Among the early residents of Hampton Hills was Virgil Oliver Stamps, a gospel singer and promoter who helped make gospel music popular and widely available throughout East Texas and the southern U.S. He is perhaps best known for composing the music to When the Saints Go Marching In.
After attending several music schools, he went to work with James D. Vaughan and ran the Vaughan Publishing Company office in Jacksonville, Texas, from 1915 into the 1920s. In 1924, Stamps opened the V.O. Stamps School of Music in Jacksonville. His friend J.R. Baxter became his business partner and they changed the name of the company to the Stamps-Baxter Music Company in 1927. The company quickly became the nation’s premier gospel music business. Its activities included songwriting, publishing and sponsoring musical groups and radio broadcasts. Baxter oversaw the operations east of the Mississippi River, while Stamps ran the operations in the western U.S. from his Dallas headquarters. This early success enabled Stamps and his wife, Addie, to purchase a new home at 1611 Hollywood Ave., where they lived with their teenage son, Ware.
Stamps-Baxter helped bring gospel music into the mainstream by broadcasting it nationally on radio and by encouraging performance in public. Stamps and his quartet started a noonday radio program on KRLD radio in Dallas in 1936. The program brought him, the company and gospel music increasingly into public view. The radio program was so successful that it enabled Stamps-Baxter to become the most successful publisher of shape-note music in America. The company’s annual Stamps-Baxter School of Music stood as the largest developer of gospel singers in Texas and throughout the south well into the 1950s.
Stamps died of heart disease on Aug. 19, 1940. His funeral was attended by thousands. In 1973, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. The Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted Stamps in 1997. He has also been honored in the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame as a pioneer of gospel music.
Today, Stamps’ former home at 1611 Hollywood Avenue is owned and lovingly cared for by Mary Maddox and Ted Thomas.