H.L. and Lyda: Growing Up in the H L Hunt and Lyda Bunker Hunt Family as Told by Their Eldest Daughter
Margaret Hill, Author, Jane and Burt Boyer, Author August House Publishers (276p) ISBN 978-0-87483-337-9
I just finished reading this novel from the Kilgore Public Library. It reads like Mrs. Hunt-Hill is sitting at your kitchen table, drinking coffee. She conveys an enthralling narrative of an American family and their business innovations, leaving you with a brilliant description of East Texas during the evolution from one of the country’s poorest regions into one of the richest during the Depression and further.
The book begins with the twists that resulted in H.L. Hunt and his family coming to East Texas: Hunt’s cotton plantation flooding three years in a row; his turning his last $100 into more than $100,000 gambling; purchasing oil properties in El Dorado with his winnings.
In 1925, Mr. Hunt headed for the burgeoning East Texas oilfields with $108 in his pocket. Mr. Hunt purchased the oil/mineral rights of many locals. It was during the Depression, so money in hand was better than a possibility of more.
In 1930, H.L. Hunt used $30,000 in borrowed money to buy the heart of the East Texas field from C. M. Joiner. On October 3, 1930, “Dad” Joiner brought in the Daisy Bradford 3 and unknowingly tapped into the (then) world’s largest pocket of oil. (The East Texas Oil Field covers 140,000 acres, having 30,340 historic and active oil wells. It is first in total volume of oil recovered since its discovery in 1930.)
The resulting oil boom brought thousands of people into East Texas, turning the quiet little communities into raucous boom towns; also bringing the criminal elements to Kilgore. Mr. Hunt asked the Governor for assistance in cleaning up the town. The man who came was Texas Ranger “Lonewolf” Gonzaullas.
In this amazing tale, Mrs. Hunt-Hill describes: how her family moved to Tyler as Kilgore wasn’t a safe place to live at the time; reactions to The New London School explosion; tragedies that befell her family members; H.L. Hunt’s “secret families” with two other women; how the building of the East Texas Oil Museum, near the campus of Kilgore College, came into existence.
Take pleasure in reading this novel! Share the memories with younger generations to keep that history alive in our reminiscences.