The Nocona Boot Company, founded in 1925 by Enid Justin Steltzer in Nocona, Texas, had its antecedents about 1890 when H. J. (Joe) Justin , a leather craftsman who had moved from Indiana to Texas, moved his small business from Spanish Fort to Nocona to take advantage of the shipping facilities brought by the railroad. Joe taught his seven children bootmaking, and by 1918, when their father died, the children were able to carry on a successful business. In 1925, enticed by the Industrial Board of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce to relocate, the Justin brothers moved the bootmaking operations and equipment of H. J. Justin and Sons from Nocona to Fort Worth. Enid, thinking that her father would have wanted the company to stay in Nocona, organized the Nocona Boot Company as a copartnership with Julius L. Steltzer (her husband), Jess B. Thompson, and E. D. Keller. With $5,000, seven employees, and a small shop, Enid started what later became one of the most successful bootmaking operations in the country.
Despite the financial drain of equipment purchases and local prejudice against buying boots made by a woman, the business began to prosper when, in 1926, the oil boom near Nocona caused a demand for strong, high-laced work boots. In the same year the Nocona Boot Company was incorporated, and a charter was granted by the state of Texas that authorized the issuance of $20,000 in capital stock. The assets of the copartnership were transferred to the corporation under the presidency of J. L. Steltzer. The company grew rapidly; net profits rose from $1,180 in 1926 to $14,998 in 1929. This was largely due to Mrs. Steltzer's extensive sales trips into West and Central Texas. The Great Depression bit deeply into the financial stability of the boot business in the early 1930s, but by the middle of the decade the Nocona Boot Company had sufficiently recovered to surpass predepression profits. Enid Justin became president of the company in 1934, and in 1935 she began sales outside of Texas. The addition of automated machinery increased production and, despite a manufacturing drop during World War II caused by the unavailability of leather and thread, the company continued to report a healthy profit.
The success of the company and the pressures of increasing production led to the construction of a new plant in 1948, located east of Nocona on U.S. Highway 82, and the company expanded into the retail business with the establishment of the Nocona Boot Company Western Store in 1949. Although a drop in demand in the 1950s caused a general slump in the industry, the introduction of improvements in bootmaking and technological advances in high-speed automatic stitching enabled the company to make tremendous production and sales increases in the 1960s and 1970s. Production also increased with the addition of a plant in Vernon, Texas, in 1977. Company net sales had climbed to $19,420,390 by 1980. Through trend-setting advertising, promotion overseas, and production of a large variety of made-to-order styles, the Nocona Boot Company became a major contributor to the glamorization of the bootmaking industry. In June 1981 Justin Industries acquired all of the Nocona Boot Company's outstanding stock, and the company is now one of the eight subsidiaries of Justin Industries.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Dallas Morning News, September 21, 1980. Nocona News, August 28, 1975. Dale Terry, "Nocona's Lady Bootmaker," Texas Highways, January 1975.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Richard L. Himmel,
“Nocona Boot Company,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 01, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995
Most Recent Revision Date:
March 23, 2019