Timmons, Bascom Nolley (1890–1987)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

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Bascom Timmons, political correspondent and newspaperman, the tenth of eleven children born to C. Amplias and Martha Ann (Crenshaw) Timmons, was born on March 31, 1890, on the family farm in Collin County, Texas. Nine months later the family moved to a new homestead south of Washburn. Then in 1894 they moved to Goodnight, where Noll, as he was called, attended public schools. After another move to Randall County in 1903, he went to Amarillo Academy. By the time he was fourteen he had developed a strong interest in national affairs and was well informed on politics. Timmons began writing for the Amarillo newspapers as early as 1906. In 1908 he began submitting articles on a regular basis to the Daily Panhandle, founded by Peter E. Boesen and S. A. Brewster, and received his first pay for news wired to the Fort Worth Record (see FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM). Later that year he accompanied Lee Bivins to the Democratic national convention in Denver. His coverage of the happenings there landed him jobs with the Abilene Reporter (see ABILENE REPORTER-NEWS) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1909. By 1911 he was with the Milwaukee Sentinel, and the following year the Chicago Record-Herald hired him in time to cover the Republican convention, which was held in Chicago. The Record-Herald then sent him to cover the Democratic convention in Baltimore, where Woodrow Wilson won the presidential nomination. As the youngest reporter there, Timmons attracted the attention of the Washington Post. After about two years with the Post, he returned briefly to Amarillo to purchase the Daily Panhandle, which he edited until the paper was sold in 1915 by Joseph E. Nunn and subsequently merged with the Amarillo Daily News. Timmons then returned to his old job in Washington and made the capital his permanent home; even then, he continued to cast his vote in Potter County. During World War I he saw active service in the army. In 1925 he married Ethel Boardman from Oklahoma City, who had worked as a secretary in the United States Senate offices.

Soon after his marriage, Timmons established his own news bureau in Washington with a staff of twelve employees. At one time his wires and columns were appearing in fifty-five newspapers nationwide, among them the Houston Chronicle, owned by his friend Jesse H. Jones. Timmons became a confidant of many well-known political figures, including Calvin Coolidge, Charles G. Dawes, Herbert Hoover, John Nance Garner, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and made it a point to cover national conventions during election years. Many politicians sought his advice, and his peers conferred on him many honors over the years. Robert Sherrod, Sarah McClendon, and Ann Cottrell Free were among the noted journalists who launched their careers under his employ. At the height of the Great Depression in 1932–33, Timmons was president of the National Press Club when that organization faced bankruptcy and the probability of losing its National Press Building. Through his efforts, which included a successful lobby for changes in the bankruptcy law, the club was reorganized and was able to keep its headquarters. In the 1940 presidential election Timmons, who was not in favor of a third term for Roosevelt and was disappointed that Garner was not on the ticket, decided partly as a joke to run for vice president, but lost the nomination to Henry A. Wallace. During his lengthy career as a political analyst, Timmons wrote three biographies: Garner of Texas(1948), Portrait of an American: Charles Gates Dawes (1953), and Jesse H. Jones: The Man and the Statesman(1956). He continued to manage his news syndicate until his retirement in 1974, four years after his wife's death. As an animal lover, he "adopted" many pets; a cat cemetery in Washington is the final resting place for 125 of his cats. Timmons remained prominent in Washington press circles until his death on June 7, 1987. He was buried in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo.

Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). Della Tyler Key, In the Cattle Country: History of Potter County, 1887–1966 (Amarillo: Tyler-Berkley, 1961; 2d ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1972).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Timmons, Bascom Nolley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/timmons-bascom-nolley.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995