Mildred Watkins Mears Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US TxAM-C 192

Level of description



Mildred Watkins Mears Papers


  • 1946-1963 (Creation)


1.00 Boxes

Name of creator

Biographical history

Mildred Watkins Mears (25 August 1888- 7 October 1975), known as "Minnie," was the daughter of a pioneering family who, in 1867, settled in Pidcoke Texas, a small town in Coryell County, Texas. In 1894, after the death of Mildred Mears' father, her mother, Rosa Belcher Watkins, remarried and, in 1902, the family moved to nearby Mound, Texas. In Mound, Mears' interest in the historic past of the area was nurtured, as she spent time during her childhood exploring the ruins of the old Fort Gates.

The Mears family relocated to Gatesville after Mildred Mears' step-father won a seat in the State legislature, and sold the farm in Mound. Thus, though Mears began her formal education in a one-room school in Pidcoke, she ultimately graduated valedictorian of the Gatesville High School class of 1909. After graduating from the University of Texas, Watkins returned to Gatesville to teach mathematics, a position she held from 1910 to 1925.

During World War I and World War II, Mears served as boy's basketball coach of the high school, manager of the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce, assisted the Draft Board, worked for the American Red Cross, and was a member of the U.S.O. She was also named an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a national teachers organization.

In 1936, Mears was a representative from Coryell County to the Texas State Centennial Board and later, in 1954, served as advisor to the Coryell County Centennial Council. In 1960, she wrote a historical play, "Our Christian Heritage," which was performed in the Gatesville public schools, and won an award nomination from the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation. Mears served for many years in the Gatesville Historical Society and, in 1963, published the 253-page Coryell County Scrapbook published in Waco at the Texian Press.

Mildred Watkins was married to lawyer and legislator, Thomas Robert Mears, who died in 1967.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection consists of some correspondence, a significant number of mostly typed manuscript drafts, both published and unpublished, and a printer's galley for her book, Coryell County Scrapbook, published in 1963 by Texian Press of Waco, Texas. Also present are a few newspaper clippings, as well as handwritten and typed research notes for her published book.

The manuscript drafts reveal an engaging blend of scholarship, personal recollection, and anecdotal history chronicling the development of Coryell county from when the area was part of Coahuila, Mexico, through to its formal organization as a county in the state of Texas in 1854. Included is an account of the growth of Fort Hood as a military base in the early 1960s.

Stories are cited from early twentieth-century newspapers recounting Indian skirmishes with pioneering settlers, deeds of cattle rustlers and trail drivers, as well as events surrounding prohibition and various political rivalries. The early days of Fort Gates, now Gatesville, and the later development of Camp Hood, now Fort Hood, one of the nation's largest military installations, are described. Statistical tables and records present expenditures for, and descriptions of, buildings, jails, courthouses, prominent homes, banks, and businesses in Coryell county.

Interspersed among the political and economic accounts of the county's progress are more personal stories of weddings, births, parties, church events, legendary horses, dogs, local heroes, and even the county's centennial celebration in 1954. Mears' relatively unadorned narrative describes in some detail the increasing social, economic, and political prosperity and influence, as well as the setbacks, of Coryell County. Mears' work brings to life frontier Texas culture during the late nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth century.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically within each of the following 2 series:
Series 1. Correspondence, 1946-1963.
Series 2. Drafts, Manuscripts, Galleys, and Research Notes, 1940s-1960s.

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Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Finding aids

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Related archival materials

Mears, Mildred Watkins. Coryell County Scrapbook. Waco: Texian Press, 1963. Held in repository stacks in the Texas Collection under LC call number F392.C8 M42 1953. Cushing Memorial Library and Archives copy signed by author.

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note


  • Bailey, Clyde, and Mabel Bailey. Vignettes of Coryell County. Gatesville, Tex: Gatesville Printing Company, 1976.
  • Coryell County Centennial Souvenir Program, 1954.
  • Mears, Mildred Watkins. Coryell County Scrapbook. Waco: Texian Press 1963.
  • "Mears, Thomas Robert."The Handbook of Texas Online. [Accessed Wed Feb 5 17:33:10 US/Central 2003 ].
  • Scott, Zelma. A History of Coryell County, Texas. Minneapolis: Land Press, 1965.
  • Simmons, Frank E.History of Coryell County.Belton, Tex.: Coryell County News Press, 1936, 1965.
  • "Three Forts of Coryell County."Southwestern Historical Quarterly. Vol. 6 (July 1963).

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Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Cushing Library. All rights reserved.

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