Thomas Gray Worley biography

THOMAS GRAY WORLEY. Widely known in the druggists’ sundries and general drug business of Montague county and the oldest established business of the character in Bowie is that presided over by Thomas G. Worley of this review, whose business life has been passed within the limits of the county which he honors and whose success has been measured by the steady and upward trend of a quarter of a century of active, conservative business life.

Since 1883 the drug trade at Bowie has known Mr. Worley, at which time he came here from Montague without a cash capital, and with no property save a home in Montague town worth $500, and arranged to take a half interest in a $2,600 stock of drugs and sundries owned by White, Bivens & Company, then doing business at the foot of Mason street. His experience at the beginning of this venture embraced two years as a grocery clerk in Montague, but this only served him as a means of forming acquaintance and he was wholly without knowledge pertaining to the important business in which he was about to embark.

With the assurance that one familiar with the stock and proficient in the business would remain with the store for a time, and while he himself was becoming able to conduct the business, Mr. Worley made his trade and took his place behind the counter. Before the lapse of two weeks he was left without the experienced clerk and, although barely able to tiptoe and touch bottom, as it were, he kept a steady head, surmounted every difficulty and mastered his stock without any embarrassing consequences to the public.

At the end of a year J. S. Smith purchased the other half interest in the White, Bivens & Company, and the firm of Worley & Smith existed for two years, when Mr. Smith sold and Mr. Foreman came in, and the firm of Worley & Foreman continued in business till 1889, when the junior partner sold to the senior, and since then Thomas G. Worley has been in business alone.

Mr. Worley’s prosperity and growth in Bowie has warranted his expansion in realty lines and he has substantially aided in Bowie’s development by building him a commodious home on Mason street and shown his abiding faith in the town by purchasing other residence property here and a half interest in a business house on Smythe street.

In 1877 our subject came to Montague county and took up his residence in Montague. It was during the closing scenes of the his youth and his individual efforts promised all that contained anything substantial for him. His education was somewhat hampered and meager, yet sufficient for use as a teacher, and to this vocation he applied himself for one or two terms of country school. He was recognized, in the early years of his majority, by political leaders, and was named for and elected constable of Precinct No. 1 of Montague county. Following this he spent about eighteen months as helper in a livery barn in Montague, and then the grocery store, and out of it all some substantial accumulations had resulted.

Mr. Worley came to Texas from Hardin county, Tennessee, where his birth occurred January 17, 1857. Michael Worley, his father, was a farmer, and prior to the war, owned a few slaves and was born in Tennessee in 1794. He was twice married and in his first family of children were: John V., of Hardin county; Mrs. Margaret Williams, who died in Arkansas; Mrs. Lucinda Nichols, who passed away in Tennessee; Mrs. Louisa Brisco, who died in the home state; Mrs. Lydia Richardson, who left a family at her death in Tennessee, and Martin Worley, who died in the army during the Civil war. For his second wife Michael Worley married Livina Bost, who passed away in Montague county in 1884. Her children were: Charles P., who left a family at his death in Montague county in 1894; Abraham J., a Montague county farmer; Peter P., likewise a farmer here, and Thomas G., our subject.

In Montague county, February 17, 1886, Mr. Worley of this review married Miss Mattie Stallings, a daughter of J. W. Stallings, who came to Texas in 1875 from Coffey [Coffee] county, Alabama. Mrs. Stallings was Miss Parker before her marriage, and she was the mother of six children. Mr. and Mrs. Worley’s children are: Earnest Lee, James Andrew, John D., Lawrence Charles, Olympia, Arthur and Alton B. Parker.

Mr. Worley is without honors gained from politics, but as a citizen he has rendered public service to his town. He served six years on the city council, helped provide some of the substantial educational facilities of the city school houses and the like, and was a member of the committee on water works, which public utility was provided during his official term. From 1898 to 1902 he was city recorder, where his efficiency was shown in a clerical capacity.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 77-78.