Thura Hires Tribute

Thura Hires Tribute

The following tribute is the introduction to Volume I of the "Thura Truax Hires Manuscripts",
printed in 1985 by the Association of Philippe du Trieux Descendants,
as edited by Everett and Sandra Truax.

More information about Thura's research may be found in her biography.

This tribute, authored by Samuel Booth Sturgis, M.D., Honorary President of The Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania is reprinted with the permission of The Society. This tribute first appeared in the Society's Proceedings in 1956, Volume XXVII.

Mrs. John Edgar Hires (Thura Colby Truax Hires)

Mrs. John Edgar Hires, the former Thura Helen Colby Truax was born in Barnesville, Minnesota, 24 March 1886, the daughter of James Wright Truax and Rose Colby Truax. Philippe Truax, her paternal ancestor, on 9 March 1624, in Leyden, obtained a Certificate of Transfer "Pour Westinde," and with his wife were among the thirty families to sail on the New Netherlands to become the founders of New York. Mrs. Hires was also descended from an illustrious line of Puritan ancestors. From the earliest periods of our colonial history, her ancestors were outstanding citizens and through them she inherited the right of membership to practically all of the presently existing societies requiring lineage background for membership.

Mrs. Hires spent most of her early life in North Dakota. Her father was in the employ of the Northern Pacific Railroad and his duties required him to move westward from Barnesville to Hastings, Minnesota, then to Williston, North Dakota, where he took up residence in 1895 and where in 1898 he became a Circuit Judge of Williams County, North Dakota. From Williston the family next moved to Minot, North Dakota. In the latter town her brother, C. Frederick Truax published the town newspaper and Mrs. Hires was employed by him to edit the paper. It was in Minot, where Mrs. Hires met her future husband John Edgar Hires, a young engineer who had been sent west by the government on a project. They were married, 14 May 1910, took up residence in the Philadelphia area, and finally established their home on Linwood Avenue, Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

From childhood, Mrs. Hires was an avid reader and possessed a love of history. As the Editor of her brother's newspaper she developed early a keen interest in writing and in research. In Ardmore, during the period when her children were young, she directed her efforts to research in genealogy and, for a period of more than thirty years, applied herself not only to the genealogy of her own family but also to that of others who sought her advice and assistance. To friends she was always most generous with her time and knowledge. She was an indefatigable student and she has preserved for her family voluminous genealogical records of their forebears and the contributions they made to the development of our nation and of the countries of their origins.

In the field of genealogy Mrs. Hires early received international recognition and although she was never a professional genealogist yet her services were sought widely. She compiled volumes of genealogical records for the National Society, Daughters of the American Colonists; The Daughters of The American Revolution; The Colonial Dames of America; The Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century; and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. Mrs. Hires possessed a keen sense of historical values which contributed to the proper preservation of materials and records which were destined for destruction amongst which should be noted valuable World War II records. In 1939 her services received special recognition when she was made a Fellow of The Institute of American Genealogy the highest honor one can obtain in this field.

Mrs. Hires served with distinction in various capacities and offices in several of the lineal societies. As State Regent of The Pennsylvania Society, Daughters of the American Colonists, she contributed to the founding of seven chapters with large memberships. As National Registrar of The Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede she completed a monumental task in verifying American and English lines which necessitated months of travel in England and on the Continent in pursuit of data. Her work at the College of Arms of London received the commendation of the President of that august body. In the spring of 1955, The Daughters of the Barons of Runnemede, at their annual meeting, established The Thura Truax Hires Genealogical Fund in her honor. The recipient of a monetary gift from the State Chapters of the Society honoring the memory of Mrs. Hires, and donated through the efforts of The Wissahickon Chapter of which Mrs. Hires was Organizing Regent. The moneys will be applied for the preservation of genealogical data of the Society by microfilm. In recognition of her generous support of the scholarship program at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, The Pennsylvania Chapter, Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century, gave a one-year scholarship in her memory. Among the various other memorials which have been given in her memory are books of reference to libraries and aids to scholarship funds in universities.

Although possibly Mrs. Hires' greatest interest was in genealogy yet she received recognition in other fields for her work and her knowledge.

Mrs. Hires long championed the cause of the American Indians. For years in association with civic and historical Societies she worked tirelessly in presenting to the proper authorities of the government of the United States the sad plight of the Indians. She and her associates were responsible for the enactment of much legislation in behalf of the Indians. The human, understanding, and charitable sides of Mrs. Hires were always apparent during her entire life.

The civic interests of Mrs. Hires were many and varied. She served with the American Red Cross in the First and Second World Wars. She was a member of The Civic Club of Philadelphia and for many years served on its Board of Directors. She was a Director of The Pennsylvania Parks Association and had the distinction, for a period of time, of being the only woman member of this Board.

In the field of horticulture, Mrs. Hires made far-reaching contributions. She maintained, in gardens at her home, one of the finest collections of iris in the country. The writer recalls many visits to this garden when he was shown more than four hundred varieties of iris which were embraced in her collection. She was an authority on the propagation and culture of iris. She was a founder and life member of The American Iris Society and traveled widely throughout the country lecturing, examining, naming new varieties, and stimulating interest in this field. As a member of The Pennsylvania Parks Association she was especially diligent in the preservation of trees and our native flora. Mrs. Hires was one of those fine people to whom the majesty of all nature was a continuing inspiration and relevation.

Nor was the life of Mrs. Hires so preoccupied with her numerous daily and vital duties but that time was not available for the enjoyment of a hobby. The busiest of people are those who always can find more time and effort for other pursuits. Over a period of many years, Mrs. Hires assembled an unique collection of dolls. She planned a collection that would be of historical importance and which would present a running history through the years. Her collection consisted of both antique and modern dolls and a complete library on the history of dolls. At her death the massive collection was bequeathed to The Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where it has been permanently housed and placed on exhibit.

Mrs. Hires held membership in many historical and civic societies. The following list is not a complete one: The Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania; The National Society of the Daughters of Runnemede; The Colonial Dames of America; The Daughters of the American Revolution; The Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century; The Daughters of the American Colonists; Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company; Society of the Daughters of Colonial Wars; The Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America; The Order of the Crown in America; Order of Americans of Armorial Ancestry; The New England Society; The Historical Society of Pennsylvania; The Civic Club of Philadelphia; The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; The American Iris Society; and other societies.

The writer has summarized briefly the good works and accomplishments of Mrs. Hires. But these do not reveal adequately the fundamental character or the guiding intelligence of this remarkable person. An association of more than thirty-five years permits the writer to define more clearly her values. Endowed by birth and by nature with gentleness and humility she lived a life which was always an inspiration to all who knew her. She was kind, patient, and charitable - always ready to lend a helping hand to those-who sought her out or to those who needed help. She did not question the reasons why but graciously shared her all. No one will ever know the number of children whom she educated or to whom she contributed generously to help in their educational programs. Her thoughts and energies were directed to where she could help others and do the most good for her fellowman - always self-sacrificing and self-effacing. Her good works were performed not with anticipation of personal gain or salutary rewards but with the desire to make this world a better place for all to appreciate and enjoy. Equipped with superior qualities of mind she did not stand idly or vainly but labored tirelessly to turn to proper account her inherent capacities. She believed in America and in the American Way of Life with equal opportunities for all, regardless of race, color, creed, or circumstance of birth. She did not aspire to heights amongst her fellowman et her good deeds and her exemplary Christian life place her before us as one who met life nobly and who has left to us the heritage of a life of usefulness, purposefulness, and accomplishments.

Above all the fundamental character of Mrs. Hires was most apparent in her home. I shall remember her, in her home, as a lady of distinction with charm, dignity, and infinite patience and understanding. Her family came first in her life and all other interests were secondary. Training in her home was the best training for life that any child could have obtained.

Mrs. Hires during her later years lived at her farm "Rehobeth" in Strafford, Pennsylvania. She died at the home of her daughter Mrs. Groff on, 7 October 1955. She is survived by a son Charles Edgar Hires of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; by two daughters Mrs. Marshall Irwin Groff (Jacqueline Hires) of Bryn Mawr and Mrs. Lewis Lindenmuth Schock, Jr. (Thura Hires) of Falls Church, Virginia; and by five grandchildren all members of The Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania.


Samuel Booth Sturgis, M.D.
Honorary President,
The Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania

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