Laura Vernon Hamner
| Laura Vernon Hamner
(Texas educator, author, radio commentator, and ranch historian)
|Born|| July 17, 1871 |
|Died|| September 20, 1968 (aged 97) |
|Spouse|| Never married|
Laura Vernon Hamner (July 17, 1871 – September 20, 1968) was an American author, ranch historian, journalist, radio commentator, educator, and public official from the Texas Panhandle. She was informally known in her later years as "Miss Amarillo," a reference to her adopted city of Amarillo.
Born in Tennessee to James Henry Hamner (1839-1922) and the former Laura Lula Hendrix (1841-1925), Laura was educated at Miss Higbee's School for Young Ladies in Memphis and Peabody College in Nashville, She also studied at the University of Chicago. Miss Hamner, who never married, was a teacher for many years. From 1913 to 1921, during the administration of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, she served as the appointed postmistress at Claude in Armstrong County east of Amarillo. From 1922 to 1938, she was the Potter County school superintendent, a position which brought her to Amarillo, where she resided for the remainder of her life. Hamner lived for years in the Herring Hotel in Amarillo, owned by then Mayor Ernest O. Thompson, later a long-term chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.
In the early 1890s, while she assisted her father in his newspaper work in Claude, she met Charles Goodnight (1836-1929) and his first wife, Mary Ann. In 1935, six years after Goodnight's death, she wrote The No-Gun Man of Texas, a novel-ized biography of the legendary cattleman, former co-owner with John George Adair of the JA Ranch. Her research into life stories of old-timers led to Short Grass and Longhorns (Norman, Oklahoma]: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943) and Light 'n Hitch (1958). For more than thirty years, Hamner wrote features for The Amarillo Globe-News. She appeared weekly on radio to discuss life during early Panhandle times.
In 1947, she published in Reader's Digest an article about Matthew "Bones" Hooks (1867–1951), an African-American cowboy from Amarillo. Born to former slaves, Hooks was only semiliterate but had an historical consciousness. He crossed the West Texas plains, broke horses, and handled the remudas on cattle drives, later settling into life as a townsman. Hooks became a leader of the black community in Amarillo and the High Plains. He established one of the first black churches in West Texas.
During the 1920s, in an effort to encourage other writers, Hamner formed the literary group, Panhandle Pen Women, with a friend Phebe Kerrick Warner (1866-1935). In her later years, at her room in the Herring Hotel in Amarillo, she frequently met with literary agents, publishers, and writers from throughout the world. At one point, she lived briefly on a land claim in Oklahoma. She was made an honorary member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. “Laura V. Hamner Week” was frequently observed in Amarillo.
Hamner died in Alabama while visiting a relative. A Methodist, she is interred beside her parents at the Claude Cemetery in Armstrong County. Most of her papers are in either the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas, or the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center of the University of Texas at Austin. She is included in the University of Texas “Listing of Great Texas Women”.
- Hamner's first major publication, The No-Gun Man of Texas (1935) was the result of her long-term acquaintance with legendary Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight.
- Short Grass and Longhorns (University of Oklahoma Press, 1943).
- Hamner's article in Reader's Digest (1947) introduced the African American former cowboy Matthew Bones Hooks of Amarillo to a national readership.
- Ranching exhibits, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas, has an exhibit on Laura Vernon Hamner.
- Deolece M. Parmelee. Handbook of Texas Online Hamner, Laura Vernon. The Handbook of Texas on-line. Retrieved on December 14, 2019.
- "Bones" Hooks: Pioneer Negro Cowboy. Free Online Library. Retrieved on December 14, 2019.
- Laura Lula Hamner. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on December 14, 2019.
- Great Texas Women. University of Texas. Retrieved on December 14, 2019; website still exists, but material on Hamner may no longer be on-line.
- Ina M. O. McAdams, Texas Women of Distinction (McAdams, Austin, 1962).
- Deolece Miller, Miss Laura of Amarillo, Texas Parade, December 1954.
- Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags, 5 vols. (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).