VFW POST 8560 POST HISTORY AND TIME LINE:
Hopkins County has had three VFW post charters issued over the years. The present charter was issued on 10 October 1951, while the post was under the leadership of Charles Blount, Post Commander. The other two charters were issued and rescinded, the members were primarily WW1 Veterans and some WWII vets. What history that is known is brief and incomplete. No permanent home was ever built under the old charters. The meetings were conducted at the Hopkins County Court House, drug stores and old farm houses;meeting any place the vets were welcome.By the end of WWII many vets were coming home and the US Congress was issuing many new laws and Veterans benefits, such as the GI Bill and etc. The main service organization for the vets of Hopkins County was the American Legion on Church Street in Sulphur Springs.
Many of the combat vets were dissatisfied with the local American Legion Post 66 for one reason or another. Some of these men broke away and joined the VFW, were they could associate with their peers. About 1950 the few VFW members of Hopkins County were meeting in an old farm house on what was then called "Hog Farm road" is now HC 2308. Just south and east of the city a couple of miles. The property belonged to the McLaughin Brothers, both WW1 vets and both are now deceased. This is where the application was drafted for the current charter in 1951. The meetings were spastic and disorganized, the old house was not much of a meeting place and was not truly a post home. The meetings continued at the old farm house until 1954. About this time the members were approached by Mr. Charles Tapp. He told the rag-tag group of vets to dig into their pockets and see how much money they could raise.The actual amount is not known, but the members made payments for several months. The way payments were collected was quite unusual. During a meeting, for the good of the order, the Commander would request member to dig into their pockets and make a property payment. The amount of money collected was used for the current months payment. These payments were to purchase four acres of land at the end of Whitworth street (changed to Veterans Drive in 1993) in the city of Sulphur Springs, Texas. The members and their wives got out the axes, shovels and wheel barrows, rolled up their sleeves and started the task of clearing the property and establishing our new post home. To this group of members we owe a large debt of gratitude. Later the Post to purchased two more acres of land from Mr. Tapp. These two acres, at $500.00 per acre linked our property to the then new Interstate 30.
By this time the two McLaughlin brothers had donated the old farm house to the post and the members had physically moved the building to our new property and set up our first real post home.
In 1955/56 the members procured an old Army barracks from Camp Maxey at Paris Texas and had also moved it to our property, combining the two buildings together forming a post home with a dance floor. That same year the members procured an old WWII Tank and placed it in our memorial park next to the Memorial monument and flagpole. It remains in that location today.
During that period in time the sport of rodeoing became very popular.The post sectioned of a portion of the property and built a rodeo arena. No real rodeo competition was ever conducted in the arena, but it has and is still sub-leased to Riding clubs for their enjoyment and some competitive events.
At the time of the opening of the new posthome, membership was around 30 to 35 members.The post continued to be a dry post, the members would put a beer cooler in the backs of their trucks and cars and drink on the outside while working the grounds. It was a few years later, Homer Minty and other carpenters built Booze lockers inside the post and each member had a bottle locker.
Later in the early 60's a liquor license for a non-profit club was requested and issued. Business was great and membership started picking up.The post was making money and started a Saturday night dance, which was also very profitable, only the American Legion and the VFW had dances with live music and where drinking was allowed. The new Bar actually opened its doors during J.W. Ballard's term as Commander in 1967/68, the next year Ed Wood was elected Commander, and Sanford Gammill was elected quartermaster, the post made ALLSTATE Post for the first time in 1968/69. Not to be outdone, Commander John Fennell and Quartermaster Travis Spencer also made ALLSTATE Post again in 1969/70. Commander Homer Minty and his quartermaster also made ALLSTATE Post in 1971/72 and 1972/73 for two connective years running. Then along came Commander Bob Lancaster and Quartermaster in 1973/74 making ALLSTATE Post again for a total of five (5) years as an ALLSTATE POST, the membership had risen to over 600 members, the highest it had ever been and ALLSTATE POST status would not come along again for another 20 years. During that period of rapid growth, post 8560 had a newly transferred member by the name of N.F. "Red" Layne, Red did not stay with Post 8560 many years before transferring to Paris Post 3990, where he was elected Post Commander and District 12 Commander.
The Vietnam war had started and members saw a real need for the post, membership had grown to 600 and post 8560 was the largest post in district 12. We had produced several district officers. Homer Minty was our first District 12 Commander in 1968/69, he was followed by Max Stout in 1970/71, Bob Lancaster in 1976. John Potts was also a District Commander.
We had a Tornado in 1973 that tore off a portion of the old barracks building and the Post collected some insurance money, which was used to built back a bigger and better west wing with a Bar and a meeting hall/Dance hall. The Ladies Auxillary donated the tile to cover the floor in that building and Norvil Kirtly, a member of the post and later a Post Commander, was the contractor for that project. The project was completed in 1975.
BINGO became very popular and Post 8560 started its own bingo games, giving away cash and other items. The Texas state laws affecting Service Organizations having bingo games were very lenient and we got on the ball making money and expanding the Post. The walls came tumbling down in 1979 when Texas passed a law banning bingo. We shut down our bingo operation and membership started to fall.
Competition from other outlets was causing sales problems. We had lost Bingo and were losing revenue from the bar. Bad times were upon us.Membership was down to around 200, the Post came to an all-time low in 1983. Bills were due, the electric company was about to turn off the power and no hope was in sight. A new Commander, James "Bear: Hawkins and his Quartermaster Pat Harred, were elected and the changes started to happen. We had cake walks and other such fund raising ideas, formed by a handfull of solid members who had stopped coming to the post because of the way things had become. These old members and the new Commander and Quartermaster raised enough cash to pay the over due bills and the Quartermaster started making some changes in the way the bar operated. Business at the bar started to pick up and meetings were being attended by more members. By the end of the 1983/84 year the post was nearly stable again, however no growth in membership was present.
The following year things remained stable and it was not until 1987, when Tom Miller took the reins as Post Commander with Frank Perna as Quartermaster that real growth in both membership and sales really turned around. The bar was expanded and rebuilt, additions were added to the Post. But, we just could not get the full growth that the Post needed. In 1990, Frank Perna relieved Tom Miller as Post Commander that changes really started to happen, Tom Miller, being free from the task of Post Commander, had more time to concentrate on getting the BINGO back in the post, He organized a committee that went to the City Council and to the Hopkins County Commissioners Court. This committee requested that a local issue be placed on the voting ballot to allow Bingo in the City of Sulphur Springs. Both groups refused to add this issue to the ballot, stating they would be run out on a rail if one committed to such an act. The Post committee had no choice but to get up a petition of registered voters and present it to the City Council and force them to put the bingo issue on the next ballot, we got the required signatures and the BINGO question was placed on the local option ballot, BINGO won, hands down at the next election.
The Post started bingo in the old building until we had saved up $100,000.00 for a down payment on the new BINGO hall. First American bank and Mortgage required that 3 three members with good credit co-sign the note for a $175,000.00 loan. Tom Miller, Frank Perna and Pat Harred signed that note and the contract was let. We started BINGO in the new building in January 1993, the Post Commander was Don Cullum. The next year Tom Miller was elected Post Commander and Pat Harred was elected Quartermaster for 1993/94, that year VFW Post 8560 made Allstate Post for the first time in 20 years. After the County Commissioners realized that no harm was done to the county because of BINGO and the VFW was making lots of money, they too decided to get in the bingo business at the Hopkins County Civic Center.This operation shut down less than one year later.
Tom Miller and Pat Harred remained in office until the building note was paid for three years later. They declined to run for those Post offices in the 1997/98 year. The post was debt free and we had some $50,000.00 in the bank.
(Kenneth Pat Harred, the Comrade who researched the above history and authored this Web Page, passed on to his reward from his service connected disabilities on June 27, 1998. He will be greatly missed by this Post and all who knew him.)
PAST POST COMMANDERS:
Charles Blount----------1951/52 *
W.H. Ratliff-------------1952/53 *
Arthur Mitchell----------1953/54 *
Ira Holmes--------------1954/55 *
B.F. Chapman-----------1955/56 *
W.H. Ratliff--------------1956/57 *
O.C. Sewell-------------1960/61 *
W.C. Ramey------------1961/62 *
Arthur Mitchell----------1962/63 *
Paul Linnington----------1963/64 *
Paul Linnington----------1964/65 *
Paul Linnington----------1965/66 *
Paul Linnington----------1966/67 *
J.W. Ballard-------------1967/68 *
Ed Wood----------------1968/69 (FIRST ALLSTATE)
John Fennell--------------1969/70 * (ALLSTATE )
John Fennell--------------1970/71 *
Homer Minty-------------1971/72 * (ALLSTATE)
Homer Minty-------------1972/73 * (ALLSTATE)
Bob Lancaster------------1973/74 * (ALLSTATE)
Clifton Hooker------------1979/80 *
Bob Lancaster------------1980/81 *
Narvil Kirtley----------1985/86 *
Tom Miller------------1993/94 ALLSTATE-20 years
Dr. Joe R. Minter-------2003-2004
ALL AMERICAN POST---------NONE
ALLSTATE POST-------------6 TIMES
THE POST WAS CHARTERED IN 1952