Month: March 2014

Mentone

Mentone Community Church

As the only town in Loving County, Mentone has been dubbed the Smallest County Seat in Texas.  The Community Church (above) is one of only five to six non-residential buildings in the town.  The church was moved to Mentone in 1930 after the Pecos River flooded nearby Porterville destroying the town.  This is the oldest building in Loving County.

James J. Wheat, St. (1871-1931) came to Loving County from Ward County in 1919 or 1829 after three crop failures and a stint as an irrigation project promoter in Grandfalls, TX.  Upon arrival he recognized the possibilities for oil production in the unexplored county bought several hundred acres of land as well as leasing mineral rights from local landowners for division into small drilling tracts.  He organized the Wheat Guarantee Company, selling shares to the public for $40 each in an effort to raise enough money to drill test wells.  With partner Bladen Ramsey, Wheat organized the Toyah-Bell Oil Company and leased acreage on the Russell ranch one mile east of the site of Mentone in southwestern Loving County.  Toyah-Bell, later renamed Ramsey Production Company, drilled two wildcats. Both wells were productive. Although the wells were plagued with problems, they attracted the attention of larger oil exploration companies. Wheat and Ramsey sold their interests in the wildcats to Hadlock Oil Company and Lockhart and Company, which developed Wheat field. J. J. Wheat’s discovery led to a long-producing field which yielded nearly 22,000,000 barrels of oil by 1989.

The town of Ramsey was laid out by Wheat and Ramsey in 1925, after they discovered oil nearby. The name was later changed to Mentone when the postal service rejected the name. The site remained unsettled until 1931, when a post office was authorized.  The actual town was preceded by two earlier settlements.  The first community, named Mentone by a French surveyor from Menton, France, was established in 1893 by a group of men who came to Loving County and formed the Loving Canal and Irrigation Company.  They organized Loving County, made their Mentone the county seat, and received a post office. Three years later they abandoned the town.  The post office closed, and the county was declared unorganized.  The second town was founded in 1905, when E. L. Stratton, head of the Stratton Land Company of Chicago, led a group of settlers to Loving County.  They called the town Juanita and later renamed it Porterville.  After the present Mentone was founded two miles to the northeast, most of the residents of Porterville moved to the new site.

The first business in Mentone was the Loving County Lumber Company, founded in 1930. In the spring of 1931 the county schoolhouse was moved from Porterville to Mentone, where it was replaced in 1935 by a brick building. By July 1931 Mentone had five cafes, five gasoline stations, two hotels, two drugstores, two recreation halls, two barbershops, a dance hall, a machine shop, and a dry cleaner. From March 1932 to September 1935 a weekly newspaper, the Mentone Monitor, was published. By October 27, 1933, Mentone reported a population of 600.

By the 1940s the population of Mentone had dropped to 150; only three businesses operated there in 1946. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s the reported population remained at 110, and the number of businesses continued to decline. From 1972 until 1984 no business was open in Mentone. At the end of the 1980s about 100 people, employees of the county and of oil service companies, lived in Mentone, which had two businesses.

Mentone is on State Highway 302 twenty-five miles southwest of Kermit and twenty-five miles north of Pecos in southwestern Loving County.

REFERENCES:  Julia Cauble Smith, “MENTONE, TX,” Handbook of Texas online  (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnm33), accessed February 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Julia Cauble Smith, “WHEAT, JAMES JACKSON, SR.,” Handbook of Texas online  (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnm33), accessed February 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Santa Fe Railroad Hospital

Santa Fe Railroad Hospital

In previous posts, I have generally started the discussion at the town or regional level before discussing particular buildings.  However, for this post, I am focusing entirely on a building rather than the city where it is located.  The Santa Fe Railroad Hospital was unique because it was one of very few hospitals built by Texas railroads specifically for their employee’s benefit.  Railroad work was dangerous and injuries frequent.  Medical care for railroad workers, scattered across the state, was scarce and rudimentary.  The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway decided it would be better for their employees and the railroad’s operations if injured workers could be brought to a then-state-of-the-art hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The Santa Fe Hospital opened in June 1891 on South Twenty-Fifth Street in Temple.  The hospital was operated by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Hospital Association, formed by Galveston businessmen who owned the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway.  The Santa Fe was among the first railroads to adopt a system-wide prepaid hospitalization and pension plan.  Before 1891 railway workers were treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Galveston, but rail officials established a hospital in Temple because of its central location in the railway system.  In 1889 three Temple city officials bought ten acres and in March 1891 deeded it to the Hospital Association with the stipulation that the land would revert to the trio if it was not used for hospital purposes.

The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, founders of St. Mary’s Infirmary, worked as nurses, druggists, housekeepers and administrators of the Temple hospital for fifty-eight years, until February 1949.  The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway appointed a chief surgeon who was responsible for medical and surgical care at the Temple facility as well as for a system of line physicians consisting of one physician for every fifteen to twenty miles of the railroad.  The hospital’s first frame building housed twenty beds and the sisters’ quarters. A $90,000 four-story brick hospital, completed in December 1908, was designed by Sanguinet and Staats, Fort Worth architects, who also designed the 1915 north wing.  The south wing, designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick of Fort Worth, opened in 1925.  

The architectural firm Sanguinet and Staats was founded in 1903 by Marshall R. Sanguinet and Carl G. Staats.  Sanguinet, who was twelve years older than Staats, moved to Fort Worth in 1883 and practiced architecture there with a variety of partners until the turn of the century.  Staats, a native New Yorker, moved to Texas in 1891 and worked for noted San Antonio architect James Riely Gordon until 1898, when he was hired by Sanguinet as a draftsman.  Sanguinet and Staats headquartered in Fort Worth and rapidly developed one of the state’s largest architectural practices; they produced buildings of all types from factories and large hotels to churches and schools.  The firm is best known, however, for its contributions to the design of steel-framed skyscrapers. 

The hospital’s first chief surgeon was C. H. Wilkinson, M.D., of Galveston, first curator of Galveston Medical College.  When he refused to move to Temple, railway officials hired as chief surgeon Arthur Carroll Scott of Gainesville, who began on October 1, 1892.  Scott hired several doctors as house physicians who lived at the hospital, including Raleigh R. White, Jr., in 1895.  When they formed a private medical partnership in December 1897, both were named chief surgeons by the Railway Association, equally splitting their salary.  Their partnership evolved into Scott and White Memorial Hospital.  Thus, only Scott and White physicians were granted privileges at the Santa Fe Hospital. Another noted physician at the Santa Fe Hospital was Claudia Potter, considered the first full-time anesthesiologist in Texas and the first woman anesthesiologist in the United States.  A board consisting of Santa Fe officials oversaw the hospital until 1947, when the board was revamped to include representatives from labor unions.  The Santa Fe Hospital remained exclusively a railroad hospital until July 1966, when it was reorganized as Santa Fe Memorial Hospital, open to the community and granting privileges to physicians outside of Scott and White.  The hospital continued to treat railroad employees. The building also underwent extensive renovation between 1969 and 1972.  On July 5, 1983, Santa Fe Memorial Hospital and Scott and White Memorial Hospital merged, and the facility was renamed Scott and White Santa Fe Center.  The Santa Fe Center provides general and specialized medical care.  It also houses a medical research center operated jointly by Scott and White and the Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine.

REFERENCES:  Patricia K. Benoit, “SCOTT AND WHITE SANTA FE CENTER,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/sbs15), accessed March 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.  Patricia K. Benoit, Men of Steel, Women of Spirit: History of the Santa Fe Hospital, 1891–1991 (Temple, Texas: Scott and White Memorial Hospital and Scott, Sherwood and Brindley Foundation, 1991). Sister Mary Loyola Hegarty, C.C.V.I, Serving with Gladness: The Origin and History of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, Texas (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1967). Dayton Kelley, With Scalpel and Scope: A History of Scott and White (Waco: Texian Press, 1970).  Christopher Long, “SANGUINET AND STAATS,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/cms01), accessed March 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.