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Roy L. Swift

FORE, SAM, JR. (1891–1966). Sam Fore, Jr., newspaperman, the son of Samuel Lane and Letitia (Chenault) Fore, was born in Cuero, Texas, on May 3, 1891. His family moved to Stockdale, in Wilson County, and finally in 1903 to Floresville. But even at Stockdale, before he was twelve, the boy had smelled printer's ink, at Charles Hanson's Enterprise, and he prevailed upon the old editor to make him the printer's devil. There, for six months, he learned to set type by hand from wooden cases in the tiny plant. When the family moved to Floresville, Sam soon was nominally on the payroll of the Chronicle, a semiweekly owned by Dr. John V. Blake, a local physician. Here, before and after school and on Saturdays, Fore learned to set type at the rate of two galleys an hour, as well as to pump the old-fashioned press and to handle job printing. When he finished the eighth grade, he began full-time employment with Blake and was soon getting into the editorial side of country newspaper work. In 1910 he was promoted to society editor and in 1911 to assistant editor.

On July 11, 1911, Fore married Elma Teas, daughter of C. S. Teas, a family friend. Later that year, when H. C. Thompson, editor of the Chronicle, died, Blake concluded that Fore was the man to take over as editor. Sam was barely twenty. Two years later Blake proposed that the young couple (Elma was working in the front office) should buy the paper. The purchase became official at year's end, 1912.

Sam and Elma Fore devoted the next forty-nine years toward making the Floresville Chronicle Journal an effective instrument for community improvement. The new editor made a point of traveling throughout the county to meet his public. He did not neglect Floresville itself. In February of his first year as publisher he organized a civic club; it soon had thirty-five members, and Fore was its secretary. The first business of the new club was to organize a city "Clean Up Campaign," which Fore backed with full publicity. During those same months he ran for city clerk in the April election and won, 169 to 52. It was the only political office he ever held, and he held it for fifty years.

In 1919, five years after he first attended the annual convention of the Texas Press Association, he was elected vice president. A year later he was president-the youngest president ever elected. In the 1920s he helped organize the South Texas Press Association to serve the special interests of that region. He continued active in both groups for the rest of his life.

His hometown paper was always the base of his operations. In the 1960s a budding journalist, Emily Lamon, was chosen by a foundation to find and celebrate an ideal country editor. She found Sam Fore and wrote a little book about him. In her preface she says: "He believes in what he calls the mission of the press. `If I couldn't say things good, I wouldn't say anything,' he says. `I didn't try to step up strife and discord. It is as important to know what to leave out as what to put in. I never put anything sensational into the paper. That's not good for this town.' His ideas are strong- he never voted against a bond issue, never voted for liquor, and never scratched a Democrat on an election ticket. Yet his paper is not a campaign sheet for anything but community improvement. Sam Fore comes close to being THE country editor-and for his community he is."

Fore worked hard to establish the Wilson County Fair. The advent of World War I got him into fund-raising; by the end of the war he was county chairman of the Great United War Work Campaign. In the 1920s he began to advocate the diversification of farm crops rather than total dependence on King Cotton. He began also to diversify his own business interests; he bought from the Chamber of Commerce in Robstown its newspaper, the Robstown Record. Operating under a succession of editors, the paper augmented the Fore family's income and extended Sam's influence. In May of 1929 Governor Dan Moody appointed Fore a regent at the Texas College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville (now Texas A&M University at Kingsville), adjacent to the King Ranch. His served two six-year terms.

In the 1930s Floresville was in the Nineteenth Congressional District, which ran all the way from San Antonio south to the coast, including Floresville and the King Ranch. Richard M. Kleberg, was the congressman for that district, and Sam Fore was his enthusiastic supporter. When Kleberg appointed a young unknown, Lyndon B. Johnson, to his staff, he told Johnson to go by Floresville and visit Sam Fore before reporting for duty. Johnson made such an impression on Sam and Elma Fore that Sam told Elma next morning, as they watched him drive away: "That boy is going to be President of the U.S.A., and I'm going to be at his inauguration." This was the beginning of a close relationship between the small-town editor and the rising young politician.

The country was by now in the depths of the Great Depression, and Floresville and all South Texas was suffering. Fore worked through Johnson and Kleberg to get all possible relief measures from the burgeoning New Deal programs. He had become Democratic executive committeeman for the Nineteenth Senatorial District. His efforts in behalf of this constituency won him the appellation "Mr. Democrat of South Texas."

Sam and Elma Fore had two daughters. When the family attended the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in 1936, Governor James Allred appointed one of the daughters Texas Sweetheart at the Convention. To the delight of all Texas Democrats, Marion Fore was chosen "Queen" of the entire convention. Sam Fore attended his last Democratic Convention at Atlantic City in 1964. He and Elma had operated the Chronicle Journal for a full half century. They were past seventy, and Sam's health was failing. They sold the paper on September 1, 1963, to Mr. and Mrs. Joe H. Fietsam.

Fore died at home in Floresville on December 24, 1966. President and Mrs. Johnson headed those who joined the Fores' neighbors at the Methodist church on December 26 to pay their last respects. He was survived by his wife, his two daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Emily Lamon, Sam Fore, Jr., Community Newspaper Editor (Austin: Department of Journalism Development Program, University of Texas, 1966). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Roy L. Swift, "FORE, SAM, JR.," accessed April 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffo33.

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