to keep employees working year round. First came a mill to produce cornmeal and flour, then a cotton-oil and seed mill. They established experimental farms that aided cattle raisers and helped develop the poultry industry in East Texas.

By the 1980s the company was a leading producer of pet food and veterinary medicine products, and operated mills and other facilities in several states, and remains one of the leading industries in Nacogdoches, where the Lone Star Brand began in 1930. Now "Bud" Wright, grandson of the founder of the fertilizer industry in East Texas, manages the company.


All Things Historical
OCTOBER 8-14, 2000
Published by permission.
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association and author or editor of more than 20 books on Texas)

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