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Legendary West Texas historian dies


On this day in 1995, legendary West Texas historian J. Evetts Haley died in Midland. Haley, born in Belton in 1901, graduated from West Texas Normal College at Canyon in 1925 and subsequently received a master's degree in history from the University of Texas, where he studied under Eugene C. Barker. His book The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (1929) established him as a premier interpreter of the western range cattle industry. The book was also the subject of libel suits totaling $2.2 million, and set the tone for an often controversial career. Haley's books, including Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman (1936), won critical acclaim, but his conservative political views and outspoken nature often landed him in hot water. He lost his job at UT shortly after becoming chairman of the anti-Roosevelt Jeffersonian Democrats of Texas in 1936. In the early 1940s he sided with the university's board of regents in their notorious dispute with UT president Homer Rainey. In 1956 Haley ran unsuccessfully for governor on a platform that endorsed segregation and opposed labor unions. His book A Texan Looks at Lyndon, issued during the 1964 presidential campaign, was also controversial. Haley's library and personal papers became the cornerstone of the Nita Stewart Haley Memorial Library, which opened in 1976 in Midland.

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