The Pecos Independent and Enterprise
April 2, 1962
(Lead story cut out before microfilming)
Bracero wages set at 70 cents
The U.S. Department of Labor disclosed Friday that it had sent the minimum wage rate for Mexican national farm laborers at 70 cents an hour in Texas.
Earlier this year, members of the Trans-Pecos Cotton Asociation said 70 cents an hour was the maximum they could afford to pay for farm labor.
Robert C. Godwin, administrator of the Bureau of Employment Security, declared that the wages were set at levels determined to be sufficient to prevent adverse effects on domestic laborers by the imported braceros.
April 5, 1962
Pecos waiting, two petitions filed
Pecos found itself waiting again this afternoon.
Waiting on a federal grand jury in El Paso which is probing a charge against Billie Sol Estes of conspiracy and transporting a fraudulent chattel mortgage in interstate commerce.
Waiting on a meeting of finance company representatives to decide whether to file involuntary bankruptcy proceedings.
Waiting to see if a mammoth civil suit by a large number of local farmers is filed seeking to cancel the chattel mortgages and other agreements they signed in connection with anhydrous ammonia tanks.
And while Pecos was waiting, Wednesday two Pecos farmers filed a civil action seeking cancellation of the mortgages and agreements and charging that CIT Corporation conspired with Estes on the deals.
It brought the total number of suits filed in connection with the tanks to six, amounting to approximately $9 million.
Latest to file suit were T.J. Wilson and Lewis Swain Thomas, both of Pecos.
Named as defendants in the suits were Estes and some of his business firms plus CIT, Superior Manufacturing Company and two of its officers, Harold E. Orr and W. H. King, both of Amarillo.
In their petitions, both Wilson and Thomas claim that Estes and Orr acted as agents for CIT when they persuaded them "by false pretext, false statements, misrepresentatives and other inducements" to sign mortgages.
Wilson's petition said he received a $7,500 check drawn on the Farmer's Company for signing, while Thomas got $7,500 credit from Billie Sol Estes Enterprises.
At the time the mortgages were executed, according to the suits, Estes gave each of the farmers an equipment lease on the tanks providing for a cash rental of $1,575 per month for five years.
This is the same amount of the monthly payments due CIT which now holds the mortgages.
No demand was made on either Wilson or Thomas by CIT for the monthly payments, according to the petition. CIT accepted payments for 11 months or some business organization under his control.
Payments have now been in default since March 15, the petitions said.
Both suits expressed belief that the tanks for which they contracted actually existed. Wilson's tanks were supposed to be in Hale County, and Thomas' in Reeves County.
At the time the contracts were made, said the petitions, W.H. King was representing CIT and actually participated in "the negotiations and conspiracies" between Estes and Orr. They said his "knowledge and information was necessarily imputed to the defendant CIT Corporation."
King later quit CIT to become a vice president of Superior, the petitions said.
They added that CIT did not pay the face value for the mortgages because it knew the "instruments were invalid by reason of the existing conspiracy, false statements and misrepresentations."
They said CIT: discounted this and other similar chattel mortgages throughout this area to such an extent as to show their guilty knowledge and participation."
Both petitions also contend that the purported obligations to CIT are uncollectable because the rate of interest on them is "far in excess of the legal rate."
If they are mistaken about CIT's collusion, then the firm permitted its agents to accept chattel mortgages on equipment without making any investigation to determine if the equipment existed, the suits say.
Granted soon after the petitions were filed was a temporary restraining order issued on CIT to keep the firm from disposing of the chattel mortgages. A hearing was set for April 12 at 9:30 a.m. in 143rd District Court.
In earlier action in connection with the Estes transactions, Anderson, Clayton and Company took over the crops for the coming year.
A telegram by Estes to his creditors said "Anderson, Clayton and Company has offered, and I have consented to turn over to it effective today (Tuesday) supervision and control of present and future crop operations which they have the right to have under existing financing agreements filed for record."
Officials of Anderson, Clayton and Company confirmed the telegram and said they would plant and harvest the cotton crop.
The Pecos Independent and Enterprise
April 9, 1962
Judge picks receiver for Estes Enterprises
Harry Moore Jr., vice president of El Paso National Bank, Sunday was named as the receiver for the enterprises of Billie Sol Estes of Pecos.
The bank official was appointed by U.S. District Judge R. E. Thomason of El Paso after granting a debtor's petition Saturday which was filed in federal court in El Paso by attorneys for Estes.
Moore was to take the oath of receivership at 9 a.m. today and leave immediately for Dallas where he will confer with officials of the Commodity Credit Corporation.
A $10 million bond must be posted with the CCC which is in charge of
Along with granting the petition, Judge Thomason signed a stay order designed to halt the growing number of civil suits being lodged against the 37-year-old Pecosite.
Civil suits, totaling approximately $10 million, have been lodged against Estes and several finance companies charging conspiracy to defraud. Persons filing the suits were signers of chattel mortgages for anhydrous ammonia tanks.
The first receiver appointed Saturday by Judge Thomason was Emil C. Rassman of Midland. The Midland attorney declined the appointment, however, because of prior commitments.
Judge Thomason, in granting the debtor's petition, said, "It was done for the purpose of reorganization with the hope of keeping some of the businesses going and salvaging as much as possible."
Representatives of 12 finance companies, who claim to have $22 million tied up in mortgages on anhydrous ammonia tanks in West Texas, joined the attorneys for Estes in asking that a receiver be appointed and save as much as possible for creditors.
Representing Estes at the hearing Saturday in El Paso were Bill Kerr and Irby Dyer, both of Midland, and John Dennison of Pecos.
Judge Thomason granted a 30-day extension in which to file a complete list of Estes' assets and liabilities after the attorneys said his liabilities were $40 million.
Filed with the petition was a list of creditors which consisted of 18 pages with two columns of creditors on each page.
The motion filed for Estes said, "Because of adverse publicity of the financial affairs of Billie Sol Estes the normal flow of income has been interrupted and creditors are accelerating the maturity of obligations and demanding immediate payment "with the result that the petitioner is unable to pay the debts as they mature."
Dyer told the court, "Mr. Estes does not say he is bankrupt. On the contrary, he recognizes his debts and will do all possible to pay them off. But it is necessary for protection of all creditors to make this arrangement."
Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Will Wilson has called two courts of inquiry to delve into possible antitrust violations by Estes.
"We have substantial evidence of violations of the Texas antitrust laws in the sale by Billie Sol Estes Enterprises of anhydrous ammonia to farmers in West Texas at below-cost prices," Wilson said.
The attorney general also said, "The sale of this fertilizer in violation of the antitrust laws is closely linked with the Estes grain storage operations and we expect to be able to develop a fairly complete picture of his entire operations through the courts of inquiry."
The first court of inquiry will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Amarillo, where witnesses will include officials of Superior Manufacturing Company, which builds anhydrous ammonia tanks.
The second hearing will be held Wednesday in Plainview. Fertilizer dealers and grain elevator officials will be called to testify at this court.
Estes and three other West Texans were indicted Thursday on nine counts of conspiring to bilk nine finance companies with fake mortgages on anhydrous ammonia tanks, some of which never existed.
Estes currently is free on a $100,000 bond which was reduced from a record-breaking $500,000.
A federal grand jury returned the indictments late Thursday against Estes, Harold E. Orr, Ruel W. Alexlander and Coleman McSpadden, all officials of Superior Manufacturing Company of Amarillo.
April 12, 1962
Court of Inquiry due here Saturday
Three Estes employees ordered to appear
The fourth in a series of courts of inquiry by Attorney General Will Wilson will be held Saturday in Pecos.
A petition setting the court was filed here Wednesday by two of Wilson's assistants, Gilbert Hargrave and Ivan Williams.
Purpose of the court of inquiry is to investigate possible antitrust violations in connection with Billie Sol Estes' agriculture empire.
Similar courts were held in Amarillo, Plainview and Dallas.
Presiding at the session Saturday will be County Judge F. H. Ryan. The court is set for 9 a.m. in the county courtroom.
The petition filed Wednesday alleges that persons residing in Reeves County may have knowledge of anti-trust violations.
By Thursday morning three persons had been subpoenaed for the court.
Subpoenas have been issued for A. B. Foster Jr., business manager for Billie Sol Estes Enterprises; Charles "Chuck" Wesson, general manager of the Farmer's Company, and Adam Garcia, an employee of Estes Enterprises.
Williams said others probably would be subpoenaed for the court later today or tomorrow.
Following the courts in Amarillo and Plainview, Attorney General Wilson said he had "established direct evidence of cutting prices of ammonia below cost to eliminate competition."
The court of inquiry in Dallas was underway today as the attorney general attempts to link Estes and Commercial Solvents Corporation, manufacturers of anhydrous ammonia.
In surprise testimony at Dallas this morning, an official of Nieman-Marcus, exclusive clothing store, testified that Estes had clothing fitted for two U.S. Department of Agriculture officials last year.
He said Estes also shipped $245 suits and $65 slacks to a Washington address.
An auditor with Nieman-Marcus identified sales slips totalling more than $2,500 for goods bought by Estes at the store.
The testimony came as the attorney general attempted to establish that Estes curried favor with USDA officials.
Although federal judges have issued stay orders prohibiting civil suits being filed against Estes and Coleman McSpadden of Lubbock, also under federal indictment, 14 suits were filed Wednesday in Lubbock against companies involved in anhydrous ammonia transactions.
Named as endorsers of the notes involved in the actions were Lubbock Machine and Supply Company of Lubbock and Superior Manufacturing Company of Amarillo. The Lubbock company was named as endorser in five of the suits and Superior in nine.
Named in the suits, with Superior as endorser, with the amount allegedly still owed were Gene Lutrick, $50,320; Stanley Magee, $52,277; Robert Travis, $40,898; J.W. Hill, $29,409; James Minni, $51,836; James Speights, $39,934; Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Duncan and Mr. and Mrs. Alan Hoefs, $37,026; L.C. Moore, $36,340; and S.E. Hall, $53,869.
Defendants in sits with Lubbock Machine were Jack Bradley and J.H. Bradley, $27,187; J.D. Greeson, three suits; Barton Cramer, $29,279; Robert Bradley, $27,885, and H.W. Elam, $26,492.
All of the individuals live in Reeves and Hudspeth counties, except Greeson whose address is Deaf Smith County.
Starley issues temporary writ
A temporary injunction enjoining several finance companies from disposing of records and agreements connected with anhydrous ammonia tank transactions was granted today in 143rd District Court.
Judge J.H. Starley granted the injunction after attorneys for all concerned reached an agreement to continue a temporary restraining order issued recently by Judge Starley.
Exempt from the injunction are Billie Sol Estes and his businesses and Coleman McSpadden of Lubbock. Federal judges have issued stay orders on Estes and McSpadden which prohibits civil actions against the two men.
The stay order on Estes, recently indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of interstate transportation of fraudulent chattel mortgages, was issued after Estes' attorneys filed a debtor's petition in El Paso.
Estes' far-flung operations have since been thrown into receivership.
McSpadden's stay order was issued in Lubbock after the Lubbock man initiated voluntary bankruptcy proceedings.
The injunction hearing this morning was a result of two suits filed by J.C. Barnes Sr., J.C. Barnes Jr., Russell Ramsland, W.F. Wynn, J.C. Williamson, Williamson Petroleum Company, Lewis Swain Thomas and T.J. Wilson.
Thomas and Wilson are Pecos residents, while the remainder are from Midland.
Defendants named in the suits included Estes, McSpadden, Harold E. Orr of Amarillo, CIT Corporation, Pacific Finance Company, Commercial Credit Corporation, Leasing, Inc., Lubbock Machine and Supply Company, Walter E. Heller and Company, Inc., Kuykendall Investment Company and Commercial Solvents.
A plea in abatement, entering the general stay orders, was introduced and was honored by Judge Starley.
Attorneys for the defendants said their clients had agreed to turn over chattel mortgages and other agreements concerning the tanks to them.
The injunction is in force until the cases are tried.
April 19, 1962
Probe underway to study storage growth
A court of inquiry to study the rapid expansion of grain storage facilities by Billie Sol Estes of Pecos got underway at 10 a.m. today in Lubbock.
Seven persons have been subpoenaed there as witnesses, while three or four others may appear as voluntary witnesses. All are connected with the grain storage business.
The president of United Elevators of Plainview testified this morning that Estes talked an Agriculture Department official out of increasing the bond on Estes grain storage facilities. If a grain storage business wants to expand, it must pay higher bond to the government.
Wayne Cooper, the elevator manager, said that storage capacity in the Plainview elevators had more than doubles, and still has not had any bond raise.
another elevator man testified that Estes planned to set up 100 small grain receiving stations to try to drive the small grain storage men out of business.
Under the plan, Estes trucks would pick up the grain almost as it was harvested from the fields, and grain elevators in town would be left high and dry. Lloyd Burriss of Plainview, who owns grain elevators at Tulia and Hart, testified.
The Lubbock hearing is the fifth to be conducted by the Attorney General Will Wilson. A similar hearing was held here last Saturday.
Wilson also will reconvene a Dallas court of inquiry Friday to receive testimony from Dr. James T. Ralph, a former top Agriculture Department official now in training for a STate Department job as agricultural attache in the Philippines.
Emery E. Jacobs, who recently resigned his job with the Agriculture Department, has declined to appear at the Dallas court because of a "conflict of engagements."
William E. Morris also has resigned a position with the agriculture department, and his wife, Alice, also quit her job as secretary to Rep. E. Edmundson, Morris is not expected to testify.
Testimony here last Saturday indicted that Morris accepted a $100 hat from Estes, while Mrs. Morris wrote a weekly column for the Pecos Daily News for which she was paid $296 per month during February and March.
C. H. Moseley, director of the Dallas office of the Commodity Stabilization Office in Dallas, said Estes elevators on the South Plains are filled to about 53 percent of capacity with government-owned grain. This is no more and possibly less than other elevators in the same area, Moseley said.
The attorney general agreed with Moseley, but added:
"Mr. Estes was the only grain man to make wholesale expansions of his grain storage facilities during the last two or three years. That rapid expansion interests us. We want to know why and how."
Wilson has been making a transparent effort to show that Estes influenced Agriculture Department officials by gifts to store grain in his elevators. He has alleged that Estes wanted to "corner the market."
Testimony has shown that government payments to Estes for grain storage rose from $850,000 in 1959 to $3.7 million in 1961.
Moseley said the storage elevators known to be under the control of Estes are United Elevators at five locations with a total capacity of 51,615,279 bushels of grain, and South Plains Grain INc., at one location, with a capacity of 2,46t4,000 bushels.
The federal official said his office is still seeking to determine whether Estes has any connection with three other storage companies.
If all five companies are included in the totals, Estes' capacity for storage is 87 million bushels, with about 46 million bushels of grain in his bins, Moseley said.
Meanwhile, reports from Washington, D.C. show:
1. The federal General Accounting Office, congressional watchdog agency, has begun looking into Estes' operations.
2. The House Government Operations Committee said it will take a "close look" at all Department of Agriculture grain storage activities "and Mr. Estes' government grain storage activities in particular."
April 19, 1962
Crystal Water showplace at home on prairie
By Marj Carpenter
Crystal Waters Ranch Home, which burned down several years ago, was one of the showplaces of the west at one time.
It was located about 25 miles from Pecos on the Coyanosa Road where now remains a small church which was in the same area and which was attended by surrounding ranch families.
The three-story building, which was surrounded by miles of nothingness, could really be seen for miles and was one of the most beautiful in the area. There was added to it in later years a small electric plant which generated electricity for the home.
Most people believe that the house was built around 1914. The owner was J.C. Trees and he built the home for his foreman, Joe Lavine.
At that time, the surrounding land was being farmed. Mr. and Mrs. Lavine and their small son lived in the huge house for many years.
Many other families lived in the home but none seemed to stay long. One person supposed that it was the desolation that kept people from staying there long, but one housewife remarked that it was probably trying to keep that much house clean in West Texas dust storms that caused families to come and go.
The first floor was first used as a large living room, equally large dining room, a kitchen and a glassed-in porch on the front, which faced east.
The second floor held four bedrooms, all with large walk-in closets and a bathroom, which later had modern fixtures. A long room with solid windows connected two of the bedrooms.
The entire third floor held a ballroom. The basement housed the furnace, equipment for washing and later a small electric plant.
One of the stories connected with the house is that when the first occupants left, they left all the furnishings as if they were going on a weekend trip.
A three-car garage with a gasoline tank in front was built to one side of the house. Mr. Lavine was one of the first owners of an automobile in the area.
At last report, the Trees estate still owns the property. Early Pecos residents report that Lavine is known to be dead and nobody seems to know where his only son now resides.
Many early ranch homes in the area have at one time or another been destroyed by fire, because they were too far for a fire department to be of any help in time.
Crystal Waters was undoubtedly a real show place of its time. It was a gathering place for all occasions, from church services to community dances.
The thing that made it the more striking was the fact that it stood all alone with miles of nothingness all around it.
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