Arthur F. Horton the Subject of September TAGHS Meeting

September 26, 2016 - Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21, members and guests of the Timpson Area Genealogical and Heritage Society heard fascinating details of the life of Arthur F. Horton, longtime Timpson civic and church leader. From hilarious high school pranks to riveting accounts of combat in the jungles of New Guinea during WWII, the recollections of Barry J. Horton and Sheila Horton Barrett, his son and granddaughter respectively, provided wonderful details of Arthur Horton's life.

Born in Panola County in 1917, Mr. Horton's family moved to Timpson when he was a child and he lived here the rest of his life. In high school, Arthur was a star athelete, winning acclaim in both football and track. He medaled in the hurdles at the State Track meet after he and Coach York hitchhiked to Austin and later played college football at Ole Miss and Kilgore College. As Barry related, not all was studies and sports. He revealed an occasion when THS faculty member Mr. Zannie Crump enlisted the help of students in beautifying the campus by planting flowers. Much to Mr. Crump's displeasure, when the prepared flower beds sprang up, they contained not only flowers but corn, okra, and peas and Arthur, tagged as a primary culprit, was charged, among others, with removing the offending vegetables.   

Timpson was one of the smallest towns in Texas to have a National Guard Armory and Arthur joined the Guard in 1938. It was federalized in 1940 in preparation for war and 1942 found Arthur Horton stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco. He was now married to Irene Bailey Horton and she went to visit him there. He was to meet her train at the station but, unfamiliar with the city, she got off in Oakland, across the bay from the station where Arthur was waiting. Realizing she had made a mistake but unable to contact Arthur, Irene approached two Military Policemen in her usual direct manner and said “You men are just going to have to help me!”  The M.Ps obliged, contacted the Presidio, Sgt. Horton was located, and he came to collect her in a jeep. 

Arthur shipped out of Brooklyn for New Guinea in 1944 as a first seargeant in the infantry. The Japanese were entrenched on New Ginuea and Moratai and the fighting there was brutal. Barry told that the Allies had broken the Japanese supply lines and the Japanese troops could receive no food. On one occasion as Arthur's company cook was preparing a meal which included bacon, he turned around to find a starving Japanese soldier standing behind him in the field kitchen. The cook sent the Japanese soldier to the Great Beyond still hungry. Like many soldiers, however, Arthur was usually reluctant to talk of his war experiences.

Returning to Timpson after the war, Horton continued to be active in the local National Guard Armory and worked at a variety of occupations, including running a drug store, building trailers at Trailmobile in Longview, and looking after the 88 acre farm he and Irene had bought during the war. He entered the insurance business with Edmond Hebert in the mid 1960s and opened his own insurance agency in 1967. Throughout these years, Arthur was a leader in his church and his town. He was ordained a deaon of the First Baptist Church in 1948 and was a life-long Mason. He served as secretary of the Lake Timpson board for 27 years and in the American Legion for 50 years. He was a charter member of the Timpson Lions Club and a former president of the Chamber of Commerce. He served as Mayor and was elected Outstanding Citizen in 1968. He retired in 1983. 

Many of those present at the TAGHS meeting shared memories of Arthur Horton as well as his wife, Irene, a long-time and well-loved Timpson teacher. All agreed with Sheilla Horton Barrett that Arthur Horton is a fine example of The Greatest Generation.

TAGHS meets at 2PM on the third Wednesday of each month in the Meeting Room of the Timpson Public Library, located on the corner of Austin and Bremond streets. The public is invited.