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September 26, 1895|
|Died||March 22, 1976
Prior to enlisting for military service, Arthur worked in the lumber business, handling a canthook on the skidway of a small East Texas saw mill for $1.50 a day. Another early job was pushing a wheelbarrow filled with mortar to help build a brick plant near Garrison, Texas. This job also paid $1.50 a day. This was six-day work, but he had to spend fifty cents a day seven days a week for board. He then got a job picking cotton for fifty cents per hundred pounds of cotton—with free board. He made enough profit to make a good start toward growing a crop of his own in East Texas.
World War I
He enlisted in World War I and served with the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division in which he received battle stars at St. Mihiel, Champagne and Meuse-Argonne. Based on his military records he was active from August 5, 1917 until August 18, 1919 and he was promoted from private to Sergeant. During the war, he made friends with a young woman, Marta, in the village in Germany near which he was stationed. After World War II he sent gifts to aid her and her family during the rebuilding of Germany. He always received thank-you letters from her, written in English, telling him a little about her family. He wrote her once and said in it that when he was a bombing officer during the war he always thought of her when they would go on a bombing raid.
The IRS and Oil
After his discharge from the Army, he returned to Rusk County and married Elizabeth Gage of Laneville, Texas in 1919. He farmed in Rusk County for a year, and realized late in 1920 that his savings were gone and his farming prospects were not good. He then took the job of a substitute railway clerk in Houston. His job was to toss the bags full of mail off the "mail car"—a freight car in which the postal workers were sorting, bagging and delivering mail. At this time, he and his wife resided at 706 Smith Street with their daughter, Elizabeth Inez Harvey (born January 15, 1921). This address, 706 Smith Street, is where the Federal building is now located in downtown Houston. By 1926, Arthur Harvey had reached the top salary possible as a railway mail clerk. When he had gone as far as he could go in the Post Office, he felt he had to open up more opportunities somehow. He found out that the Internal Revenue Service offered very good possibilities, but to go there he had to take a demotion. This decision meant a lower salary and that he would have to sell their house.
In order to get at job with the IRS, he needed to study for exams, which he took just as fast as he was eligible. To do this he carried small cards in his suit jacket pocket with the information noted on them. He would study these whenever he had a few minutes, and even when he was in his 70's he used those "flash cards" to learn Spanish. He passed all the IRS exams and began working for Bureau of Internal Revenue in 1926. He quickly moved up the ranks and became a highly ranked auditor. He handled many fraud investigations for what is now the Criminal Division of the Internal Revenue Service, being stationed in Dallas and Tyler and working throughout the nation. Eventually he would write the manual on what constitutes criminal fraud in tax matters. That manual was still in use many years later (Joyce Neville, July 10, 2006).
In 1928 Arthur's wife, Elizabeth Gage, died. Shortly after, he met Sylva Irene Vogelsong of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and they were married in 1929. In the years that followed they had two children: Arthur Herbert Harvey in 1931 and Sylva Anne Harvey in 1933. Around this same time, while still working for the IRS, Arthur began to learn something about the oil business by auditing some oil men. After intense study (the oil business was new at the time), he had a chance to make an investment in a percentage of royalty in a little piece of real estate that soon became famous as the East Texas Oil Field, home of Spindletop and other historic gushers. With the money he had saved from oil royalties while he continued to work for the BIR/IRS, he was able to drill his own well in 1939. He chose Marion County, Illinois, for his first operation, which resulted in the discovery of the Tonti oil field. This field has produced several million barrels of oil. Since Mr. Harvey owned the center of this field, the Tex-Harvey Oil Company was set up to handle its development. It was later sold. But Arthur continued to drill wells as the money came in from his Illinois boom. He took many chances and came up dry on nine different ventures until the tenth, which he drilled in Anderson County, Texas in 1941. This latest drilling brought on the discovery of the East Long Lake field, all of which was now owned by the Harvey Company.
World War II
Arthur Harvey volunteered again for military service in World War II and was commissioned a captain in the Army Air Forces. He was sent to Italy as intelligence Officer (S2) for the 449th Bombardment Group (Heavy). This unit conducted strategic bombings in Northern Italy, Southern France, Yugoslavia, and other areas. The group was given a unit citation for its attack on the Ploieşti oil fields in Romania, vital to the Nazis. Harvey came out of World War II a major.
Major Harvey returned to the United States and resumed active management of the "Tex" Harvey Oil Company, of which he was president and sole owner. He published the book Creed of an American Business Man and has a park in Denver, Colorado named after him (Harvey Park—although it is a park, it is also more fundamentally a neighborhood).
Mr. Harvey died on March 22, 1976 and was buried in Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado (Section Q site 7142).
- Crowell, Evelyn Miller, ed. Texas Edition: Men of Achievement, John Moranz Associates, Dallas, Texas, 1948. pp. 66–67.
- Neville, Joyce. Letter. 24 April. 2005.
- "Prominent Businessman Of Denver in 1950s Dies." The Denver Post 24 March 1976, late ed.: 32.