University of Texas Arlington

Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records:

A Guide

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Geo. E. Dilley & Son (Firm)
Title: Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records
Inclusive Dates: 1881-1931
Bulk Dates: 1907-1930
Abstract: Geo. E. Dilley & Son were founders and machinists in Palestine, Texas. The firm was established in 1873. These are business records of George E. Dilley and his son, C. V. Dilley, produced in the operation of their foundry. Their contacts were located in various cities in Texas as well as in New Orleans, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and in towns in Illinois, Oklahoma, and other states. Receipts and invoices record purchases for lumber, steel, iron, brass, machinery, office supplies, and include freight bills. A few letters are for personal purchases, such as custom-made shirts from Kansas City and a watch sent to Tiffany & Co. for repair. Two journals record expenses and income, 1881-1885. Catalogs and brochures from the companies they did business with accompany the correspondence. Also included are descriptions of some of the machinery that Dilley & Son manufactured with the statement, "We furnish everything in Machinery for Saws and Planing Mills, also Rails, Locomotives and Cars for Logging."
Identification: AR420
Extent: 2.7 linear ft.
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library

Historical Note

The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists company was established by George M. Dilley in 1873 when the railroad came to Palestine, Texas. Dilley established the foundry to provide gray iron and brass castings to the railroad.

George M. Dilley, the original owner of the foundry, was born in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, in 1833. The Dilleys eventually made their way to Illinois where George M. worked as a railroad engineer. His son and future business partner, George Edward, was born there in 1858.

In 1870 George M. moved his family to Texas when he took charge of the construction of the Missouri Pacific Railroad running from Houston to St. Louis. In 1873 he established the foundry, the first large industry in Palestine, taking on his son George Edward as partner, and naming it the Geo. M. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists.

George Edward Dilley ran the business after his father moved to Dallas, and assumed ownership when his father died (ca.1902). Upon assuming ownership, he changed the name of the foundry to Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists, taking on his son, Clarence Van Deursen Dilley as partner. George Edward Dilley operated the business until his death in 1932. Clarence V. Dilley then assumed ownership until his death in 1937 upon which his estate operated the business until 1940 when the foundry finally closed its doors.

The Geo. E. Dilley & Son foundry operated continuously from the time it was established in 1873 until 1940, and normally employed twenty to twenty- five people with an annual payroll averaging between twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars. Even during the Great Depression the foundry managed to keep its entire work force intact even though their employees worked on a part-time basis. Mr. Dilley (George E.) accomplished this by allowing his employees to use Dilley land to farm and raise live stock. This allowed their employees to produce food for their own consumption and sell the surplus to supplement their income.

Although originally established to provide services to the railroad, the Dilleys expanded the business to encompass services to other industries as well. They built and sold equipment for saw mills, cotton ginning operations, the oil field industry, and acted as sales agents for manufacturers of various types of engines, railroad steam locomotives, boilers, and other types of equipment.

In addition to the foundry, the business had well-equipped machine and welding shops. They claimed they could repair or fabricate anything out of metal if given a good set of plans or a sample from which to work. However, the bulk of their business came from the building and selling of saw mills, planning mills, steam engines, and boilers. They offered twenty-four hour service and the Palestine facility did business with companies all over East Texas and Western Louisiana.

Along with their primary facility in Palestine, Texas, the Dilleys operated facilities in Pine Bluff, Arkansas; San Antonio, Texas; and Parsons, Kansas. Unfortunately, the collection contains little information concerning these facilities.

The Dilleys were more than business entrepreneurs; they were involved in their community. George M. Dilley formed the Dilley Rifles, an award-winning precision drill team, and George E. Dilley served as chairperson of the Palestine YMCA. During World War I the YMCA established a war fund, and as chairperson of the Palestine chapter, he was involved in raising money for that war fund, helping the Texas YMCA surpass its quota established by the national headquarters of that organization. Dilley also served as chairperson of the Anderson County Fuel Administration during that war.

George E. Dilley was equally concerned with the well being of the people of Palestine. In a letter to several business people in the community, he asked if they would contribute money toward the relief of a widowed mother who could not provide for her family. Dilley himself was providing rent for one year, and implored other business people to help provide assistance for this woman. Unfortunately, there is no related correspondence describing the success Dilley had in evoking the generosity of his fellow business associates of Palestine regarding this matter.

At a time and place when minorities were not treated with respect or dignity, George E. Dilley did business with both white and black clients, dealing with both equally. When asked to provide a reference for a black businessman applying for credit, he favorably responded by saying that he wished some of his white clients paid their bills as diligently as did this man.

The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Records represent more than the business transactions of a family-owned company. The Dilleys were an important part of the Palestine culture, and the business correspondence found within this collection reflect the personality and integrity of the Dilley family, making these records a reflection of life and culture in an East Texas town.


  • Anderson County Genealogical Society. Pioneer Families of Anderson County Prior to 1900. Anderson County, 1984.
  • Avera, Carl L. Centennial Notebook: A Collage of Reminiscence of Palestine's First Century. Palestine, TX: Royall National Bank, 1976.
  • Avera, Carl L. Wind Swept Land. San Antonio, TX: The Naylor Company, 1964.
  • Hohes, Pauline Buck. A Centennial History of Anderson County, Texas. San Antonio, TX: The Naylor Co., 1936
  • Hunter, Mary Kate. "Mary Kate Hunter Papers Vol. II," Palestine Public Library, Special Collections, Palestine, Texas.
  • Palestine Herald-Press, Heritage II: A Pictorial History of Palestine and Anderson County, Texas 1855-1993. Marceline, MO, 1993.

Scope and Contents

The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records are contained in four manuscript boxes, one half-sized manuscript box and two oversized boxes. The documents contained within these boxes include business correspondence sent and received by the Geo. E. Dilley & Son foundry to and from business associates, suppliers of parts and raw materials necessary to the operation of the business; contracts entered into by the Geo. E. Dilley & Son business with customers and suppliers of equipment; legal matters that reflect the efforts by Geo. E. Dilley & Son to collect on unpaid debt; account records and statements, including two account journals housed in oversized boxes; sales and purchase invoices that reflect routine business activity in the operation of a manufacturing facility; and personal correspondence between family members and friends.

These records are organized in two series. Series I contains the business records of the Geo. E. Dilley & Son foundry and contains the routine correspondence and paperwork associated with the operation of a business of this type. However, the correspondence also reflects much of Mr. George. E. Dilley's personality. His sense of fair business practices and apparent lack of prejudice is also reflected within the correspondence found in the legal subseries.

Included with the business records is an issue of the Texas Railway Employee's Journal in which can be found an advertisement placed by Geo. E. Dilley & Son with attached letter requesting the placement of the advertisement. There are also brochures from the Tips Engine Works, and a page from a trade paper with two items marked by Dilley under the "wants" column. A copy of a letter sent by Dilley to the people looking for these items listed as "wanted" is attached stating that he may be able to supply the needed items.

Series II is personal correspondence, both sent and received. Much of this correspondence takes place at various times when either C. V. Dilley or George E. Dilley was on vacation. Letters from C. V. Dilley to his vacationing parents give interesting information regarding life and events in Palestine during the 1920s as well as how the foundry was operating during the owner's absence. There are also letters from C. V. Dilley to his parents while he is vacationing in California. One letter refers to an earthquake while they were staying in Long Beach. Included with these handwritten letters are color postcards and a newspaper clipping of a cartoon taken from a California newspaper. Another letter from C. V. Dilley to his vacationing father relates information about a parade and barbecue staged by the Ku Klux Klan in Palestine.

The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records were donated as part of the A. C. Greene Papers. There had been some attempt to put these papers in chronological order before they came into possession of The University of Texas at Arlington Library Special Collections. Consequently, the processing archivist decided to maintain this order in business correspondence sent, legal correspondence sent, contracts, and sales invoices. All other subseries are in alphabetical order with multiples of correspondents in chronological order.

The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records reflect the business practices of a family-owned business that operated from 1873 until 1940 (though the material in this collection only spans 1881-1931), a period spanning 67 years, and encompassing the late 19th and first four decades of the 20th centuries. Hence, these business and personal records can give valuable insight into the social and business culture of East Texas during this period.



The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records are organized in two series:
Series I. Business Records, 1881-1931 (2.5 linear ft. (4 document boxes and 2 oversized boxes))
Series II. Personal Correspondence, 1907-1930 (0.2 linear ft. (1 half-sized manuscript box))



Open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, or use by any and all other current or future developed methods or procedures must be obtained in writing from Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Library. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards.

Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Library. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Geo. E. Dilley & Son (Firm)--Archives.
Commercial catalogs.
Alternate Titles
Historical Manuscripts Collection

Separated Material

All duplicate and photocopied letters and documents have been removed and discarded. In addition, catalogs and brochures not germane or of historical importance have also been removed.

Administrative Information


The Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records were acquired as part of the A. C. Greene Papers given as a gift to The University of Texas at Arlington Library Special Collections. The Dilley records were separated from the A. C. Greene Papers and accessioned and processed separately.


Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records, AR420, Box Number, Folder Number, The University of Texas at Arlington Library Special Collections.


Gift; 1993.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Paul A. Oelkrug, May 6, 1999.

 Note to the Researcher 

Although the title of these records is the Geo. E. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists Records, some early invoices bear the letterhead of Geo. M. Dilley & Son Founders and Machinists. These invoices date before George E. Dilley took possession of the business and changed the name. The researcher will also note that some correspondence bears the name C. V. Dilley or the initials C. V. D. These represent George E. Dilley's son and partner, Clarence Van Deursen Dilley.

The researcher will also note the difference in the dates the Dilley foundry was in operation (1873-1940), and the dates the records in this collection actually span. Not all of the records are present and may have been lost or destroyed. The bulk of the records span the years 1907-1930.

Many of the documents contained in these records are carbon copies. Those documents in the worst condition have been copied on acid free paper, but the large number of documents makes it impractical to photocopy them all. Consequently, many of the documents are brittle and must be handled carefully. In addition, when using these records, please keep them in the order in which they have been placed. Color photographs of George E. Dilley's residence and the remains of the foundry have been placed in the holding file and are available upon request.

Container List


Series I. Business Records, 1881-1931
2.5 linear ft.

Arranged in eight subseries, including business correspondence sent, arranged chronologically, 1896-1930; business correspondence received, arranged alphabetically with multiple correspondents arranged chronologically, A-Y, dating 1896-1930; contracts, arranged chronologically, 1892-1919; legal matters, arranged chronologically, 1916-1931; account records, arranged alphabetically, 1881-1925, and includes two account journals stored in oversized boxes; sales invoices, arranged chronologically, 1895-1926; purchase invoices, arranged alphabetically with multiples of companies arranged chronologically, 1895-1905; and advertising material, arranged alphabetically, ca.1905.
Subseries I. Business Correspondence sent, 1896-1930
This subseries includes general business correspondence sent to various customers and business associates in the course of routine business activity.
Box Folder
1 1 Business Correspondence Sent, 1896-1906
2 Business Correspondence Sent, Jan.-June, 1907
3 Business Correspondence Sent, July-Dec., 1907
Also includes two handwritten pages with mechanical sketches.
4 Business Correspondence Sent, 1910-1916
5 Business Correspondence Sent, Jan.-May, 1917
Also includes a two-page document pertaining to the Monk & Sons job, including drawings.
6 Business Correspondence Sent, June, 1917
Also includes a drawing of a proposed job.
7 Business Correspondence Sent, July, 1917
Also includes hand-drawn diagram of a "top saw rig" and a series of letters inquiring about the purchase of wood for the foundry.
8 Business Correspondence Sent, Aug. 1917
9 Business Correspondence Sent, Sept.-Dec., 1917
10 Business Correspondence Sent, Jan.-June, 1918
11 Business Correspondence Sent, July-Dec., 1918
12 Business Correspondence Sent, Jan.-June, 1919
13 Business Correspondence Sent, 1919-1922
14 Business Correspondence Sent, Jan.-June, 1923
15 Business Correspondence Sent, July-Dec., 1923
16 Business Correspondence Sent, 1924-1925
17 Business Correspondence Sent, Jan.-June, 1929
Box Folder
2 1 Business Correspondence Sent, July-Dec., 1929
Includes a letter dated Aug. 3, 1929, to Mr. R. E. Thompson with trade paper attached, and letters referring to taxes with tax rates attached.
2 Business Correspondence Sent, 1930
Includes a letter dated Feb. 1, 1930, to the Texas Railway Employee's Journal requesting the running of an advertisement with an issue containing the advertisement attached.
Subseries II. Business Correspondence Received, 1896-1930
This subseries contains correspondence received from customers and other business associates during the routine operation of the business.
Box Folder
2 3 Business Correspondence Received, A, 1896-1923
4 Business Correspondence Received, B, 1896-1923
5 Business Correspondence Received, C, 1896-1929
6 Business Correspondence Received, D, 1915-1929
7 Business Correspondence Received, E-F, 1898-1930
8 Business Correspondence Received, Ga-Gu, 1914-1925
Also includes a product brochure from the Gordon Hollow Blast Grate Co.
9 Business Correspondence Received, Gu-Gx, July-Oct., 1917
Includes a letter with mechanical drawings attached.
10 Business Correspondence Received, H-I, 1898-1923
11 Business Correspondence Received, J-L, 1907-1929
12 Business Correspondence Received, M-N, 1899-1929
13 Business Correspondence Received, O-R, 1900-1929
14 Business Correspondence Received, S, 1917-1923
15 Business Correspondence Received, T, 1899-1930
Also includes a letter from Truscon Laboratories with attached brochure.
16 Business Correspondence Received, Tips, 1914-1930
Since correspondence from Tips Engine Works is large in quantity, Tips correspondence has been placed in a separate folder. Included is a full page newspaper advertisement regarding Tips.
Box Folder
3 1 Business Correspondence Received, V-Y, 1907-1925
Also includes a letter from the Witte Engine Works with Brochure attached.
Subseries III. Contracts, 1892-1919
Box Folder
3 2 Contracts, 1892-1919
Contracts between the Geo. E. Dilley & Son foundry and their clients regarding the sale of products sold by the Dilley business.
Subseries IV. Legal Matters, 1916-1931
This subseries contains correspondence between people and businesses who have defaulted on notes held by Geo. E. Dilley & Son, and the Dilley & Son's attempts to collect.
Box Folder
3 3 Athens Cotton Oil Co. Case, Nov. 20, 1916-Nov. 23, 1917
Correspondence regarding the attempt by Geo. E. Dilley & Son to collect from Athens Cotton Oil Co. on a past due note.
4 Carlson Case, June 26, 1928-Nov. 11, 1929
Correspondence sent by Dilley regarding the failure of Albert T. Carlson to fulfill the terms of a contract with Geo. E. Dilley & Son, and their attempts to repossess equipment or collect money due them by Carlson.
5 Carlson Case, Jan. 9, 1930-July 14, 1931
Correspondence sent by Dilley regarding the Carlson matter and the turning over of this case to the courts for judgement.
6 Carlson Case, A-S, 1928-1931
Correspondence received by Geo. E. Dilley & Son regarding the Carlson matter including a proof of loss statement from an insurance company.
7 Carlson Case, T, Jan. 10, 1928-June 17, 1931
Correspondence received by Geo. E. Dilley & Son from the Tips Engine Works regarding the Carlson case.
8 A. L. Daniels & Son Co. Case, 1923-1925
Correspondence sent and received by Geo. E. Dilley & Son regarding collection of debt from the A. L. Daniels & Son Co.
9 Cy Davis Case, May 1923-Dec.1923
Correspondence sent and received by Geo. E. Dilley & Son regarding the non-payment of a note by Cy Davis.
Subseries V. Account Records, 1881-1925
This subseries contains accounts records with various clients as well as account statements from other companies with which Dilley & Son did business. Two account journals in over sized boxes (OS344, OS345) are included.
Box Folder
3 10 Account Records, March 1884-June, 1925
Subseries VI. Sales Invoices, 1885-1926
This subseries contains sales invoices covering equipment, parts and labor purchased from the Geo. E. Dilley & Son foundry.
Box Folder
3 11 Sales Invoices, 1895-1897
12 Sales Invoices, 1898-1899
13 Sales Invoices, 1900-1910
14 Sales Invoices, 1916-1926
Subseries VII. Purchase Invoices, 1893-1924
This subseries contains purchase invoices representing equipment and material purchased by the Geo. E. Dilley & Son business as a result of normal business routine.
Box Folder
4 1 Purchase Invoices, A, 1895-1923
2 Purchase Invoices, B, 1893-1910
3 Purchase Invoices, C, 1896-1924
4 Purchase Invoices, D-F, 1896-1923
5 Purchase Invoices, G, 1898-1923
6 Purchase Invoices, H, 1896-1930
7 Purchase Invoices, I-L, 1896-1910
8 Purchase Invoices, M, 1896-1910
9 Purchase Invoices, N-T, 1898-1923
10 Purchase Invoices, W-Y, 1898-1917
Subseries VIII. Advertising Material, ca. 1905
This subseries contains sales brochures of equipment sold by Geo. E. Dilley & Son business.
Box Folder
4 11 Advertising Material, ca. 1905


Series II. Personal Correspondence, 1907-1930
0.2 linear ft.

Arranged in two subseries. The sent subseries, 1917-1930, is arranged chronologically and includes correspondence to friends and family covering a wide variety of topics. The received subseries, 1907-1930, is arranged alphabetically and contains correspondence received from friends and family covering various topics.
Subseries I. Personal Correspondence sent, 1917-1930
This subseries contains personal correspondence sent by George E. Dilley to friends, family, and organizations covering various topics.
Box Folder
5 1 Personal Correspondence Sent, 1917-1921
Also includes a letter to the city of Palestine regarding street repairs, a letter to the Winton Motor Car Co. requesting parts, and correspondence regarding the YMCA War Fund.
2 Personal Correspondence Sent, 1923
Correspondence regarding the availability of "Klim," YMCA correspondence, a letter about an up-coming vacation with itinerary attached, and a letter to vacationing Geo. E. Dilley from his son which mentions a Ku Klux Klan parade and barbecue.
3 Personal Correspondence Sent, 1928-1930
Also includes a series of letters regarding the purchase of "old fashion" toilet sets for the Dilley home, and a letter to Mr. D. A. Thompson appealing to his generosity regarding the plight of a widow and her family.
Subseries II. Personal Correspondence Received, A-Y, 1907-1930
This subseries contains personal correspondence received by George E. Dilley from family, friends, and organizations.
Box Folder
5 4 Personal Correspondence Received, A-G, 1907-1930
Correspondence from the American Consular Service in Rome, Italy, answering Dilley's request for a list of jewelers, and letters from the Citizenship Conference with brochures attached.
5 Personal Correspondence Received, H-R, 1910-1930
Letters regarding the YMCA War Fund, an invitation to the "Win the War for Permanent Peace" convention, and correspondence regarding the availability of specialty foods and personal items.
6 Personal Correspondence Received, S-W, 1908-1929
Correspondence from the Tips Co. regarding purchase of their stock, thank you letters for Christmas gifts, and YMCA correspondence.
7 Personal Correspondence Received, Y, 1917-1918
Bulk of correspondence pertains to the YMCA War Fund with attached brochures.


Oversized Material

OS344 Accounting Journal, May 1881-March 1882
OS345 Accounting Journal, Dec. 1881-Sept.1885