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Nocona Boot Company was founded by Miss Enid Justin in 1925. Her goal was simple – to carry on her father’s tradition of making quality western boots in the town he loved.
Her father, H.J. “Daddy Joe” Justin, came to West Texas from Indiana in 1879, carrying with him hope for a new life.
He settled in Spanish Fort, a town that sits in the Red River Valley, right on the Texas-Oklahoma border about 50 miles east of Wichita Falls, Texas on the old Chisholm Trail. Celebrated in frontier lore and cowboy songs, the Chisholm Trail was the site of long trail drives. Over 1,500,000 cattle moved over the famed trail in three years.
With 25 cents and some bootmaking tools, “Daddy Joe” set up a shoe repair shop. When he had enough money, he bought leather for a pair of boots, sold them and bought leather for several more pairs.
“Daddy Joe” was a perfectionist with every detail of his handcraft. He started a tradition of fine bootmaking and when the cowboys came through on cattle drives, he’d measure their feet and on the way back, they would pick up their boots.
In 1887, the railroad came through Nocona, Texas, just south of Spanish Fort. So, “Daddy Joe” moved his family and boot factory to Nocona and the better shipping facilities.
At the age of 12, in 1906, Miss Enid started working in her father’s shop. She dropped out of school in the eighth grade, her rebellion for having been suspended for dancing on Sunday at her brother’s birthday party in her parent’s home.
She worked with her father for the next 12 years learning the fine points of the trade, absorbing his knowledge and his love for the hand-crafted boots.
After “Daddy Joe” died in 1918, other members of the family wanted to move the business to Fort Worth. Miss Enid felt so strongly that “Daddy Joe” wanted the company in Nocona, she stayed. In 1925, her brothers packed up the equipment and moved to Fort Worth.
Miss Enid had made her decision. She borrowed $5,000 to keep seven employees in her small shop and founded the Nocona Boot Company.
During those first years, Miss Enid turned her home into a boarding house, worked as a sales clerk, shipping clerk, stenographer and credit manager. At first, some men had trouble doing business with a lady bootmaker, but they soon discovered the quality was just as good as her late father’s.
The discovery of oil near Nocona brought many new customer’s to Miss Enid’s young company. They made a 16 inch “lace-up” boot that was tough enough to survive the oil fields and the wildcatters kept coming back for more.
Accompanied by her sister, Miss Enid made her first sales trip into West Texas in 1926. “The roads looked like cattle trails in those day’s” she said. “And for good reason, they were cattle trails. Our old Model T took a pretty good beating on that first trip. In fact, we lost a back wheel once, it came loose and jumped over a fence. Despite the hazards of the road, the trip was successful. We came back with a book full of orders and a new market for boots.”
On the way to the company’s national reputation as a quality bootmaker, Miss Enid sponsored a Pony Express race from Nocona to San Francisco. Fourteen cowboys and one cowgirl took off at 9 AM on March 1,1939, from Nocona and the first rider reached San Francisco at 2 PM on March 24th.
In 1981, the Nocona Boot Company merged with Justin Industries, parent company of the Justin Boot Company, bringing the bootmaking histories of the two family companies full circle.