When the Mingus family left in 1868 the area was largely unpopulated and dwindling. A settlement at the current location of Mingus would not exist for another 20 plus years.
The Texas and Pacific Railway came through the southern portion of Palo Pinto County in the fall of 1880. The town of Gordon was specifically plotted by T&P as a shipping center and was initially populated by the recently nearby settlement of Hampton and people that flocked to there to work in the Gordon Coal Mines east of town. Eight miles down the line to the west, North Fork (later Strawn) was developed as nearby settlements merged. The only mention of Mingus in the area was a small lake north of the present-day town named Mingus Lake. This lake is mentioned as far back as 1887 and appears to have been located north of town. It was known later as Mingus Little Lake and had a popular early day picnic area used by the locals. There is a large “Lake Mingus” north of town today, however it was constructed in 1922 by Texas and Pacific Railway (at a reported cost of $100,000).
When the Johnson Coal Mines became successful enough to attract Texas and Pacific Railway’s interest, they agreed to run a spur down to the mines at a point just west of the present-day Highway 108 crossing in Mingus. The Johnson Mines were sold to the Texas and Pacific Coal Company (not related to the railroad) in late 1888 and as operations grew there a company owned town was established and given the name Thurber in 1889 after company stockholder Horace K. Thurber. Thurber’s coal was the cash crop; however, Thurber also became almost more famous for its brick plant. As Thurber’s travel and shipping via T&P Railway increased, the area south of the main T&P line at the spur was developed. This area was first known as Coal Mine Junction and later named Hunter before the name Thurber Junction was selected as the town name.
Thurber Junction quickly grew and became infiltrated with some of Thurber’s immigrant families seeking more commercial business, taking advantage of the high traffic at the spur. Hotels, banks, stores, and other popular businesses filled the commercial section of town near the tracks.
In 1895 Reverend J.T. Harris established a real estate business and laid out blocks for a town on the north side of the T&P main line, literally across the tracks from Thurber Junction. Rev. Harris heavily promoted this development and gave it the name Mingus after learning about the early settler Capt. Mingus. Mingus became inhabited by more of the local area farmer types, and not of those inhabiting Thurber Junction. It was like an almost separate community was formed within spitting distance. One account referred to Mingus as the “English Speaking Town” while Thurber Junction was referred to as “entirely owned by immigrants and more lawless and wilder than Mingus.” Whether that was the case or not, it is well established that alcohol did flow much more freely on the south side of the tracks, which likely promoted more lawlessness.
As the Mingus settlement grew, a post office was established on September, 16, 1897. Local resident Joel Brock served as the first postmaster.
While Mingus and Thurber Junction were so heavily tied to Thurber in their existence, they were very different places. For instance, the company owned town of Thurber famously became the first city in the United States to provide 24 hour electricity to all residents and businesses in the 1890s, along with a host of other amenities. The Mingus/Thurber Junction community was not as fortunate. Electricity didn’t find its way to Mingus until 1914 when a line was run from Gordon’s power generator. Gordon’s generator was a dynamo connected to a 10 horsepower gasoline engine and provided power from six o’clock in the evening until midnight as well as Wednesday mornings from eight until noon to allow for ironing during the day. Most homeowners quickly wired in rudimentary lighting in their homes as, while it wasn’t what we are accustomed to today, it was far better than kerosene lamps.
Another community with ties to Mingus and Thurber was Grant Town. It was located between Thurber Junction and Thurber, just inside Palo Pinto County. A man by the name of Jimmy Grant opened a saloon at this location, which was just outside the city limits of Thurber. His saloon was frequented by miners who could talk freely about unionization without fear of company intimidation. Some immigrant Thurber miners moved out of Thurber to Grant Town to own homes and small businesses. The area became known as 'Grant's Town' shortened to 'Grant Town.' This community had many of the same features previously noted about Thurber Junction, with possibly a little more prohibition-era bootlegging going on due to its closer proximity to Thurber.
While Thurber had its own school for those living inside the confines of the company town, those outside of town had to generally fend for themselves. A small school was built in Grant Town and this school also served Mingus and Thurber Junction. Eventually a larger wooden school building was constructed in the Mingus community, north of the railroad. Brick school buildings were later built a few blocks south of the tracks.
Mingus/Thurber Junction enjoyed several years of success while Thurber was going strong. Some reports indicate that the population grew to as many as 2000 inhabitants by the 1920s. With the population increase came more violence and tragedy. It was reported that in 1917 alone there were 12 murders, 12 deadly car wrecks, 6 suicides, 4 deaths as a result of the railroad, 4 fire fatalities, and 3 drownings in the Mingus/Thurber Junction community.
As coal faded from popularity for oil, the town of Thurber suffered greatly. T&P Coal’s 1917 discovery of oil in Ranger, helped to set off a series of events that would spell the end of Thurber as it was. The demand for coal rapidly diminished over the next few years. The last of the coal mined in Thurber occurred in 1926 and the company set in motion a plan to dismantle the once thriving community.
The stock market crash of 1929 helped to drive a final nail in the coffin of Thurber as just a few months later the Thurber Brick plant was closed. The plant would reopen briefly in 1931 but eventually closed permanently and by 1937 Thurber, once a town of over ten thousand inhabitants, was abandoned.
As Thurber faded from existence, the Mingus area lost its primary lifeline. The Mingus/Thurber Junction population dwindled down to around 300 inhabitants and eventually Thurber Junction and Grant Town became part of Mingus when it incorporated in 1934.
The town of Mingus survived the loss of Thurber largely due to it's first mayor, Lawrence Santi. Mr. Santi was a civic minded mayor, holding office for over three decades and he also served as a town druggist for almost 60 years.