Texas A&M University Kingsville, South Texas Archives

James Lewellyn Allhands Collection

Collection Summary

Creator James Lewellyn Allhands
Title James Lewellyn Allhands Collection
Dates: 1879-1978
Abstract: J.L. Allhands was a railroad contractor and author of railroad history. The collection includes correspondence, diaries, railroad construction contracts, financial papers, manuscripts, and research notes for books and articles, printed materials, maps and broadsides, and scrapbooks pertaining to the history of several railroad lines in South Texas.
Identification A1963-014
Collection URL http://archives.tamuk.edu/collections/ead.php?xml=Allhands%20EAD
Quantity: 12 linear feet
Location: F-6-4 Box # 1-11
Language: English

Historical Note

J.L. (James Lewellyn) Allhands was born on September 23, 1879 in Illinois. He started working as a stenographer and telegrapher for a Kansas railroad in 1897. Three years later he began working for a construction company and stayed in that field of endeavor for over 65 years. He worked for or was a partner in several construction companies, most building railroads and highways but also canals and dams. He was with the Johnston Brothers Construction Company of St. Elmo, Illinois - 1900 to 1907.P. M. Johnston, Son & Allhands Company of St. Elmo, Illinois - 1907 to 1911; Allhands - Hedges Construction Company of Springfield, Missouri - dissolved in 1919. Allhands & Davis - 1919 to 1939. Allhands & Briley of Dallas, Texas and Joplin, Missouri - 1939 to 1967. Allhands was also an accomplished author and wrote six books: 1. Gringo Builders, 1931. 2. Boll Weevil; Recollections of the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railway, 1946. 3. Uriah Lott, 1949. 4. Tools of the Earth Mover, Yesterday and Today, 1951. 5. Railroads to the Rio, 1960. 6. Looking Back Over 98 Years: The Autobiography of James L. Allhands, 1978. He was married twice, first in 1933 to Reba E. Warren who passed away in 1951, and then in 1953 to Margareth C. Welton. J.L. Allhands died at the age of 98 on January 6, 1978. His work as an author has been widely used in research and understanding of the development of railroads in South Texas.

Scope and Contents

J.L. (James Lewellyn) Allhands born 09/23/1879, died 01/06/1978, was a construction contractor and writer. He was a worker for or a partner in several firms that built many of the railways in south Texas in the first half of the twentieth century. The work he was involved with became the material of his first book, "Gringo Builders". He went on to write five more books including an autobiography. The materials in this collection show his involvement in the construction of several of the railways in south Texas through correspondence, financial documents and legal papers. There is also a large accumulation of material in his scrapbooks and notebooks that he kept, with subjects ranging from definitions of words to information on various Texas cities to the oil industry. These materials illuminate the roll of J.L. Allhands in the construction of some of the most important infrastructure of Texas and the southwest. The papers of J.L. Allhands consist primarily of correspondence relating to the construction of railroads in south Texas at the beginning of the twentieth century and of his work documenting that construction several years later while gathering material for his books. Another large portion is composed of his notebooks and scrapbooks with a vast array of material documenting and describing the construction of railways, roads and the oil industry in Texas. There is a small portion of excerpts from his diaries related to the oil industry. And there is a small amount of legal, financial and printed material related to construction and oil in Texas.



The materials are divided into eight series. I. Correspondence II. Literary Productions III. Scrapbooks IV. Diaries V. Legal VI. Financial VII. Printed Materials VIII. Maps & Broadsides

Index Terms

Allhands, J. L. (James Lewellyn), 1879-1978
Johnson, Son & Allhands Company
Allhands - Hedges Construction Company
Allhands & Davis
Allhands & Briley
Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Company
Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway Company
St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway
Associated General Contractors of America
Geographical Names
St Elmo (Ill.)
Springfield (Mo.)
Dallas (Tex.)
Brazos Island Harbor (Tex.)
Rio Grande Valley (Colo. - Mexico and Tex.)
Railroads -- Middle West -- History
Railroads -- Design and construction -- Texas -- History
Railroads -- Freight -- Texas
Railroads -- Passenger traffic -- Texas
Construction industry -- Texas -- Biography
Civil engineers -- Texas -- Biographies
Frontier and Pioneer life -- Texas