This is not collectible.
This is one of a series of large beads obtained from different places and converted into travel bugs. They are named for Texas towns with interesting names or histories.
Though it is a ghost town today, Thurber once had a population of perhaps as many as 8,000 to 10,000. At that time (1918–20) it was the principal bituminous-coal-mining town in Texas. The site of the town is in the northwest corner of Erath County. Isolation forced the operators to recruit miners from other states and from overseas; large numbers of workers came from Italy, Poland, the United States, Britain, and Ireland, with smaller numbers from Mexico, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, and Russia. Black miners from Indiana worked in the mines during the labor troubles of the 1880s. The force of predominantly foreign workers, many of whom spoke little or no English, enabled the company to maintain a repressive environment for many years. Following inability to meet a payroll and a resulting strike by miners, the owners sold out in the fall of 1888 to founders of the Texas and Pacific Coal Company, including Robert Dickey Hunter, who became president of the new company, and H. K. Thurber of New York, for whom the town was named.
Colonel Hunter chose to deal with the dissident miners with an iron hand. The new company fenced a portion of its property and within the enclosure constructed a complete town and mining complex. It included schools, churches, saloons, stores, houses, an opera house seating over 650, a 200-room hotel, an ice and electric plant, and the only library in the county. Eventually the strike ended, and the miners and their families moved into the new town. In addition to the mines, the company operated commissary stores.
In 1897 a second industry came to the town, a large brick plant; Hunter was also a partner in this operation, which, although it was separate from the mining company's holdings, used clay found on company property. A stockade, armed guards, and a barbed wire fence, restricted labor organizers, peddlers, and other unauthorized personnel from entering the town.
Despite the retirement of Colonel Hunter in 1899, Thurber remained a company-dominated community. Continuation of suppressive activities resulted in a concentrated effort by the United Mine Workers to unionize the Thurber miners. Following the induction in 1903 of more than 1,600 members into the Thurber local of the UMW, the company opened negotiations with the workers and reached an agreement resulting in harmonious labor-management relations.
Thurber gained recognition as the only 100 percent closed-shop city in the nation. The victory at Thurber indicated what unions might accomplish with effective leadership and more congenial opponents than employers like Colonel Hunter, even when confronted with problems as difficult as organizing diverse ethnic groups. Despite occasional strikes, basic labor-management harmony prevailed, and Thurber remained a union stronghold until the demise of mining operations in the 1920s.