The following text is the introduction to Volume II of the "Thura Truax Hires Manuscripts",
printed in 1985 by the Association of Philippe du Trieux Descendants,
as edited by Everett and Sandra Truax.
More information of Thura's life history is located at the Tribute to Thura Truax Hires.
The death of Thura Truax Hires at age 69 in 1955 was noted in many places by citizens and organizations. She had lived a full and productive life, pursuing a wide variety of interests and providing leadership to many causes of lasting worth.
Among those who placed in record their sentiments and the biography of Mrs. Hires was The Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania. One of Mrs. Hires' peers and coworkers, Dr. Samuel Booth Sturgis, authored a most fitting tribute to her. This was published in the Society's Proceedings in 1956 (Volume XXVII).
Who was this Truax relative who gave so much to others? What inspired her? What kept her at the task? How did she accomplish so much? What was she like?
Born in Minnesota, her grandfather, Daniel Van Der Heyden Truax, had migrated from Erie County, N.Y. in 1854, bringing his family. Daniel's line came from Isaac Du Trieux b. 1642. His father had served with the "Green Mountain Boys," and had fought in the battles of Bennington and Fort George. He was drowned in the St. Lawrence River in 1825.
This Dakota pioneer's son, Thura's father, served in the Civil War, had been a businessman and railroader, and was elected as a circuit judge. He was Judge James Wright Truax. Thura was the last child of six.
Thura's mother, Rose Belle Colby, also descended from a line of early American stock. In describing her maternal grandfather Joseph A. Colby, the 1889 "Album of Biography, Valley of the Red River, of the North and the Park Regions, Minnesota and North Dakota," said: ". . . the family has been noted for its loyalty to the country, indeed, every male member in every generation has served his country more or less in the wars which have been inflicted upon the land."
Thus, Thura's birthright included awareness of, and devotion to heritage of family, and Country.
Early 20th century photos of her (she was exceedingly handsome) show her with family and friends. Included in backgrounds are the long rambling ranch houses of that' time. An Indian teepee is pitched in the front yard. Lonely rock formations, sculptured by wind and sand, stand in the distance. She was light-hearted, and in one snapshot, is pictured "clowning around."
Thura's mother died when she was nine, and seven years later her father died. She then lived with her brother who owned a newspaper. Thura became its editor.
She met her future husband, John Edgar Hires, son of the founder of Hires Root Beer, a young engineer who was working on an irrigation project on the Little Missouri River. She was married in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in 1910. They raised their three children with love and affection.
At this point, it is necessary to the story of Thura Truax Hires' involvement with Truax genealogy, to bring others into the picture.
Early Du Trieux Genealogy Researchers
David Truax was an actor from Chicago and interested in family history. During the 1870's, he worked at the task. However, he became unemployed while in New York, and stored the trunk containing his manuscripts. When he sought to reclaim it, the trunk was gone, and with it was lost his family research.
Theodore de T. Truax also lived during the post-Civil War era, this Theodore went to work on the same project. He was a New York Newspaperman, and had little money. He was unable to obtain financial assistance from prominent members of the family, and could not publish. He sold his manuscript to Grafton Press of New York City. Grafton Press, after failing to get the manuscript published, passed the work to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society of New York. This, in edited version, was published as "The House of Truax" in 1926, 1927, and 1928. To Mr. Theodore de T. Truax, who died in 1915, a great debt is owed.
Allan L. Truax, a citizen of Crosby, North Dakota, became interested in the Truax history in the 19th century and was to dedicate much of his life to this effort. In 1903, he established contact with Theodore de T. Truax of New York as he knew of the manuscript, and wrote to many Truaxes seeking help in bringing the work to light, and having it published.
Allan wrote, "by a stroke of rare good fortune, in 1925, I came in touch with Mrs. Thura Truax Hires of Philadelphia, who generously offered to take up the work where Theodore de T. Truax had left off, and carry it through to completion, at her own time and expense."
Retiring in 1933, Allan Truax wrote, "feeling a great obligation to Mrs. Hires, I took upon myself the task of assisting her in every possible way. From 1933 to 1945, I traveled extensively, chiefly in the Western States but also in the East, interviewing in person many hundreds of Truax descendants, copying gravestone inscriptions, unearthing old Bibles and consulting local records. The results of my work are incorporated with those of Mrs. Hires."
The life story of Allan Truax is itself most remarkable. Born in Michigan in 1872, he became a North Dakota School teacher. There, he married Evelyn Baldwin, a fellow teacher, and also born in 1872. Allan lived to be 93 and Evelyn lived longer.
Allan spent most of his work life in the employ of the Great Northern Railway. He and his wife became well known for their civic and Church leadership. Allan developed great talent as a speaker and a writer. He was a second cousin of Thura Truax Hires.
Following an accident which severed his arm, he retired from the railroad in 1933. He and his wife began a new life's adventure. They bought a Model-T. Because of his handicap, he could not drive. She could. Together, they drove over 100 thousand miles, touring the country. They visited the 48 continental states in the process.
Allan traveled to search for his family's story, and to study America. He was greatly impressed in his visit to the Nation's Capitol. He later produced a history of the Revolution in several volumes, and a series on the history of the states. This is to be found in the Institute of Regional Studies in Fargo, N.D.
Allan capped off his travels and studies at age 83. Alone, he went to England where he spent five months visiting the literary and historical treasures he had read about.
By 1928, Thura was well into Truax genealogical research and many other far ranging pursuits-any one of which would have dominated the average persons life. It was in 1928 that she drafted her newly licensed high school student son, Charles Edgar Hires, as her driver.
Edgar, now retired and the keeper of his mother's journals, remembers waiting hour after hour outside homes as his mother examined family bibles, made genealogical notes, and interviewed old folks to draw out family lore. Young Edgar also dawdled away many hours beside cemeteries as Thura made her census, noting vital statistics, names, and epitaphs. Back home, she would transcribe her penciled note books into typewritten form.
She viewed all Truax clans as her family. She searched widely and unselfishly. She traveled throughout the United States. She compiled a "directory" of living Truaxes, and related persons, in the early 1930's. In one notebook, she identified over 4000 such persons, and listed them by community of residence, and by State. Thirty-four states, as well as the Canadian provinces Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.
As son Charles Edgar Hires says of her: "She was a curious person, ever delving into records seeking lost or misplaced facts."
Mrs. Hires' goal, in concert with her co-worker, Allan Truax, was clear cut. She was going to verify and expand the work of Theodore de T. Truax, as edited and published under title of "House of Truax" by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in 1926, 1927 and 1928. And, it seems, she wanted to leave no one out of the story.
This led her to England in search of ancestors of that culture. There, she associated with noted historian and genealogist Sir Anthony Wagner. Her curiosity led her into a search of the ancestry of Sir Winston Churchill. She traced him back to a gentleman in 1176 who had made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
She was a sentimentalist of the constructive variety. She was considerate of others. Having grown up with people of the Blackfeet Indian Nation, she devoted her talents to raising funds to aid the Indians, and endlessly lobbied the Federal Government to' improve health and housing conditions and to provide for good education of the Indian Children.
At her home in Ardmore, Pennsylvania she carefully planned and planted a formal Iris garden which was most beautiful. For many years she failed to see the garden in bloom as she was elsewhere judging Iris gardens. In 1939 she moved to a historical farm in Chester County not far from the Valley Forge National Park. The home "Rehobeth" was said to have been the headquarters of General Greene while he was at Valley Forge. Here she brought her iris and started new gardens. She also had many other flowers such as peonies, lilacs, daffodils and day lilies. She planted a field of about two acres in iris seedlings and with plants sent her from other growers for trial. She did most of the work on these plants herself, working in the cool of the early morning and the early evening.
She and her family had a home within two miles of the Valley Forge Park on land of Revolutionary note. Her son Edgar reports that three rooms were stacked with genealogical materials and notes. Thura did her own work, never employing genealogical services, or clerical help.
With all of this, she somehow managed to be a strong and involved mother. She was a great story teller, and she became the subject of many stories within the family. Once, she persuaded four North Dakota relatives to visit her in mid-winter so as to enjoy the mildness of eastern Pennsylvania. They arrived by train as a blizzard struck. They were snowbound for the full week of "vacation."
Thura, being raised with animals such as fawns given to her by the Blackfeet Indians, loved animals. Once, at an auction, a broken down horse was about to be auctioned off to a glue factory buyer. Thura bought him, took him home, and named him "Frank," after Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He lived for many years. At about the same time, she adopted a little pig which had fallen from a truck. He, too, lived to a grand old age. He and Frank were friends, and on hot summer days, he stood in Frank's shadow to escape the sun.
What of such a person who did all of this? What of a person who, in just one line of endeavor such as the Truax genealogical search, accomplished so much in a time when communication and transportation systems were poor, when there were no copying machines, computer systems? What are we to say?
The only way to say anything is to follow her example, and carry on the work, which she so well advanced to the benefit of her family and of history.
Mrs. John Edgar Hires with her husband are buried at beautiful and historic St. Peter's Episcopal Cemetery in Great Valley near Paoli, Pennsylvania. This Church and Cemetery restored in 1944, was started in 1703. Among its residents are both British and American soldiers of the Revolutionary war.
This website was created by Jennifer Smith and Mike Truax for
The Association of Philippe du Trieux Descendants.
Questions or Comments should be addressed to Jennifer Smith.