The Somervell County Heritage Society houses the Vernon Lemens Legislative Library in a small upstairs room on the square. The library fosters the notes and correspondence of Texas Senator Vernon Lemens.
Lemens was born William Vernon McKinney Lemens on Sept. 3 1899 to James and Martha Lemens. He was the oldest of four children and the family moved to a farm near Rainbow, Texas in 1906.
James Lemens was a farmer, but after a few failed years, he decided to switch professions and opened a barbershop in Rainbow. Martha Lemens was the switchboard operator.
Vernon Lemens attended Glen Rose High School for one week, before deciding he would rather study at home instead of traveling the four miles to the high school. After intense studying, Lemens took the teacher certification exam and passed. He subsequently applied for a principal position at Prairie Creek and was accepted. He was 15 years old.
The state law at the time prohibited Lemens from taking the job, however. In 1916, he decided to go to college and attended North Texas State Normal College in Denton. He had to work his way through school and did everything from grooming clay tennis courts to coaching tennis players.
He volunteered for the Army during WWI in 1918. He joined the Student Army Training Corp and was able to complete his degree in 1921, majoring in physics.
After graduation, he held a few principal positions, including one in Rainbow. From there, he developed political aspirations and decided to run for a spot in the Texas House of Representatives. He lost by less than 200 votes.
Undaunted, he tried again and won in 1929. He stayed in the House until 1936 when he was elected to the Texas State Senate.
Between terms, Lemens attended the University of Texas and earned a law degree. He also met Lylia Engberg and was instantly struck by her charm. In his memoirs, Lemens noted that Engberg would not date House members, but set about impressing her anyway. He convinced his church council to hire the young woman as a secretary, saying it was the only time he used his position in the church for personal gain.
The pair was married on May 14, 1933.
On April 6, 1942, Lemens was notified that he had been called for active duty in the Army.
He worked stateside for the Army prosecuting war criminals and prisoners of war. Due to his military service, Lemens was unable to campaign for re-election and consequently lost his seat in the Senate.
In the fall of 1945, Lemens separated from the Army and joined the Texas National Guard. He retired in 1960 from the Guard and never returned to politics.
The Heritage Society does not have a record of Lemens’ death, but his public service acts live on through his notes.
Lemens gave his legislative papers to the Somervell County Library in 1978 and they remain in the building along with his desk, office carpet and curtains.
Director Betty Gosdin said no one is able to take care of the library on a regular basis and some of the relics are starting to show their age.
For more information about the Vernon Lemens Legislative Library, visit the Somervell County Heritage Society in downtown Glen Rose.