The Vinson Papers — Part 7

Truett with a niece

Part 6

[By Rob Roehm. Originally posted on July 13, 2011, at the now defunct REH Two-Gun Raconteur Blog. This version has been updated.]

Following his break-up with Novalyne Price, Truett Vinson appears to have spent some time cleaning out his personal library and getting a bit more involved with his alma mater. The June 1939 Howard Payne catalogue includes the two items mentioned last time (Wade D. Vinson’s Library and the Vinson Athletic Award); these entries remain pretty much the same through 1944, but in 1945 there is an interesting change, as we will see below.

Vinson also starts making regular appearances in the Yellow Jacket. The October 5, 1939 edition has “Library Board to Meet Next Week,” which includes the following bit: “During the last two weeks donors have given approximately forty-six new books to the library. [. . .] Allen’s “Toward the Lame,” second edition, presented by Truett Vinson [. . .]” On March 14, 1940, his donations get a little more play:

Vinson Donates More Books to HP Library

Truett Vinson, whose interest and contributions to the Howard Payne College library have made possible some of the library’s most interesting literary works, recently donated three new books to the institution.

An office employee of the Walker Smith firm of Brownwood and a brother of Miss Lena Vinson, college secretary, Mr. Vinson presented the college library with copies of New Russia’s Primer by Ilin, John Brown’s Body by Benet, and Buddenbrooks by Thomas Moore in his most recent contribution.
[. . .]

A month later, April 11, he’s at it again:

Additions Made to Library—
Most Interesting Collection Is The War On All Fronts Volumes

[. . .]
Perhaps the most interesting volumes in this collection, according to Mrs. Katie Cooper Lee, librarian, are the books that make up the series The War on All Fronts donated to the library by Truett Vinson. [. . .]
Vinson also has presented the library with two works by Liddell Hart, Through the Fog of War, and Europe in Arms.

And so it goes. By October 2, 1941, it’s time for Truett’s sister, Lena (seen above from the 1944 Lasso yearbook), to get a little play in the Yellow Jacket:

Faculty Personalty—
Popular Miss Lena is a Pal and Friend of HP Students

Everyone on campus has by this time met and learned to like Miss Lena Vinson. Miss Lena came to Brownwood from Alabama with her parents, Mr. [and Mrs.] W. D. Vinson. Her father was a Baptist minister and missionary and attended Howard Payne. Rev. Vinson was also field secretary for the college. Miss Lena attended Howard Payne College in the primary department which was taught by Mrs. J. H. Grove, wife of the president of HPC. The Vinson connection with Howard Payne is quite prominent since not only Miss Lena and her father attended Howard Payne but her brother, her two sisters, and her brother-in-law were also students at this institution.

A daughter of a Baptist minister Miss Lena has lived in a number of towns in West Texas. For a high scholastic rating the young Miss Vinson was awarded a scholarship to John Tarleton College.

From college Miss Lena entered the business world. For a number of years after the World War she worked for the Empire Furniture Co.

In August of 1934 she came to HPC as cashier and bookkeeper.

Miss Vinson is an active member of Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. Much of her leisure time is spent in the raising of money for the Lois Howard Mashburn Memorial Fund, the interest from which goes to carry on Missionary work in provinces of Shantung, China.

As a hobby Miss Lena makes a study of South West Texas. This information, along with materials on the Indians of the Southwest, go to make up the scrap books of which she is very fond. She also collects perfume bottles. She prefers semi-classical music to swing music. She likes pastel colors and her favorite flower is the violet.

The Wade D. Vinson Sociology and Theology Collection has been donated to the college by Miss Lena, her mother, Mrs. Wade D. Vinson, and her brother, Dr. [?] Truett Vinson. This collection contains numerous works of Theology and Sociology.

Miss Lena has a definite interest in the athletic program of Howard Payne College and is jokingly called “Olive Oil” by a number of the football boys. Each year she and Dr. Truett Vinson offer a cash prize to the highest scholastic ranking student who is a letter man in either football, basketball, or track.

When we think of Miss Lena, we think of a person who is considerate, understanding, and ever ready to help the students in every way.

The “Dr.” title given to Truett above is probably a goof, I’ve not found any other documents claiming Truett earned a degree. Anyway, under the title “Vinson Family Will Be Long Remembered To HPC Students,” the November 26, 1942 Yellow Jacket summarizes all of the above, and previous information presented here, on the Vinsons, saying at the start: “Among the names associated with the past history of Howard Payne stands the word ‘Vinson.’”

In “Draft Board Lists Men to Go June 9th,” in the May 31, 1942, Brownwood Bulletin, Wade Truett Vinson is among “the names of men to report June 9 for induction into the Army.” But it appears that Vinson didn’t get in. He is mentioned occasionally throughout the war in the local papers, travelling to visit his sister in Big Lake and donating to the Red Cross. Lyndsay Tyson told the de Camps that Vinson tried to do his part, but “They turned him down when he tried to get in the Army because he had some kind of heart condition.” Vinson was (re-?) elected to the Carnegie Library Board in 1944.

In April 1945, the Howard Payne College Bulletin, Vol. XXXIV, No. 1, has an interesting change to its prior Vinson mentions. The Wade D. Vinson Library’s listing remains essentially unchanged, but the Vinson Athletic Award has changed to the following:

Vinson Ministerial Award. Mr. Truett Vinson and Miss Lena Vinson offer annually a Biblical Commentary to the ordained Baptist minister having the highest scholastic standing of all ordained Baptist ministers of the senior class. To be eligible for the award the minister must have an average of B on the regular required course per semester, and must be a member of the senior class. The award will be made on commencement day in May of each year.

These listings remain through 1965, and possibly beyond, though the Wade D. Vinson Library listing is collapsed with the other donations under the “Walker Memorial Library” listing. (As an aside, in the 1970s, when L. Sprague de Camp was looking for people that knew Robert E. Howard, Vinson was not interested in talking about his former friend. He told de Camp that one of the reasons for his reticence was “a very meaningful religious experience.” One wonders if that “experience” occurred just prior to the switch from an athletic to a ministerial award.)

Besides the annual appearances in the college bulletins, the only other Vinson mention I’ve located for the period between April 1945 and early 1948 is the following, from the February 24, 1948 Yellow Jacket. Under the “Library News” column, we hear that “Mr. Truett Vinson, brother of Miss Lena Vinson, recently presented the library with a number of books, too. The books which Mr. Vinson gave were said to be in excellent condition.”

I’m speculating here, but it seems likely (based on the information below) that one of the reasons for Truett’s absence from the papers, besides the possible “religious experience,” is that he had met another woman. By the time he shows up in the papers again, things must have been fairly serious, as he’s spending time with the woman’s family in Nebraska. The December 27, 1948 Beatrice Daily Sun, a Nebraska paper, in its “Wilber News” column, reports the following:

Truett Vinson of Brownwood, Tex., was a Thanksgiving guest of Mrs. Grace Troxell at the William Bohacek home.

Less than a year later, the couple are married, as reported in the December 11, 1949 Council Bluffs, Iowa, Nonpareil:

November Rites Told

MALVERN—Word has been received of the marriage of Grace Troxell of Wilbur, Neb., and Wade Truett Vinson of Brownwood, Tex., which took place Nov. 24 at the Baptist church in Brownsville [sic: Brownwood], Tex.

The bride is the daughter of Mrs. Frank Churchill of Malvern. Mrs. Churchill and the bride’s brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Moomow of Lincoln, flew to Texas for the wedding.

The following day, the Beatrice Daily Sun reported on the event as well:

Ex-Teacher Wed

The marriage of Mrs. Grace Troxell and Mr. Truett Vinson was solemnized on Thanksgiving morning at 10 a. m. at the Coggin Avenue Baptist church in Brownwood, Tex., with Dr. E. Hargorve, pastor officiating. Only the immediate relatives were present. Following the ceremony a wedding dinner was served at Hotel Brownwood. Mr. and Mrs. Vinson left for a short trip in San Antonio, Tex. Mrs. Vinson taught school in Wilber for a number of years and is owner of the Moon Theatre in Wilber.

Grace Adeline Churchill was born in Iowa in 1908, attended college in Nebraska, and became a teacher. She married William Morton Troxell in 1936. A theater operator, Troxell died in 1945 “following a lingering illness.” It is not known how his widow met Truett Vinson. Her photo, below, is from the 1930 Nebraska State Teacher’s College yearbook.

Go to Part 8.

One thought on “The Vinson Papers — Part 7

  1. Pingback: The Vinson Papers — Part 6 – Howard History

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