Enid Justin - Nocona Boot Company Collection, 1929-1982Add to your cart.

By Mary Atkins

Collection Overview

Title: Enid Justin - Nocona Boot Company Collection, 1929-1982Add to your cart.
ID: 01/ BA.0015
Primary Creator: Enid Justin (1894-1990)
Extent: 16.0 Boxes

Abstract

This collection contains the papers of Enid Justin and the Nocona Boot Company, 1929 - 1982, including advertisements, awards, audit reports, a catalog, ceiling prices on inventory, clippings, contracts, correspondence, diagrams, invitations, ledgers, newsletters, personal notes, programs, pamphlets, and many photographs.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Consists of sixteen boxes containing the papers of Enid Justin and the Nocona Boot Company, 1929 - 1982, including advertisements, awards, audit reports, a catalog, ceiling prices on inventory, clippings, contracts, correspondence, diagrams, invitations, ledgers, newsletters, personal notes, programs, pamphlets, and many photographs.

Collection Historical Note

Nocona Boot Company was founded in 1925 in Nocona, TX, by Enid Justin when her brothers moved their father's company (H.J. Justin & Sons) to Fort Worth. She believed her father would have wanted the business to remain in Nocona. The company was initially a copartnership with her husband, Julius L. Steltzer (later company president), Jess B. Thompson, and E.D. Keller, and retained 5 employees who had worked for her father's boot making factory.  The new company began with a borrowed $5,000 and was housed in a small rented building that had been one of her father's early plants, with necessary machinery leased from United Machine Company in St. Louis. The company incorporated in 1926 and issued stock. Successful in part due to the oil boom and demand for quality, high laced workboots, Nocona weathered the Depression and prejudice towards a "lady bootmaker."  Enid became the company's president in 1934 and began marketing the boots outside of Texas in 1936. The company acquired automated machinery and enjoyed continued success despite leather shortages during World War II. Additional plants were added in the immediate region to keep up with demand and the Nocona Boot Company Western Store was opened in 1949. Though sales slumped in the 1950's, the 1960's and 1970's saw increases in sales and the company thrived as part of the "glamorization" of bootmaking. A new plant on Highway 82 went into operation in 1948 was 33,000 square feet and employed about 100 workers. In 1972, 26,000 square feet were added and 250 laborers employed. In 1981, the Nocona plant had 89,000 square feet and 500 employees, while another plant that had been built in Vernon, Texas, during 1977, had 26,000 square feet and 150 workers. As plant size increased, output rose. Four hundred and fifty boots were produced daily in 1948, 1,200 in 1972, and 1,700 in 1981. By this time, Nocona boots were sold at thousands of outlets in every state in the Union and overseas. Justin had begun introducing computerized production into the plant in 1980. In 1948, her sales were about $1 million, in 1972, approximately $8 million, and by 1981 roughly $27 million. Innovative marketing and advertising techniques and the introduction of numerous made to order styles increased the company's success.  The Nocona plant was briefly unionized in the mid-'70s, but the union failed after one year. In 1981 the Nocona Boot Company was acquired by Justin Industries, and was closed in 1999 when Justin Industries consolidated boot making operations at El Paso, Texas and Cassville, Missouri, thus ending more than a century of quality boot-making in Nocona.  Based on: Richard L. Himmel, "NOCONA BOOT COMPANY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dln01), accessed March 28, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Biographical Note

Enid Justin, known affectionately in the area as "Miss Enid," was born April 18, 1894 in Nocona, Montague County, Texas, one of 7 children of Herman Joseph Justin and Anna (Allen) Justin.  Herman Justin was a bootmaker, and at age 13 Enid had left school - after having been unjustly suspended for dancing on a Sunday at her brother's birthday party - to work at the factory.  She learned boot making and the business from the ground up, and at age 14, Enid designed her first pair of boots.  In 1915, Enid married Julius Stelzer. They briefly moved to Oklahoma, but homesickness drove Enid to convince Julius to return to Nocona, where in 1916 they had a daughter, Anna Jo, who passed away in 1918.  In that same year, Enid's father passed away, and control of his boot company passed to his children.  In 1925, her brother decided to move the company to Fort Worth, Texas.  Enid opposed the move, believing that her father would have wanted the company to stay in Nocona, so she took over a now empty early factory of her father's and started Nocona Boot Company - using employees formerly employed in her father's firm. Through Miss Enid's hard work, the firm was a success, and prospered. At the beginning, to help meet expenses and make accounts balance, she turned her home into a rooming house, cooked for boarders, sewed and ironed for people, sold coal and washing machines. At the same time, in the factory, she worked night and day as shipping clerk, stenographer, and whatever job needed doing, as well as being the company's first traveling salesperson.  In 1934, Enid and Julius divorced. Miss Enid continued to work hard with the business, designing and ensuring top quality in the boots they produced.  In 1935 Paramount Pictures featured Miss Enid and the firm in a series on "Unusual Occupations", boosting sales.  In 1940, she married Harry Whitman, and they divorced in 1945. In 1947, the company moved to a new 30,000 sq ft facility on U.S. Route 82.  By the 1950s, her typical day began at 5:00 am when she arose and ate. She then went to the post office to pick up mail, read it, and answered most of it by 8:00 am. She was at the plant meeting dealers, suppliers, and employees until well into the evening. Under Enid's management, the company became one of the top five boot-makers in the country, and expanded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with factories in Vernon and Gainesville, Texas.   In 1981, Enid merged the company with her brothers' Justin Industries.  In the 1980s, Enid devoted her energies to civic causes, donating to underwrite Little League programs, and the expansion of Nocona City Park. During her career, Miss Enid was honored by social groups, business organizations, governmental bodies, and historical societies. For her pioneering contribution to Western heritage, she was made a member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City and honored by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas. Enid Justin died on October 14, 1990 in Nocona, the town she loved.

Access Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is not restricted.

Use Restrictions:

Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Archives and Rare Books department. Copyright restrictions apply.

Physical Access Note:

Collection is housed in the UNT Archives and Rare Book department vault. The UNT Archives and Rare Book department request a 24 hour notice from patrons in order to page materials from vault and ready the materials for use. Please contact the UNT Archives and Rare Book department for further information.

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Administrative Information

Repository: Manuscripts
Preferred Citation: Enid Justin - Nocona Boot Company Collection, University of North Texas Special Collections

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