Ralph A. Wooster

FORNELL, EARL WESLEY (1915?–1969). Earl Wesley Fornell, government professor and author, son of Oscar and Theresa (Larson) Fornell, was born on November 12 in Laketown, Wisconsin; the year of his birth is variously given as 1908, 1911, and 1915. He served in the United States Army Air Force in World War II and attained the rank of warrant officer. He was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in action. He received his B.A. degree in political science from the New School for Social Research at Eugene Lang College in 1948 and his M.A. in political science from the same school in 1949. From 1947 to 1950 he was documents specialist in international law at Columbia University, where he received an additional M.A. degree in political history in 1950. He was head of the government department at Amarillo College from 1950 to 1952 and an instructor in government at Rice University from 1952 to 1956. He received his Ph.D. degree in political history from Rice University in 1956. He joined the government faculty at Lamar State College of Technology (now Lamar University) in Beaumont in 1957 as an assistant professor and advanced to the rank of full professor in 1962.

Professor Fornell wrote over twenty articles for professional journals and two major books, The Galveston Era (1961) and The Unhappy Medium (1964). He was a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Handbook of Texas, and shortly before his death he completed a manuscript on the Moodys of Galveston. In 1967 he was chosen a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Galveston Historical Foundation, the Gulf Coast Historical Society, the American Association of University Professors, and the Foreign Policy Association.

Fornell was married to Martha Steinmetz on September 20, 1947. They resided in New York City before their move to Texas in 1950. Although he lived in Beaumont after 1957, he maintained a close interest in Galveston and Houston through research and writing. Fornell died on March 2, 1969, in Beaumont and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery in that city.

Beaumont Enterprise, March 3, 1969. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, 11th ed.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Ralph A. Wooster, "FORNELL, EARL WESLEY," accessed September 19, 2018,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox