Hoover, Harvey Edgar (1863–1945)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Harvey Edgar Hoover, lawyer, ranch owner, and businessman, the son of Harvey Nelson and Amanda (Rankin) Hoover, was born on November 16, 1863, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His father, a Confederate soldier, died of wounds he received during the siege of Vicksburg. Hoover attended common schools and married Laura Alice Bragg Winsett, daughter of a Tennessee planter, on July 4, 1884. They had five children.

Early in 1885 Hoover went into business with his brother-in-law, J. F. Johnson, in Kiowa, Kansas, then the railhead for the Southern Kansas (Santa Fe) Railroad. They ran a store supplying the 180 wagons that delivered goods and equipment to the railroad crews pushing across Indian Territory toward Texas. Eager to participate in Panhandle development, Hoover led an eighteen-wagon caravan of young Missouri bachelors into Lipscomb County in April 1886 and set up camp at the head of Kiowa Creek. His idea was to discern the railroad's likely route and locate a county seat. After returning to Kiowa to obtain a wagonload of merchandise, he set up a "tail store" for his followers and passersby, keeping his stock in the wagon and living in a tent. It was here that area cowboys and ranchers voted to organize Lipscomb County that summer. The terrible blizzards that winter froze Hoover out, and in the spring of 1887 he moved to the new rail town of Higgins, where he set up store in a tent and later in a boxcar on a sidetrack. He also built the town's first residence, to which he brought his wife and small son in July. A month later, Hoover was named the town's postmaster.

He ran unsuccessfully for the Lipscomb county judge's seat. Although business was good, he also wanted to practice law, so in January 1888 he turned the store and post office over to Johnson and took his family to Lebanon, Tennessee. There he attended law school at Cumberland University for six months, after which he was admitted to the State Bar of Texas. He returned to Higgins, resumed his job as postmaster, acquired an additional job of teaching school, and practiced law on the side. In 1890 the Hoovers moved to Lipscomb and in 1892 to Canadian, where Hoover became attorney for the Panhandle and Santa Fe Railway.

Hoover became president of the First National Bank in Canadian, established the White House Lumber Company, and owned several businesses related to agriculture. His fame as an attorney grew nationwide when it became known that he had never lost a case, and his sons Dan and Edgar eventually became his associates in the Hoover-Hoover-Cussens law firm in Canadian. The railroad-switch town of Hoover in Gray County was named for him. He and C. C. Patton purchased choice Panhandle ranchland and began developing it into model farms. Hoover later bought out Patton's interests and at one time owned one 10,000-acre ranch with 2,000 acres under cultivation and another 17,000-acre ranch with 10,000 acres under cultivation. These ranches were inhabited by fourteen tenants and were well stocked with purebred cattle.

Hoover was involved in organizing the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and served as its president from 1933 to 1935. During the Great Depression he gave financial backing to many small farmers, ranchers, and homeowners who were about to go broke. With a knack for prose and poetry, Hoover wrote several books, including Universalism and The Lay of the Law (1931), a poetic parody on "The Lay of the Last Minstrel." He died on March 21, 1945, and was buried in Canadian.

Amarillo Daily News, March 22, 1945. Sallie B. Harris, Cowmen and Ladies: A History of Hemphill County (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1977). F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], Rodeo Town (Canadian, Texas) (Denver: World, 1953).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Hoover, Harvey Edgar,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hoover-harvey-edgar.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995