W. T. Block
a novel history with Lamar
Reprinted from Lamar University 75th Anniversary
Not surprisingly, W. T. Block professes a novel history with Lamar University.
The mid-Jefferson County native and World War II veteran had been out of high school 27
years when he decided it was about time to go to college. Employed as assistant post
master in Nederland by day, Block "set myself on a schedule, taking 12 hours at night
in the fall and nine in the spring. I kept that up for six years."
In 1970, at age 50 W. T. Block earned the first of two degrees from Lamar, a bachelor
of arts in history. His love of chronicling had begun when he was a boy subscribing
to historical magazines. Of particular interest: the Civil War.
The ink was not yet dry on his undergraduate degree when Block signed up for graduate
school. Still working as a postmaster, he taught beginning history classes at Lamar on his
off-nights while completing course work for a masters degree in history, awarded in
Blocks masters thesis served double duty as a degree requirement and a gift
to local historical archives.
"The History of Jefferson County from Wilderness to Reconstruction is
probably the thickest masters thesis in the library," laughs Block, now 78.
It was a true labor of love, and 100 percent self-published -- hand-collated and
bound over four weekends in 1976. Within three months, Block had sold enough books
to recoup his investment; in six months, he had sold all 800 copies. The book remains out
of print but is available on loan from Lamars Cray Library.
Block retired from postal work in 1973 and looked for work on campus in the business
office. No such position was available, but, as luck would have it, the campus
needed a post-master, and Block certainly had the experience. He spent the next 10
years as Lamars postmaster. During his lunch hour, he could often be found reading
microfilm in the library, gathering more tidbits for more engaging revelations of times
Since W. T. Block started writing, he has hardly stopped, publishing nine books and
countless articles. He continues to contribute to newspapers and historical
journals, and made some history of his own recently authoring a web site designed to
invite dialog among historians.