About the Author

Florence Stratton

Our dear friend and noted East Texas historian, Mr. W.T. Block, has agreed for his article on Miss Florence Stratton to be presented here. All of what appears below is from his article.


By W.T. Block

If it were my chore to nominate the Enterprise journalist that I thought had made the greatest contribution to Beaumont, it would certainly be Florence Stratton. Yet the younger people of 3 generations have never heard of her; hence a column of her achievements is long overdue.

Stratton was born in Brazoria, Texas in 1883, the daughter of Judge and Mrs. Asa Stratton. While she was still a child, her parents moved to Montgomery, AL., where she graduated from high school, and was valedictorian of her graduating class at Gray Normal College.

In 1905 she returned to Texas to live in the home of her sister, Mrs. Walter Stevens of Beaumont. For 2 years, she was a faculty member at Belle Austin's private academy. In 1907 she began work at the old Beaumont Journal as reporter and society and telegraph editor. At that time she began charities known as the Milk and Ice Fund and Empty Stocking Fund, which were carried on by others after Miss Stratton left the Journal.

Her best friend was Willie Cooper, daughter of Congressman S. B. Cooper of Woodville, who later married Gov. W. P. Hobby of Austin. Stratton left Beaumont, spending much time at the executive mansion in Austin, and in Washington D. C. during World War I. In 1920 she returned to Beaumont, where she quickly became society, food and garden editor of the Enterprise.

A generation of elderly Beaumonters remember Stratton best as the author of a Sunday column, beginning in 1928, known as "Susie Spindletop's Weekly Letter." She wrote under her 'Spindletop' pseudonym to her non-existent friend "Della" -- a column of society chatter; drama, vaudeville, movie and Shakespeare events; early Beaumont bygone days, etc., to a "broad spectrum of readers." One biography noted that:

"... (Her) wealth of detail at times, with which she recreated the past, or depicted the present, along with her humor, eager air of inquiry, and good-natured ... flippancy all had charm and readability for her readers..."

In 1925 she wrote and published one of her first books, "The Story of Beaumont," the first history of the city, for in that year dozens of old Beaumont pioneers were still alive. Most of the book contains her interviews with the county's oldtimers.

Four other books were to follow - "O. Henry's Postscripts," published in 1923; "Recipes of Famous Women," published in 1925; "The White Plume" in 1931; and "Where The Storm God Rides" in 1936. The latter book, a compilation of Tejas Indian folklore, was adopted by the Texas Textbook Commission as a supplementary reader for children.

Stratton built her home at 1929 McFaddin, out of bricks recovered from Beaumont's old bell-tower courthouse. Other handmade bricks in her home were baked by slave labor on her grandfather's plantation at Brazoria. Her backyard garden was a showplace of camellias and azaleas, one azalea being developed and named for her by McIlhenny Gardens in Louisiana.

Stratton was a capable journalist of unusual ability, a citizen that Beaumont can justly be proud of for decades to come. Sadly she was not destined to live a long life, nor to enjoy retirement years. In Jan., 1938, she died following surgery at a New Orleans hospital.

For more articles by Sir Block, please visit his website.
Genealogy of W.T. Block

Beaumont Newspaper Woman Expires

Beaumont, Tex., Jan 28 —AP—

Miss Florence Stratton of Beaumont, one of the state's best known newspaper women, an author of several books, died tonight in a New Orleans, La., hospital.

Miss Stratton had been on the editorial staff of the Beaumont Journal and Beaumont Enterprise for 31 years.

She had written several books dealing with the life and writings of O. Henry and with Texas legends and history.

Funeral services will be held here Sunday.

The Galveston Daily News, Saturday, January 29, 1938, page nine.

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