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SLATER, HUGHES DECOURCY [CAP]

SLATER, HUGHES DECOURCY [CAP] (1874–1958). Hughes DeCourcy (Cap) Slater, newspaper publisher and editor, was born in Marion, Smyth County, Virginia, on April 12, 1874. Upon graduation from high school in Washington, D.C., he began his career as a journalist. He moved to New York, where he edited a weekly newspaper, but in 1896, experiencing poor health, he moved to El Paso, where he worked as a construction engineer for the railroad in northern Mexico. Two years later he returned to journalism as a reporter for the evening newspaper, the El Paso Herald, and then became its owner and editor. In 1925 he also bought the rival morning paper, the El Paso Times, and until his retirement in 1929 was influential in the city's civic and political affairs. In August 1917, at the age of forty-three, he enlisted in the United States Army Infantry, rising to the rank of captain, and served in the Ninetieth Division in Europe. During his long newspaper career, Slater championed many causes, especially the elimination of open gambling in the city. He once editorialized: "If we have to fight the fight all over again, let's go to it." Slater described himself as "politically independent, usually favoring conservative Republican policies in national affairs but often voting for Democratic candidates." He was a strong supporter of private enterprise but was defeated in his opposition to city-owned water utilities. He organized public charities and supported efforts to eradicate slums and to build public parks and scenic drives. He served for many years as chairman of the City Plan Commission and edited the City Plan (1925), an ambitious forward look at orderly municipal development. Slater strongly supported prohibition, but by 1927, realizing from first-hand observation that enforcement was impossible, he joined in the call for its repeal. He was a keen observer of cultures and while serving in the Army of Occupation in Europe, wrote a series of articles entitled "Leaves from an Overseas Notebook" describing conditions there. An avid promoter of "good feelings" with Mexico, he deplored the deterioration of friendly relations with that country as a result of the Mexican Revolution. Slater married Elsie Pomeroy McElroy on March 30, 1899, in Washington, D.C., and they had two children, a daughter who died at an early age, and a son, John M. Slater, who became a research engineer for inertial guidance systems for military weaponry. Elsie Pomeroy was an author in her own right, and published two books on local fauna, and one on birds, entitled El Paso Birds. Upon retirement Cap Slater devoted his energies to the pursuit of his lifelong interests in art and music, and in particular, sculpture, producing at least forty of his own works. He died on September 22, 1958, and is buried beside his wife and daughter in Mountain Park, New Mexico.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

El Paso Herald Post, September 23, 1958. El Paso Times, September 23, 1958. Carl Hertzog, "The Slaters," Password 27 (Summer 1982). Tom King, "Tribute to Hughes D. Slater," Password 39 (Spring 1994). John Middagh, Frontier Newspaper: The El Paso Times (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1985). C. L. Sonnichsen, Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande (2 vols., El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1968, 1980).

Clinton P. Hartmann

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Clinton P. Hartmann, "SLATER, HUGHES DECOURCY [CAP]," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsl13), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.