J. Evetts Haley

J. Evetts Haley

Infobox Person
name = James Evetts Haley, Sr.

image_size = 300px
caption = Painting of a youthful J. Evetts Haley at Haley Library in Midland, Texas
birth_date = birth date |1901|7|5|
birth_place = Belton, Bell County, Texas, USA
death_date=death date and age|1995|10|9|1901|7|5|
death_place=Midland, Midland County, Texas
occupation=Historian; Rancher
party=Republican-turned-Democrat; returned to Republican affiliation in 1964
spouse=(1) Mary Vernita "Nita" Stewart Haley (ca. 1899-1958, married 1928-her death)
(2) Rosalind Kress Haley (1910-2008, married 1970-his death)
children=J. Evetts Haley, Jr.
Three stepsons:
Alexander M. "Sandy" Frame of New York City
Peter C. Frame of Tazewell, VirginiaChristopher K. Frame of Savannah, Georgia
religion=Methodist Episcopal, South
footnotes=(1) Haley wrote the definitive biographies of Texas cattlemen Charles Goodnight and George W. Littlefield and produced a controversial history of the XIT Ranch which was recalled in a libel dispute.

(2) Haley ran for the United States House of Representatives as a Republican in 1948 and then ran for governor as a conservative Democrat in 1956.

(3) In his ill-fated gubernatorial race, Haley threatened if elected to "lock up" South Texas political boss George Parr.

(4) Haley also managed numerous Great Plains ranches and owned a spread for a time in Hutchinson County in the far northern Texas Panhandle.

(5) Haley's best-selling work was his self-published "A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power", which sought to bolster the Barry M. Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964 through attacks on the character of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.

James Evetts Haley, Sr., usually known as J. Evetts Haley (July 5, 1901 – October 9, 1995), was a Texas-born political activist and historian who wrote multiple works on the American West, including an enduring biography of legendary cattleman Charles Goodnight. Haley determined Goodnight to have been a man of greatness and claimed that Goodnight's detractors were less-than-successful persons envious of Goodnight's achievement and bearing.

Early years and education

Haley was born to John Alva Haley and the former Julia Evetts in Belton in Bell County near Temple in central Texas. The senior Haley operated a hardware store and hotel in Midland, the seat of Midland County in West Texas. Haley worked as a rancher and as a young man competed in popular rodeos. He graduated from Midland High School and West Texas A&M University (then known as West Texas Normal College) in Canyon, the seat of Randall County in the Palo Duro Canyon country south of Amarillo.

After he received his bachelor of arts degree in history, Haley was named field secretary of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society in Canyon, which operates the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest Western history institution of its kind in Texas. Haley's illustrator for the Goodnight biography and other works to follow was artist Harold Dow Bugbee, former curator of the museum. Haley interviewed nearly seven hundred pioneers, including Goodnight, with whom he developed a personal friendship. He obtained his master of arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied under Texas history specialist Eugene C. Barker and wrote a thesis on early Texas cattle trails.He taught at UT from 1929-1936 and claimed that he was unjustly dismissed because of his opposition to the New Deal: "I was fired because of my vigorous fight against the insidious invasion of socialistic federal power." [http://books.google.com/books?id=YZyB3CAZci8C&pg=PA232&lpg=PA232&dq=J.+Evetts+Haley+&source=web&ots=BHhcL-YcEf&sig=2RKcBVk87XOtP1nPhPZxGQ9njmk&hl=en#PPA236,M1]

Haley's family and legacy

On August 27, 1928, Haley married the former Mary Vernita "Nita" Stewart in Alpine, the seat of Brewster County. An educator who like her husband graduated from West Texas A&M, Nita was born in Longview, the seat of Gregg County in east Texas. She was descended and orphaned from trail drivers. The couple had one son, Evetts Haley, Jr. Nita died of ovarian cancer on December 20, 1958.

On May 31, 1970, the Protestant Haley married a divorced Roman Catholic, former debutante Rosalind "Ros" Kress (July 21, 1910 - April 23, 2008), who was born in New York City and also lived in Savannah, Georgia. Rosalind had three sons from her first marriage in 1935 to Charles Wesley Frame of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Alexander M. "Sandy" Frame of New York City, Peter C. Frame of Tazewell, Virginia, and Christopher K. Frame of Savannah. Her father, Claude W. Kress, owned the Kress Variety Stores (not to be confused with The S.S. Kresge Company, the forerunner to K-Mart). Haley met Rosalind through their mutual involvement in the Goldwater campaign though she had originally been a Franklin Roosevelt supporter while he was organizing against FDR. Rosalind died at the age of ninety-seven of complications from a stroke and is buried in her paternal family plot in Savannah. [http://www.amarillo.com/stories/042608/obi_obit4.shtml Amarillo.com | Obituaries: Rosalind "Ros" Kress Haley 04/26/08 ] ] Haley, meanwhile, is buried beside Nita in the Moffat Cemetery in Bell County.

A cowboy on horseback outside the Haley Center]

Haley endowed his Nita Stewart Haley Memorial Library (established 1958) and the J. Evetts Haley History Center (established 1976) at 1805 West Indiana in Midland. The facilities are privately maintained and not affiliated with a university. [ [http://www.museumsusa.org/directory/info/1278376 Nita Stewart Haley Memorial Library & J. Evetts Haley History Center, Midland, Texas ] ] They are dedicated to the preservation of America's western heritage. The library houses more than 25,000 books, manuscripts, and other printed materials documenting western history. The Haley centers attempt to find common thread among the cowboy, the range cattle industry, the military presence, and the railroads. [ [http://www.haleylibrary.com Haley Memorial Library and History Center ] ] He was also instrumental in the development of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. And there is the Rosalind Kress Haley Library, Inc., affiliated with Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum at 7800 Bonhomme Avenue in St. Louis.; [http://www.eagleforumarchives.com/Finding%20Aids/RKH%20Collection/RKH%20BIOGRAPHICAL%20DESCRIPTION.pdf]

Bill Modisett of Midland, author of "J. Evetts Haley: A True Texas Legend", through Staked Plains Press. In his introduction to Modisett's book, the novelist Elmer Kelton writes: "History will probably be kinder to J. Evetts Haley than many of his contemporaries have been. History has always favored the leaders, the individualists who blazed their own trails and lived by their own lights, those who chose to be out in front -- alone if necessary -- rather than simply fit in with the crowd. Not even his detractors could ever accuse Evetts Haley of being one of the crowd." [http://www.oldcardboard.com/lsj/cox/cox97/cox97feb.htm Texana Book Reviews (February 1997) ] ]

Congressional and gubernatorial races

In 1948, Haley ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the District 18 seat in the United States House of Representatives. [ [http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/haley-haling.html The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Hales to Haling ] ] He polled 6,266 votes (11.3 percent) to the incumbent Democrat Eugene Worley, who received 48,985 ballots (88.7 percent). Two yeas later in 1950, another Republican, B.H. Guill, polled 47.5 percent in his challenge to Worley's successor, Walter Rogers. ["Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections" U.S. House elections, p. 1140] .

In 1956, Haley ran unsuccessfully as a conservative Democrat for governor of Texas. During the campaign, Haley urged a halt to price controls on natural gas. He approached George Parr, the political boss based in Duval County in South Texas, and told Parr that if he became governor, "it will be my pleasure to lock you up." [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKhaleyE.htm Biography: J. Evetts Haley ] ] Haley vowed if elected to use the Texas Rangers to enforce continued segregation of public schools in the aftermath of "Brown v. Board of Education". [ [http://www.findagrave.com/php/famous.php?page=cem&FScemeteryid=5289 Find A Grave - Moffat Cemetery ] ]

Haley finished a distant fourth in the primary balloting with 88,772 votes (5.6 percent). The leading candidates were then U.S. Senator Marion Price Daniel, Sr., of Liberty, and future U.S. Senator Ralph William Yarborough of Austin. In the runoff election, Daniel, considered a moderate conservative edged out the liberal Yarborough, 50.1 to 49.9 percent. Yarborough then won the special election held in 1957 to fill the remaining months of the Senate term to which Daniel was originally elected in 1952. ["Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections", Governor returns, 1956]

Critic of LBJ and FDR

A sharp critic of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Haley, who was a member of the John Birch Society penned, "A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power". The bestseller exposes Johnson's relationship with swindler Billie Sol Estes of Pecos. Haley pointed out that the three men who could have provided evidence in court against Estes -- George Krutilek, Harold Orr, and Howard Pratt -- all died mysteriously of carbon monoxide poisoning from car engines. Haley's admirers claimed in 1964 that the book was outsold in Texas only by the Holy Bible. Haley's fellow conservative, Phyllis Schlafly, then of Alton, Illinois, and now of St. Louis, self-published the best-selling "A Choice, Not an Echo" to bolster the Goldwater campaign, with emphasis on what she saw as the destructive legacy of the Republican "Eastern Establishment" formerly headed by New York Governors Thomas E. Dewey and Nelson A. Rockefeller.

In 1936, in a meeting at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Haley organized a short-lived third party, the "Jeffersonian Democrats of Texas", to offer opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal within Texas. In 1964, Haley returned to his previous Republican affiliation to endorse then U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, who was challenging President Johnson but fared poorly in Texas.

Haley also claimed that Johnson had a motive for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy: "Johnson wanted power and with all his knowledge of political strategy and his proven control of Congress, he could see wider horizons of power as Vice-President than as Senate Majority Leader. In effect, by presiding over the Senate, he could now conceive himself as virtually filling both high and important positions - and he was not far from wrong. Finally, as Victor Lasky pointed out, Johnson had nursed a lifetime dream to be President. As Majority leader he never could have made it. But as Vice-President fate could always intervene." [Quoted in J. Evetts Haley, "A Texan Looks at Lyndon: A Study in Illegitimate Power", 1964]

Houston Harte, a newspaper publisher in San Angelo, who supported LBJ, said that his friend Haley had gone to the extreme in writing "A Texan Looks at Lyndon". "Haley can no longer be considered a serious historian," Harte claimed.

Historical works

In 1929, Haley published "The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado". Accused of libel in a dozen lawsuits, Haley was compelled in 1931 to withdraw the book from circulation and to pay the plaintiffs $17,500 to settle all pending claims. He defended his work in which he had exposed "outlaws" and even made a trip into Mexico to authenticate a particular point in question. The XIT Ranch, based in Dalhart, covered parts of ten counties in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas. The book was later returned to circulation.

In 1937, Haley became manager of the Zeebar Cattle Company in Arizona. He also purchased a small ranch of his own in Hutchinson County near Borger in the northern Panhandle. He owned another ranch near Sequoyah, Oklahoma. He also managed the Atarque and Clochintoh ranches in New Mexico. On the death of his father, he inherited the Haley Ranch in Loving and Winkler counties. In 1943, he published "George W. Littlefield, Texan", a biography of cattleman George W. Littlefield, for whom the city of Littlefield in Lamb County is named. He followed with "Charles Schreiner" (1944), "Jeff Milton, A Good Man with a Gun" (1948), and "Fort Concho and the Texas Frontier" (1952), a reference to an early fortification in San Angelo.

Other Haley works include:

*"The Alamo Mission Bell"
*"Diary of Michael Erskine"
*"A Cowman's Comment on Art"
*"Life on the Texas Range"
*"Personal Justice on the Arizona Desert"
*"Rough Times - Tough Fiber"
*"When School Was Out"
*"F. Reaugh: Man and Artist" (biography of Frank Reaugh)
*"What a World of Wonder"
*"On His Native Health...In His Natural Element" [ [http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=J.%20Evetts%20Haley&page=1 Amazon.com: J. Evetts Haley: Books ] ]

Haley's family and legacy

"A few days later 1,800 delegates attended a meeting of the National Indignation Convention at the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas, Texas. One speaker [J. Evetts Haley), to the delight of the crowd, complained that the chairman of the meeting had turned moderate: 'All he wants to do is to impeach [Earl] Warren- I'm for hanging him'" (p. 753, Thousand Days)


External links


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