This is the life history of James Pinckney "Pink" Logan, the Honorable Mayor, Commissioner, Democratic Delegate to the DNC1, and successful businessman.
Articles of the day referred to him as a great man; tall and handsome, soft spoken, a gentlemen at all times, erect and dignified carriage. He was described as a man before his time, a visionary, an early but immature civil rights pioneer, a historian, an infrastructure kingpin, poll tax opponent, and a man who loved Port Arthur with the affection of a son.
In victory or defeat, Pink Logan remained unchanged. He was the ideal politician. His interest and activity on behalf of his fellow Port Arthurans was the same whether he was in office or out. He was modest when successful and gracious when otherwise. He was for Port Arthur, Jefferson County, and Texas, first, last and always. He was Port Arthur's own J.P. Logan2. In the years from the 1920's thru early 1950's, he guided Port Arthur and its infrastructure into the 20th century and prepared its survival into the 21st. He might have had his political enemies, but his political friends were far superior in numbers, and this is, as he often said, "The way it was". History always seemed to pick the right leader for a certain era and J.P. Logan was the man for the occasion3.
Descendent of Great Men
In order to understand the man, you must understand the heritage, the lineage of a man's descent. In Pink's case, he was well aware that he came from the blood of great men. The following is an ancestral account of where "Pink" Logan inherited his drive:
James Logan was born in Lurgen, Ireland. He crossed the Atlantic in 1699 to arrive in the New World, employed as secretary to William Penn. He was a confidential friend and advisor to Penn, as well as to his sons and grandsons. For nearly half a century he was the factotum of the Colonial government of Pennsylvania. In 1722 he was elected Mayor of Philadelphia. He retired at "Stenton" Plantation in Germantown, PA. An intimate friend and colleague of his named Linnaeus, who was a botanists, named an order of herbs and shrubs after him, "Loganiaceae". James Logan came from an honorable and ancient family of Scotland; he was the Great Grandson of Logan of Restalrigg. In 1398, Robert Logan, of Restalrigg married the daughter of Robert II and was named Admiral of Scotland. Sir Robert Logan (a descendant of Robert's) had a son, Patrick Logan, who was an educated clergyman and father of James Logan of Pennsylvania.*
James Logan was the Great Great Great Grandfather of James Pinckney Logan (Pink). James' son was named James Logan Jr. (the Great Great Grandfather of Pink). His son, William Logan, married Katherine Henderson (Aunt of James Pinckney Henderson, First Governor of Texas). He was Great Grandfather to Pink.
Pink's Grandfather, James Henderson Logan, was brother of Captain William Mitchel Logan, who was closely associated to Sam Houston. William M. led Texas and Louisiana Volunteers at the Battle of San Jacinto. There are many historical documents regarding communications with General Sam Houston - these and other Captain Logan documents are still in the possession of Logan's descendents. He was awarded numerous lands by Sam Houston for his service and became First Sheriff of Liberty County. A monument was erected in Liberty County in honor of Captain Logan's service to his State and his country, and it remains on the lawn of the Liberty County Courthouse to this day. Captain William M. Logan's uniform of the Texas Army is the only one on display at the San Jacinto Monument. Captain Logan and James Pinckney Logan's documents can be found at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Director Robert Schaadt. Director Schaadt lectures on the history of the Logan families as well as others.
Pink's father, James Bryant Logan, drove cattle on the Old Chisum Trail. He later farmed and then owned and operated a store in Port Arthur on 6th Street. He married Virginia Sweeney, daughter of John Sweeney of Grand Chenier, Louisiana, whose wife was Sarah Jane Hickok, 1st cousin of James Butler Hickok, known as "Wild Bill Hickok".
Pink's Early Days
Pink was born on June 7, 1890 in Grand Chenier, Louisiana. In 1902, his family moved to Port Arthur Texas where they owned a small cotton farm that is today the Motiva and Huntsman Plants, formerly the Texaco Plant. He attended Webster School on Seventh Street, Port Arthur High School, and Port Arthur Business College as one of its first students. In 1912, he began working for the Phelan Josey Grocery Company. He later owned the three Logan Feed Companies in Orange, Beaumont, and Port Arthur. In addition, he owned three hotels; The Logan Hotel, The Worth, and the Texas Hotel all on Proctor street.
To understand what was going on during those times, in 1916 Pancho Villa crossed into the US-Mexico border killing US citizens. Port Arthur recruited 110 volunteers were sent to help shut Villa down - they were known as Company L. Also, an Article in the Port Arthur News on January 19, 1925 depicted that in 1924, pelts, fur, and some alligator skins local to Port Arthur brought in over $750,000.00, and over 500 men were trappers in the area. These weren't soft and easy men, but rough and rugged men who made a hard living in a mosquito-invested area of the country. Streets were dirt and shell; hot mix and asphalt was just being experimented with. World War I (1914-1918) had ended and most southern boys coming home were looking for work and of course the refineries offered them plenty of work. Since there were not many hotels or houses, some had to pay just to sleep in barns, but they came by the droves. The port was exporting millions of tons of supplies and imports the same; the seamen arrived by the thousands. Port Arthur was where they were able to spend their time, money, and restlessness. This had been going on since the port opened, Spindletop boomed, and the economy grew. Businesses to support them were popping up everywhere. There was only one way Pink knew to deal with all the lawlessness and keep it under control, it was to control and contain - this was to protect the citizens. If you keep the seamen and rowdy folks contained in one part of town to have fun, listen to music, dance, drink, and entertain themselves, then you control the area where things have a tendency to go wrong when men drink and stay up all night. There were reports that in the early years up to two men were killed per day (night) on the streets downtown. So something had to be done.
Entry Into Politics
J.P. Logan in 1921
In a span of over 30 years, Pink Logan was the most elected official in Port Arthur history. After resigning his position as Sales Manager for Phelan Grocery, he opted to run for City Commissioner Ward No. 3. He won by an overwhelming margin and was appointed Mayor by the other Commissioners.
He first took office in May 1921 and served through May 1923. He was then re-elected for another term in May of 1923, serving until June 1925.
The campaign of 1925 proved to be the hottest in the city's history. Jesse Peek was expected to run against Logan for mayor. However, he withdrew from the race. O.W. Youngblood circulated a petition to place H.F. Banker on the ballot. H.F. Banker announced his candidacy and the campaign began6. Pink Logan announced his candidacy by saying: "I am glad, in short, that I have not been weak enough to play traitor to the people, to give up the least of their fights or properties or privileges for 'sweet harmony's sake'."7 The campaign lasted two weeks and was heated. Attacks came from both camps, Pink conceded the black vote to Banker, but this was a ploy as Pink had a lock on the vote in the black community8. His proactive relationship with the black, Jewish, and Catholic community was challenged throughout his career, as many did not approve.
Pink won the election of 1925 and again served from May of that year until June of 1927.
Pink was always favored by the black community, and one of the reasons was that he actively showed care for all. He was against poor people having to pay a poll tax to be able to vote in Texas, specifically Jefferson County. One of the stories his family talks about was when a black friend of Pink's called him and said the road on his block was potholing, could he help him out. The next day Pink had a crew there fixing the pothole, and Pink was there with a shovel to help. Some say it was a political gesture, but gesture or not, actions speak louder than words.
Pink ran for office again in 1927 and won, but with issues. There was a runoff between Perry Pace and Pink Logan, and Pink won. Perry Pace alleged Pink with fraud for too many votes in the Grannis Fire Station voting box, this was on the west side of town in the black neighborhoods. Charges of fraud were brought up because the precinct had been created within 6 months of the election. The case ended up in County Court with Pink being charged with voter fraud. Pace was sworn in, but Pink would not give up his position believing that the poor communities were being disenfranchised. An injunction was filed and Pink kept the office. On March 21, 1928, the Ninth Court affirmed that Logan was rightfully the Mayor and upheld the vote at the Grannis box voting station, making the determination that there was no fraud. Pink served until June of 1929. Not many remember or choose to print the gallant efforts of Mayor Pink Logan to protect the rights of the black citizens of Port Arthur, Texas. In those days, blacks that were arrested were mistreated and some brutally beaten, so Logan created a completely separate Police Department16, a completely separate black Police Chief along with their own black jail house. He did this to protect the black citizens of Port Arthur and it worked - tensions were lowered as black leaders protected the black families, and of course in conjunction with Pink's administration. Few know that one of the reasons he resigned from particular fraternal organizations was because of the pressure he would receive regarding his perseverance and active protection of the civil rights of the minority sections of town. At the time, this included black, Jewish, and Catholic families in the area.
On March 15, 1927, the area headlines told of Pink "pushing the button" , to mark the beginning of the City's Water Filtration Plant. This was one of Pink's great accomplishments; this is described in detail in his exit speech from 1952 (see below14).
In May of 1929 Pink lost to J.W. O'Neal. The year 1929 would also reveal the stock market crash, and the Great Depression did not spare Port Arthur.
In May of 1931 Pink Logan defeated O'Neal and served until March 1932.
On March 12, 1929, the State Legislature in Austin had passed the Port Arthur Seawall Bill. It paved the way for Pink to build Port Arthur's first seawall. It set aside eight-nineths of all State ad valorem taxes levied at Port Arthur for over 20 years in order to divert $2,000,000.00 for the seawall14. The same seawall has proven to provide protection and security to this day from hurricanes like Rita and Katrina. When President Roosevelt came out with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, approved March 31, 193315), he must have heard what Mayor "Pink" Logan was doing in Port Arthur and took note. When funds were requisitioned by Pink and received, Pink purchased hundreds of wheel barrows and shovels and notified local personnel that were out of work they had jobs available, and instead of utilizing all heavy equipment, he chose to keep people busy and earning money working on the Levee as these were the years when the country had fallen on hard times due to the Great Depression. As an added note, Pink was a delegate and attended the DNC in Chicago in 1940, when Roosevelt was elected to another term. Pink was a loyal Democrat. Roosevelt also served more terms (three) than anyone at that post, the President of the United States of America. The Logan family retains original letters to President Roosevelt, from the Vice President's office, Sam Rayburn, as well as others. As a crowning touch to the levee, red and white oleander shrubs were planted, and over the years the root of the shrubs acted as reinforcement for the levees. The biggest threat to the levee was Hurricane Carla in 1961. The old earthen levee, with the roots of the oleanders acting like wire mesh, held firm1.
The Legal Battles of a Civil Rights Pioneer
J.P. Logan in 1937
In August of 1931 Pink was indicted for paying poll taxes for the voters on the west side of town, the predominantly black neighborhoods. He served his mayoral term until March 1932. Again, he believed that no one should have to pay to vote, and actions speak louder than words. Move the time frame up 40-50 years and some powerful civil rights activists would have come to Pink's rescue and supported his cause, instead those who didn't respect that Pink Logan served all (rich and poor, black and white) were brought to the forefront. There is little doubt that it was in an effort to win the election, but also to represent those voices that were only heard when he was in office. Any and all charges were adjudicated as the right of the people to vote and be heard. One of Pink's long-term friends and confidant, Mack Hannah, was black and a leader in the community. Pink was invited to speak at many events in the black community for his friend Mack Hannah, who was a Logan supporter. In an interview, Mack Hannah said, "'Pink' was the kind of fellow who had a flair about him. He was the kind of person people liked. He had a lot of that Huey P. Long stuff in him."9 Great things were happening in and around the city at this time. New construction was everywhere, hotels sprang up, and investments rang throughout the area. Stilwell and Gates gave Port Arthur its start, but Spindletop guaranteed its future. In January 1901, the first big Texas oil boom blew in. The household names of Gulf, Magnolia, Humble, and Texaco were all born with Spindletop. Pipelines and refineries were built and their workers required housing and stores. By 1914 Port Arthur was the second largest oil-refining point in the U.S. The population jumped from 900 in 1900 to 7,000 in 1910. By 1930 it was over 50,000. Port Arthur refineries area employed some 12,000 workers in 1950. Their salaries directly accounted for half the city's economy.
After the late 1960's, when the population reached a zenith of 69,000, a decline began after refineries backed down production11. (Mayor Logan had been out of office for over a decade.)
In 1948, Pink ran for Commissioner again and won. All charges or indictments (even the lawsuit of the acclaimed duel) had been dropped and allowed him to continue to serve in an elected official position. In 1949, he was Mayor Pro-Tem, and then ran for Mayor again in 1950 and won where he served Port Arthur another two years.
In 1952, Pink retired from office but was always a consultant and active participant in the City's needs as he was requested and summoned for help and consultation until his death, but he chose not to serve again, publicly, but to work in the private sector to support his family. Pink's proudest accomplishments were the Filtration Plant, Filtration Plant Upgrades with Fluoride, Sewage Treatment, Sewer Systems versus dumping in the Neches River, Street Improvements, and Drainage Systems.
Pink loved Port Arthur and marketed the area as best he could. The family retains pictures of Mickey Rooney, Jane Russell, Sonny Tufts, as well as others visiting and vacationing throughout the years in the area and sitting at the Logan table on Pleasure Island enjoying the original music of the area and dancing. In 1951, the City of Port Arthur passed Resolution 703, naming a tract on Pleasure Island “Logan Park” in honor of J.P. Logan's many years in service and as a tribute to a man who loved Port Arthur. It is filed in the Deed Records, Jefferson County, Texas, in volume 818, page 53 et seq. The resolution does not allow the changing of the name and many other restrictions without a vote by the City of Port Arthur.
Retirement and Looking Back to "the Way it Was"
In 1958 after Pink had been retired from public office, an article was written in the paper that asked the question if Arthur Stilwell, founder of Port Arthur was ever invited to the Silver Jubilee Celebration (celebrating 25 years of incorporation), by someone who claimed to have ran into one of Stilwell’s kinsman. The next day Pink produced the yellowed telegram from Arthur Stilwell to the editor that read;
New York, N.Y., July 3, 1923 The Mayor of Port Arthur, Texas: I regret very much that I cannot be with you when you celebrate the 25th anniversary of Port Arthur, the city I so love. Port Arthur has only started. It will grow to be a city of a hundred thousand to fulfill my vision, and I expect to live to see that day. -A.E. Stilwell August 1999 Texas Monthly Reprint. The 1950’s in Port Arthur and Port Acres were jammed until the late hours of the night beating to the sounds of musicians. Those days were the days of music in Port Arthur. In 1960-1961 the Tom James Commission showed up and shut down the clubs, brothels, and gambling houses, implicating all levels of local officials. The report never once referenced or documented a connection to Mayor J. P Logan as reported in gossip columns.Pink’s control and contain approach was most suited for the times as he inherited some lawless and ruthless history. An article printed in the Port Arthur News on January 11, 1922, it states Logan as saying:
“ Port Arthur has tolerated law violation in one form or another until the patience of the citizenship has been exhausted… In addition to the public prostitution, gambling is known to be carried on daily under the protection of social clubs licensed by the state. Police officers are instructed to keep strict watch over these clubs and seek evidence which will make possible the instituting of quo warrants proceeding to revoke the licenses of the clubs.”
Oil refineries began drying up in the late 1960’s and Port Arthur became a working class town with no jobs, creating a tailspin which only recently appears to be letting up, if only because it couldn’t get much worse. The unbelievable sounds and sheer variety of music and talent of Port Arthur, like the swamp blues, swamp pop (Louisiana’s version of blues and rock and roll), country, gospel, New Orleans R&B and Cajun and Zydeco were essences of Old Port Arthur nightlife came to a screeching halt when Tom James came to town. That along with the slow refinery production of the late 1960’s really began the demise of the Old Port Arthur scene.13 The nightlife of Old Port Arthur was real, the gambling houses, the brothels, and the festive music of the day ruled the evening. Texas brothels can be researched in detail by going to the following link: http://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/PP/jbp1.html.
Commentary and other facts:
In order to understand the days and times of the early 1900’s, the old west stories of duels were still true. There is one great story about Pink and his brothers that is a favorite of his family. There was a family that called out one of Pink’s brothers and of course, he accepted, but noted that all of his brothers would be there. Picture the hats, long coats and pistols walking down Proctor Street, well of course when that family heard what was about to go down, they never showed up. Whether this story is true or not can’t be verified, but the old folks say it really happened. That’s just the way it was in those days.
Pink loved duck hunting. When he was younger, he and his brothers used to saddle up and go to the Sabine Pass swamps and hunt. On especially good days they would bring the duck to market for up to $0.50 a duck for extra money. He continued to hunt with his son’s, nephews, and grandchildren until his departure.
On January 17, 1974, The News front-page article read, “ PA Unemployment Lowest in Years”. In the article it depicts the unemployment rate was the lowest it had been in more than 15 years (which is around 1960), so PA’s downswing didn’t happen in 1920, 1930, 1940, 1950, (as claimed in one publication), but around 1960 when the refineries slowed production.
During an election debate he was asked how he could be trusted after having been married three times, he replied, “ I’ve never loved a woman as much as I love Port Arthur”.
Economic status of Port Arthur during Pink’s terms
Downtown Port Arthur 1932
In 1927, Filtration Plant went online.
Seawall was completed in 1931.
Asphalting of the streets reached almost 76 miles as reported in the Port Arthur News (September 2, 1930).
Churches sprang up throughout the 1920’s.
The third Pier Bridge was constructed in 1931.
In early 1929, buses were being used in the city.
In 1931, Pink and his Commissioners dedicated new fire trucks to the Fire Department. (Family retains Fire Truck Brass Plaques.)
There was an increase of over 100% in the city’s population from 1920 to 1930.
In August of 1927, Port Arthur was third in the State of Texas in new construction.
Between 1920 and 1927, approximately 3,000 new homes were constructed.
In 1929, Port Arthur was ranked No. 1 in manufacturing.
The Vaughn Hotel completed construction in 1929.
The Goodhue Hotel completed construction in 1929.
St. Mary’s is dedicated by Pink Logan in 1929 and completed in 1931.
The new City Hall, Police Stations, and Fire Departments are completed.
Too many buildings and businesses are listed as being constructed or started to list in this document.
Bank deposits in 1927 were approximately $6.8MM, and in 1928 deposits were approximately $8.6MM.
Bankers are being quoted in the Port Arthur News in 1928 stating, in sum, that the economy in the area is in fine shape and that the numbers don’t lie.
Bank’s also report their clearings in 1920 were almost $21MM, and by 1929 they are at an amazing $42.5MM.
Opening of Filtration Plant
St. Mary's Completion
Businesses and Organizations
Pink was director of the Seaboard State Bank and Trust Company, a financial institution he helped organize. Fraternally he was a Mason, being affiliated with Cosmopolitan Lodge No. 872, Port Arthur Chapter, No. 250, R.A.M., Port Arthur Commandery No. 73, K.T., and El Mina Temple Shrine at Galveston. He was also a member of the Shrine club of Port Arthur, the U.C.T., and a Director of the Lion’s Club4. In 1948, he was named Member Chairman for the Texas Order of the Sons of the Republic of Texas5.
Population Facts & Important Dates
1902 – The poll tax becomes a requirement for voting. 1918 – (March) Texas women win the right to vote in primary elections. 1920 – Population of Port Arthur is 22,251. 1930 – Population is 50,902. 1940 – Population is 46,140. 1950 - Population is 57,530. 1960 - Population is 66,676.12 Late 1960's - Low oil production and lack of jobs leads to economic tailspin13
Bringing music back to Pleasure Island is striking a chord among some Port Arthur city officials who are looking at the possibility of refurbishing Logan Park. (Click for link to story)
A Note From the Author As I find myself back at my birthplace, I wondered upon unjustified and seemingly one sided personal attacks of untruth thrust upon the name of my Great Grandfather in online articles I read. It seems that if you let a few little people voice an opinion irresponsibly without opposition, you create a biased analysis, so it is our responsibility to set the record straight based upon facts not gossip or political one liner’s from motivated opponents, or descendents thereof.
The research is based upon factual knowledge of events during his life and times.
TO MY GREAT GRANDFATHER, THE GREAT AND HONORABLE MAYOR, COMMISSIONER, AND MAN OF PORT ARTHUR, WHO ONCE PATTED ME ON TOP OF THE HEAD IN THAT LONG COAT AND TOP HAT, I HOPE THAT I HAVE SERVED YOU WELL IN THIS ARTICLE. YOU WERE RIGHT WHEN YOU SPOKE OF “THE WAY IT WAS”