Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…

Philandering tycoon finds new El Dorado in East Texas

November 26th, 1930

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On this day in 1930, his wedding anniversary, H. L. Hunt made a deal with "Dad" Joiner that made him owner of Daisy Bradford No. 3 and all Joiner's surrounding leases in the East Texas Oilfield. Hunt had got his start in the oil industry in El Dorado, Arkansas. He used money from an El Dorado clothier, P. G. Lake, to buy out Joiner in 1930. By 1932 Hunt had 900 wells in East Texas. In 1935 he divided his company into trusts for his six acknowledged children. In late 1936 he acquired the Excelsior Refining Company in Rusk County and changed its name to Parade Refining Company. It was residue gas from this company's lines that blew up the New London school on March 18, 1937. In 1937 or 1938 the Hunts moved to Dallas. On April 5, 1948, Fortune magazine labeled Hunt the richest man in the United States. On November 26, 1914, Hunt had married Lyda Bunker in Arkansas. They had the six children mentioned above. But on Armistice Day 1925, under the name Franklin Hunt, Hunt had also married Frania Tye in Florida, and they had four children. "Franny" didn't know about Lyda until 1934. Hunt apparently shipped Franny off to New York and in 1941 provided trusts for the four children. A friend of Hunt's, John Lee, married her and gave his name to the children. Lyda Hunt died in 1955. In November 1957 Hunt married Ruth Ray and adopted her four children--appropriately enough, for Hunt was their real father. After their marriage, H. L. and Ruth Hunt became Baptists. In his later life Hunt promoted "constructive" politics in two radio shows, "Facts Forum" and "Life Line." In 1952 "Facts Forum" endorsed Senator Joseph McCarthy. In 1960 Hunt published a romantic utopian novel, Alpaca , and in 1968 he began to process aloe vera cosmetics. He died on November 29, 1974.

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