L.W. Thomas = Lee Wilder Thoms
Posted in the Limestone County Forum
#1 Oct 24, 2008
Lee Wilder Thomas, known as Rev. L.W. Thomas,(August 15, 1873- April 11, 1953) was a prominent African-American business and oil man. L.W. Thomas was among the lucky land owners in the Mexia, Texas oil field. In the early 1930's, he partnered with Jake Simmons, Jr., another wealthy African-American oil broker. Together, these two men built Simmons Royalty Co., one of the leading African-American oil and mineral right royalty companies in the the state of Oklahoma.
Born in Springfield & Tehuacana, Limestone County, Texas. L.W., the only child born to Boss Thomas and Bettie Arbuckle. His father, Boss Thomas was an early Alabaman who migrated and re-settled in Texas.
As a young boy, he grew a calling to the "Lord", our God in heaven to preach the gosple. He attended the Sardis Primitive Baptist Church, Mexia, Limestone County, Texas.
He received his early education in the Mexia, and would later attend and graduate college from Wiley College, Marshall, Texas. After graduating college L.W. married Clemmie Estella Ross in 1895. This union would produce thirteen children.
In 1912 a large natural gas deposit was discovered by the Mexia Gas and Oil Company. Oil was discovered in 1920. L.W. Thomas was among the lucky land owners in the 1920 Mexia, Texas oilfield strike. He had ten producing oil wells on his property.
The excitement of booming fields in three-counties fostered crime and social problems that forced Governor Pat Morris Neff, on January 12, 1922, to order martial law for Justice Precinct No. 4 in Limestone County and No. 5 in Freestone County to deal with robberies, gambling, and alcohol sales. But the boom rolled on, and at the end of 1922 the fields showed a markedly-increased combined yearly yield of nearly 34.8 million barrels of oil.
L.W. Thomas came to Oklahoma with a vision of estabishing a model community on the Jefferson Highway (U.S. 69), eight (8) miles southwest of Muskogee.
He came to Muskogee County July of 1922 with a dream of establishing a model community, Summit, for African-Americans.
He came from Mexia, Texas where he had ten producing oil wells on his land.
He invested more than $100,000 in Muskogee County real estate.
He divided the site into lost and put them up for sale as well as surrounding property which he divided into small farms.
He said the land was to be sold to African-Americans with preference being given to those from Texas.
He had already erected a building housing a general store and another as a real estate office. A cotton gin was under construction, and workmen were working round the clock to have it finished for the fall crop.
He had built a $12,000 house on a nearby hill and was reserving adjoining lots for additional better class homes.
In addition to growing cotton and peanuts, he was going to encourage the growing of vegetables for the Muskogee and Tulsa market.
The 1932 Muskogee City Directory indicated that L.W. Thomas was president of the Jake Simmons, Jr., Simmons Royalty Co.
St. Thomas Primitive Baptist Church
St. Thomas Primitive Baptist Church is a historic church building in Summit, Muskogee County, Oklahoma. It was erected in 1922 by the Rev. L.W. Thomas of Mexia, Limestone County, Texas. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
St. Thomas Primitive Cemetery
Location: Sec. 20, R18E, T14N, Muskogee County
Condition: Some maintenance
St. Thomas Primitive Cemetery is owned and managed by L.W. Thomas, Summit, Oklahoma. He is also the owner of the Wright-Smith Undertaking Co. of Muskogee, Oklahoma.
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