THOMAS MERIWETHER MARKS. The influence of the press of Jack county received a significant impetus when four years since Thomas M. Marks became the editor and proprietor of the Jacksboro News. His acquaintance with the practical affairs of a printshop, his capability as a news-gatherer and his ability in presenting entertainingly the facts of local history as they occur from day to day, and, lastly, his possession of those personal traits which always attract humankind equip him for a career of usefulness in the journalistic field of his favorite county.
The family which our subject represents was established in Jack county in 1877 by Frank M. Marks, his father, who came hither from Cleveland county, Arkansas, and settled upon a farm some miles out from Jacksboro, where the father passed his remaining years and died in 1890. The latter was a plain and passingly successful farmer, with an honorable ancestry and of Alabama birth. His birth year was 1826, and when seven years of age his father, John Harvie Marks, took up his residence in Arkansas, and near Pine Bluff the senior Marks opened a farm, built a grist mill and brought up his several children to become honorable men and women.
John Harvie Marks was born in Albemarle county, Virginia, and was descended from John and Lady Elizabeth (Hastings) Marks, who emigrated from England and settled near the eastern shore of Virginia while our country was still a dependency of the British crown. From these pioneer ancestors have sprung many generations, and the branches from this family tree have ramifications in many of the commonwealths of our federal union. Distinguished among their posterity was Colonel John Marks, a soldier of the Revolution, who married Lucy Meriwether, the mother of Meriwether Lewis, a prominent figure in American history during the formative period of our national life. In the county of his adopted Arkansas home John Harvie Marks was recognized as a good business man and a citizen of a high order. He espoused Democracy in politics, was honored with the confidence of his fellow-citizens and was sent to the state legislature to represent his county before the war. He was twice married, and by his first wife had Frank M., Rebecca, who married Judge Sorrels; Martha, wife of Madison Hudson; William D., who died in Arkansas; Emily, who became Mrs. Thomas M. Dansby, of Arkansas. Children were born to him by his second wife also, and he passed away near the scenes of his active life at the ripe age of eighty years.
Frank M. Marks was from an educational standpoint a product of the Arkansas rural schools, and later attended a college in Georgia. For a companion in life he married Rebecca Dansby, whose father, Robert Dansby, was a native Georgian, emigrating from Oglethorpe county, where Rebecca S. was born in 1840. Mrs. Marks resides with her son on the old homestead in Jack county, and is the mother of Mary, wife of John Bussey, of Cleveland county, Arkansas; Harriet, who married H. Reeves and lives at Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Thomas M., of this sketch; Eleanor and Frank Harvie who reside on the Jack county farm.
From the age of seven to his fifteenth year Thomas M. Marks was a youthful aid to the conduct of the family rural estate in Jack county. At the latter age he took a seat at the printer’s case in Fort Worth, first on the Stock Journal and then on the Fort Worth Gazette, passing three years in a printing office and familiarizing himself with every detail of the work. Having acquired his trade he turned his attention toward the completion of his education. He enrolled as a student in the college at Whitt, Texas, and while there published a college paper called The Moon, which venture was undertaken largely as a means of providing him with funds to keep him in school. His removal from Whitt, after two years, caused a total eclipse of The Moon and while in Granberry College for three and a half years he reached the junior year of his course. The fourth year he entered as a senior at Weatherford College and finished the course in 1890 with the degree of A. B. His college days ended and commencement time actually achieved, his first work was as a reporter on the Weatherford Constitution and following this he engaged in a rather unsuccessful effort at job-printing in the same town. Now it was that he took up school work as a country pedagogue for two years and while so employed conceived the idea of entering the lecture field, perchance his road to fame and fortune, who could tell? His peculiar mental bent suggested the humorous side of life as a subject offering a good field for his efforts and he wrote and lectured on “Queer People,” covering portions of his state and filling engagements for some two years. For four years following his lecture tour he was employed on railroad work, location and construction, with a civil engineering party, at the end of which time, in 19o1, he purchased the Jacksboro News of Simpson and Groner, rehabilitated it and modernized it and has since given it his whole time. The Jacksboro News was founded in 1804 and is a five column quarto, devoted to the interests of Jack county and to the promotion of the welfare of its owner. Its policy is onward and upward and it sings the praises of Democracy through every biennial campaign.
As an aid to his office Mr. Marks has established a circulating library of some four hundred and fifty volumes of standard fiction, science and other desirable literature, which feature is greatly beneficial also to the book-lovers of Jacksboro.
May 12, 1904, Mr. Marks married Miss Lutie Terrell, a daughter of B. F. Terrell, who came to Texas from Moberly, Missouri.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 239-240.