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BIGGERS, DON HAMPTON

Don Hampton Biggers
Photograph, Portrait of Don Hampton Biggers. Image courtesy of the Legislative Reference Library of Texas. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
The Texas Cleaver
Photograph, The Texas Cleaver, by Don Hampton Biggers. Image courtesy of Texas Tech University. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

BIGGERS, DON HAMPTON (1868–1957). Don H. Biggers, newspaper editor, satirist, and historian, the son of Samuel Washington and Elizabeth A. Biggers, was born in Meridian, Texas, on September 27, 1868. His boyhood on a small cattle ranch near Breckenridge and visits to the buffalo range gave Biggers a lifelong love of the land and of those who settled and farmed it. He learned the printing trade in Colorado City in 1884. In 1889 he published his first booklet, A Handbook of Reference . . . of Eastland County, a glowing account of the county's many advantages. On October 5, 1890, he married Nettie Lee Cox. They were married for sixty-seven years and had five sons and a daughter. In 1890 Biggers purchased the Midland Gazette. When its offices burned a few months later, the restless editor took up a wandering and prolific career of writing and publishing in various West and Central Texas towns. He published the Ranger Atlas (1891), the Clayton (New Mexico) Union-Democrat (1897), the West Texas Stockman (1898–1900), the Colorado Spokesman (1900), and the Rotan Advance (1907–09). In 1901 he published History That Will Never Be Repeated, about the development of ranching in West Texas (this work was reprinted in 1961 by Seymour V. Connor under the title A Biggers Chronicle), and in 1902 Pictures of the Past, a collection of old-timers' reminiscences about the great buffalo slaughter of the 1870s (this work was not reprinted and is a rare and expensive item of Texana). Articles that Biggers wrote about West Texas for the Dallas Morning News in 1904 were published as a book, From Cattle Range To Cotton Patch, in 1905. By 1935 Biggers had published at least ten other books. He also issued several satirical papers, The Josher (1899–1902), The Texas Cleaver (1902–05), and Billy Goat Always Buttin' In (1908). In 1909 he moved his family to Lubbock, where he farmed and wrote articles. He served in the Texas House of Representatives for Lubbock in 1915. In 1918 he started the Oil Belt News in Eastland. The following year he sold the paper and wrote articles on the state prison system for the Fort Worth Record. In 1920 Biggers served again in the Texas House, representing Eastland. He ran for the office of commissioner of agriculture and promised to abolish the office if elected. He lost. Also in 1920 he wrote about corruption in the Eastland County oilfields for the Ranger Record.

German Pioneers in Texas
Photograph, German Pioneers in Texas, by Don Hampton Biggers. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

In 1921 Biggers started the Independent Oil News and Financial Reporter, mainly to expose fraudulent promotion schemes; his success brought threats on his life, since files he gave the federal district attorney in Fort Worth helped send fraudulent promoters to prison. In 1922 in Fort Worth Biggers issued several short-lived publications dedicated to opposing the Ku Klux Klan. Again, he endured physical threats but refused to stop his anti-Klan campaign. In 1925 he published German Pioneers in Texas, a history of German settlement. He helped Louis Wiltz Kemp expose highway scandals in the administration of Miriam Ferguson and published Our Sacred Monkeys, a satirical account of James E. Ferguson's political career, in 1933.

Biggers spent his later years roaming the Southwest with his wife, writing letters to politicians and editors to protest hypocrisy and injustice wherever he saw it. He died in Stephenville on December 11, 1957.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Don Hampton Biggers Papers, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University. Seymour V. Connor, A Biggers Chronicle (Lubbock: Texas Technological College, 1961). James McEnteer, Fighting Words: Independent Journalists in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992).

James McEnteer

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

Handbook of Texas Online, James McEnteer, "Biggers, Don Hampton," accessed July 23, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbi09.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on April 6, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.