A. P. (Ace) Borger

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Asa Phillip (Ace) Borger (April 12, 1888 – August 31, 1934), the founder of Borger, Texas, was born to Phillip Borger and the former Minnie Ann West on a family farm near Carthage, Missouri. His father, a veterinarian, died when Borger was just six years old. He and his siblings were reared by their mother and grandmothers. Borger attended school in Carthage and graduated from business college. Sometime around 1907 he married classmate Elizabeth Willoughby. They spent their first years in a rented farmhouse near Carthage where Borger opened a lumber yard. The couple had three children.

Borger began his career as a town promoter at the time of World War I. In 1915 Borger and his younger brother Lester Andrew, known as Pete Borger, sold land in Picher, Oklahoma, which was in the center of valuable lead and zinc deposits. In 1917 the Borgers, partnered with noted oilman Tom Slick, set up the oil town of Slick near Bristow, Oklahoma. At each town the Borgers and their associates opened hotels, gasoline stations, lumberyards, sold land, and pushed for the building of railroad lines to their towns. In 1922 they successfully started Cromwell, Oklahoma, as a boomtown. Though Borger and his family maintained a home for a short time in each of his new towns, he continued to use Carthage as his main base of operations.

Borger soon became interested in the discovery of oil in the Texas Panhandle. Early in 1926 he purchased 240 acres (0.97 km2) in southern Hutchinson County from rancher John Frank Weatherly at a price of fifty dollars an acre. He then obtained a grant from Secretary of State of Texas Emma Grigsby Meharg to organize the Borger Townsite Company, with capital of $10,000 divided into 100 shares of $100. In addition to Mr. Borger the company's stockholders included C. C. Horton of the Gulf Oil Company and John R. Miller, an old friend of Borger's from the Oklahoma boom days, who became the new town's first mayor. The Borger Townsite Company laid out the town and opened the sale of lots on March 8, 1926. By the end of the day, the company had grossed between $60,000 and $100,000. Six months later Borger had sold out completely, for the price of more than a million dollars.

Borger established a lumberyard in his namesake town, and opened its first bank as well. Often he took out full-page advertisements in area newspapers that promoted settlement in Borger and other oil-rich communities throughout West Texas and eastern New Mexico in which he had bought an interest. Mr. Borger also owned several wheat elevators in the area and also 19,000 acres (77 km²) of farmland in Hansford County. In 1927 Ace and Pete Borger, with Albert S. Stinnett, established the towns of Stinnett, Texas, and Gruver, Texas, and the group was influential in making the town of Stinnett the Hutchinson county seat. In 1929 Borger built a spacious two-story brick residence, the first such house in town. From the start he had set aside sites for building churches and schools. Visiting dignitaries were lavishly entertained in the Borger home, which Mrs. Borger decorated with fine antiques. [1]

Borger's overt generosity with friends and acquaintances caused hard feelings among certain folks, particularly county treasurer Arthur Huey. Huey's dislike for Borger intensified after the Borger State Bank (which Borger had established in June 1930 as president and his son Phillip as vice president) failed, causing a minor panic. The elder Borger was later convicted of taking deposits while the bank was insolvent and received a two-year prison term, which he appealed. Meanwhile, Arthur Huey was jailed for embezzlement and reportedly asked Borger to help bail him out. When Borger declined, Huey threatened his life. On August 31, 1934, Borger was getting his mail at the post office when Huey walked in with a Colt .45, cursed and shot him five times. Huey then took Borger's own .44 pistol and fired four more times. Bystander Lloyd Duncan, farm boss for the Magnolia Petroleum Company, was severely wounded in the attack and died five days later. At Huey's trial, which was held in Canadian, Texas, Huey claimed that he acted in self-defense, arguing that Borger was instead out to kill him. The jury acquitted him. Three years later, however, Huey was sentenced to the state penitentiary for theft of county funds.

The funeral for Ace Borger was held in Borger, and then his body was shipped back to Missouri for burial in the family plot in Carthage.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online - BORGER, TX". www.tshaonline.org. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-29.