The earliest conversations Herbert Hunt can recall at his family’s dinner table revolved around one thing: oil.
When he was 3-years-old, he said his highchair was moved to the dinner table, and his father, H.L. Hunt, frequently discussed East Texas oil fields.
“I claim I was home schooled by H.L. in the oil business,” Herbert, who now lives in Dallas, said. “Tyler is really where he got to grow in the business.”
H.L. Hunt was one of the earliest investors in the East Texas oil industry, moving his family to Tyler in 1931. He enjoyed great success, and Herbert and several other family members have continued to carry on and work for the businesses he started.
Now, those walking down the downtown square in Tyler will soon have a reminder of the effect H.L. Hunt had on Tyler and all of East Texas.
On Tuesday, the city of Tyler hosted a ceremony to unveil a new Half Mile of History marker that will honor H.L and his wife, Lyda Bunker Hunt. The marker will be part of the Half Mile of History heritage trail that honors significant people, places or events in Tyler.
“It’s very meaningful for the family,” said Carter Hunt, H.L. Hunt’s great grandson. “To see them honored is something the family is very proud of and very appreciative of.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor Martin Heines said H.L. and Lyda Hunt’s impact on Tyler was significant. He thanked the family for attending the ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of the marker.
“That was such a definitive time in the city of Tyler when the oil business was starting,” Heines said. “It really changed the makeup of this community forever, and many of the names that you’ll see out on the Half Mile of History can be tied to that same era as your mother and father because, really, that generation had the largest impact on the community and where we are today.”
H.L. and Lyda Bunker Hunt
H.L. Hunt and his family family first lived on Woldert Street as they restored an 1855 mansion and stable at 223 E. Charnwood St. The home had been used as a girls’ school and as a hospital during the Civil War.
In the oil field business, Hunt originated and practiced the idea of changing from two 12-hour shifts to four 6-hour shifts, doubling employment at his additional expense. After World War II, he encouraged conservation of oil by regulating the number of wells allowed to be drilled per acre.
A leader in the oil industry, Hunt was an active member of the American Petroleum Institute. In 1966, he was honored with the Chief Roughneck Award, presented by U.S. Steel, recognizing “the one individual whose accomplishments and character best represent the highest ideals of the oil and gas industry.”
He was elected posthumously to the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1986 and awarded the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers' Legends Medal posthumously in 2002, which is given to those who “have distinguished themselves in their profession and been a tribute to their communities and country.”
Lyda Bunker Hunt was noted for her generosity during the Depression, when she kept a table on the back porch to facilitate feeding as many as 12 men per day who appeared at their door seeking work. She also was a participating member of the Tyler Woman’s Club.