Bookmark and Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

HAMNER, LAURA VERNON

HAMNER, LAURA VERNON (1871–1968). Laura Vernon Hamner, public official, writer, radio commentator, and ranch historian, daughter of James Henry and Laura Lula (Hendrix) Hamner, was born on July 17, 1871, in Tennessee. She was educated at Miss Higbee's School, Memphis, and Peabody Normal College, Nashville, studied further in Texas colleges and the University of Chicago, spent many years in the teaching profession, and subsequently was postmaster at Claude (1913 to 1921) and Potter County superintendent of education (1922–38). She was a Methodist.

Around 1892, when she assisted her father in newspaper work in Claude, Miss Hamner knew Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight; she later wrote a novelized biography of Charles, The No-Gun Man of Texas (1935). Many years of primary research into life stories of old-timers gave impetus for her books Short Grass and Longhorns (1943) and Light 'n Hitch (1958). Short Grass has become a classic. For over thirty years Laura Hamner wrote features for the Amarillo Globe-News-"Talks to Teens," "Panhandle Scrapbook," and others. She also gave a weekly radio talk on old-time Panhandle life. In 1947 she published an article about Matthew "Bones" Hooksqv, a black Amarillo cowboy, in Readers' Digest. Besides breaking ground in research when many insisted the Panhandle had no history, she spurred others to literary efforts. With a friend, Phebe K. Warner, she founded Panhandle Pen Women in the 1920s.

For over thirty years she lived in the Herring Hotel, Amarillo, keeping open house for literary agents, publishers, writers, and would-be writers from many parts of the world. She was never married. She lived on a land claim in No-Man's-Land (Oklahoma); she adopted a child; she sat on village curbstones and interviewed superannuated cowboys; she braved gunfire to interview a former outlaw. Associates gave her such tributes as honorary membership in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and municipal observances of "Laura V. Hamner Week." Indeed, for a time she was known informally as "Miss Amarillo." She died on September 20, 1968, while with a relative in Alabama, and was buried in Claude beside her parents. Most of her extensive Texana papers are in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, though some are in the Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Laura V. Hamner Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Laura V. Hamner Papers, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas. Ina M. O. McAdams, Texas Women of Distinction (Austin: McAdams, 1962). Deolece Miller, "Miss Laura of Amarillo," Texas Parade, December 1954. Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).

Deolece M. Parmelee

Citation

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

Deolece M. Parmelee, "HAMNER, LAURA VERNON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhadb), accessed July 12, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.