Johnnie Mae Hackworth Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

TxAM-CRS 776

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Johnnie Mae Hackworth Papers


  • 1849-1980 (Creation)
  • 1935-1980 (Creation)


21.00 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Johnnie Mae Hackworth was born on November 16, 1904 in Brenham, Texas. She was one of five children born to Victor and Gertrude Ralston Hackworth. Both her parents had deep roots in Texas history (a fact of which Johnnie Mae was very proud) - her mother's parents had, in fact, been members of Austin's Colony. Hackworth attended public schools in Brenham and later in Dallas.

In 1921, under what may have been forced circumstances (i.e. Hackworth was pregnant), Hackworth married Herschel A. Watson of Dallas. The couple produced two children, Herschel, Jr. (born 1922) and John Brooks (born 1924), but were divorced in 1926. The two boys would be Hackworth's only children.

Hackworth attended the Metropolitan Business College in Dallas, and worked for a time as a secretary for the Otis Elevator Company there. She moved to Austin, where she served as secretary to Texas House Speaker Fred Miner.  In 1935-1936 she was Calendar Clerk of the Texas House of Representatives, experience on which she later drew when running for political office. After failing in 1937 to retain her clerkship Hackworth moved to Washington DC and worked briefly as a secretary for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

In late 1937 Hackworth married Edwin A. Schaufler (1871-1957) of Witchita, Kansas, a railroad executive with the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway and later with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. In the 1940s the couple moved back to Hackworth's native Brenham, where they purchased the clubhouse and land of the Brenham Country Club which would be their home as well as Hackworth's base for her religious and political activities.

After her husband Edwin's death in 1957, she turned her attention towards two particular religious occupations. In Houston she established on Lyons Avenue the Church of America, which she later renamed the Globe Church. At her home in Brenham Hackworth established the American Bible College, an unaccredited institution formed to spread the word of Christ. The ABC experienced a number of name changes over the years, including the New Jerusalem Fellowship, the House of Prayer, the Children of God, the Children of Zion (Zion Colony), and Zion On The Hill. Some of these transformations seem to have been dictated by economic exigencies, while others may have been due to Hackworth's mercurial and unpredictable nature. [The Children of God title dates from Hackworth's connection with the "Children of God" Christian youth movement in the early 1970s. Hackworth's operation was part of a statewide network of places of refuge for wandering and disaffected youths. She provided free room and board to members of the sect (as many as 150 at a time, by some accounts), and also supplied liberal doses of her own peculiar brand of religious instruction.] Hackworth used her Brenham base as a site for printing many of her newsletters, press releases and other documents and messages.

Hackworth seems to have been mentally unstable. She considered herself a prophet, and later as the actual wife of God. She was known for writing long, rambling and repetitive religious screeds (many composed while in a trancelike state, according to her granddaughter) that combined mystic visions with End Times prophecy and more traditional biblical interpretations, with a large dollop of numerology. She was obsessed with the "true" meanings of names of political and other important figures, and also was deeply concerned with ferreting out and revealing the true identity of the 'Antichrist'. Included among the people that Hackworth considered the Antichrist or some other figure of great evil were Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bernard Baruch, John Connally, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. She also believed that her hometown of Brenham was the site of the original Garden of Eden.

The reasons for Hackworth's mental condition are not clear. She may have had some family history of mental instability, or her condition may have been the result of syphilis, which Hackworth once claimed had been given to her by her first husband.

Hackworth, in fact, got into serious trouble over her erratic behavior. In September 1955 she was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service for making a threat against President Eisenhower, and for a time was confined to a mental institution in Austin. She was arrested again in April 1960 for again making threats and briefly returned to the mental hospital. In September 1964 she was arrested once more, this time for threatening President Johnson. She was temporarily jailed for the crime.

Hackworth intimately combined her religious views with her political opinions, which tended heavily towards the right-wing (including an end to the concept of separation of church and state). She formally entered the political arena in 1946, when she ran against Lyndon B. Johnson for the Democratic nomination for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1960 she ran as one of a number of candidates seeking to fill Johnson's senatorial seat (vacated by Johnson when he became Vice-President). In 1964 and again in 1966 Hackworth ran in the Democratic primary for Texas governor against John Connolly. In 1968, 1972, and 1976, she ran as a write-in candidate for President of the United States. In each election her fervent Christianity and, later, her identity as a prophet, played heavily into her campaigns.

Of course, Hackworth lost badly every time. However, her political 'career' provides the Hackworth Papers with numerous examples of her political beliefs, expressed in correspondence and campaign materials.

Johnnie Mae Hackworth died in Brenham, TX on April 13, 1980. Before her death, she had married once more, in 1958 to Gustav Adoph Eckman (died 1961?).

Edwin Henry Schaufler

Edwin H. Schaufler was born on January 7, 1871 on a farm in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. In 1883 he took a job as a message boy with the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad. He later had several jobs with the Kansas City, Southern and Northern Line, including motorman and conductor.  As General Manager with the KC Southern, he befriended railroad executive Arthur Stilwell (the namesake of Port Arthur, TX), and helped Stilwell to found the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway. Schaufler served as General Manager of that line, too, until it was acquired in 1928 by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

After acquistion, Schaufler became the assistant to the General Manager of the AT &SF's Western Line, until his retirement in 1942. He retired to Brenham with his wife Johnnie Mae Hackworth (whom he married in November 1937), and died in Houston on April 25, 1957.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection contains the personal papers and writings of Texas religious figure and sometime-political candidate Johnnie Mae Hackworth. The collection documents Hackworth's life; her political campaigns for Governor, Senator, and President;  her conservative political views; and her colorful and unorthodox religious beliefs.

Hackworth's papers contains correspondence to and from Hackworth, Hackworth's notebooks, her various political and religious/prophetic writings, religious and political writings from others that were collected by Hackworth, photographs, and various pieces of ephemera. Notable and predominant among her correspondence are long and rambling letters that Hackworth wrote to political, media and law enforcement figures in Texas as well as on the national level.

Also included is correspondence and other materials from Hackworth's second husband Edwin A. Schaufler, a longtime railroad executive.

System of arrangement

Materials are arranged into the following series: Hackworth Correspondence, Hackworth Writings, Other Writings, Additional Subjects, Schaufler, Edwin, Audiovisual Materials, Photographs, and Oversize Materials. Contents are generally arranged chronologically within folders.

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No restrictions.

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Languages of the material

  • English

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Finding aids

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Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Donation. Note that Smith's donation does not comprise all of Hackworth's papers. Apparently at some time after her death, unknown parties ransacked her house and destroyed or damaged some of the papers.


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Related archival materials

Baylor University in Waco also holds a number of Hackworth's papers, donated to her by Baylor in the 1970s.

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Archivist's note

Finding Aid Authors: Jeremy Brett.

Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Agronomy Road. All rights reserved.

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