Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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was president of the board of directors of the Young
Men's Christian Association at Childress. His religion
was of the kind that finds its way into all the business
and social affairs of the world, ,iust as it was exempli-
fied in church and Sunday school. The result was that
no man ever had cause to doubt his sincerity and absolute

On July 3, 1901, in Childress, he married Miss Nannie
Edgerton, a native of North Carolina, and a daughter of
T. M. and N. D. Edgerton, of North Carolina, a family
which settled in the Texas Panhandle in the early days,
her father having become one of the well-known stock-
men of his section. Her father enlisted from North



^i:^:^'^'^^— ^


Caroliua in the Civil war, aud ivent tliroughout the eun-
aict iu the Confederate army. Both her parents are
now deceased, her mother having passed away in June,
1909, in Childress, at the age ot sixty-eight, and her
father died there at the age of seventy in 1S99. Mrs.
Norris, who was fifth in a family of eight children, was
reared in Texas, attended the Childress high school, and
it was after graduation from that school that she became
acquainted with Mr. Norris. She is a member of the
Baptist church. The four children of Mr. Norris and
wife were: Nannie N. T. Norris, born at Childress,
April 28, 1902, and now attending school; Eobert H.,
Jr., born at Childress, June 1, 1904, and in school; Tol-
bert Norris, born June 12, 190G, in Childress, and in
school; Janet Irene Norris, born in Childress, January 9,
1909. The late Mr. Norris built and owns the large
building in which his hardware business was conducted,
and the Norris home in Childress, which is one of the
most attractive and comfortable residences of the city, in
which his widow and children now live.

His church, the lodges of the Elks and Knights of
Pythias, all paid his memory high tributes, showing that
no ordinary man had been taken from their brotherhood.
It will serve to supplement, at the risk of some repe-
tition, the above general review of his career to quote
some sentences from some editorials in the two local
papers, written by men who were closely familiar with
his activities in the community:

' ' Starting his business in Childress in a small way
some years ago, Mr. Norris' unusual qualities gradually
attracted to him the best trade of the country, and for
many years his name and goods were household words for
hundreds of miles around on every side. His strict hab-
its, honesty and high business ideals caused his business
to grow year by year, until the firm became one of the
best known in all Northwest Texas. Of recent years
the retail trade of the firm had been somewhat circum-
scribed by the advent of more railroads into the country,
but in lieu thereof they have built up a large wholesale
trade with surrounding towns, and the business still
remains one of the largest in the country.

"Ever since coming to Childress Mr. Norris has
taken a leading part in the social and religious life of
the city and was ever ready to give his labor and money
to any worthy cause that had for its purpose the advance-
ment of the city in any laudable direction. He was a
natural leader of men, and his influence was felt in all
the affairs of Childress. Not many of the permanent
improvements of the city were ever accomplished in
which he did not perform a leading part, both with
means and safe counsel, and it has often been most
truthfully said of him that he was one man of means
that was always willing to use it for public benefit as
well as personal use. He will be missed in the business
and social life of our town and county, but above all
he will be missed in the religious life, especially in
that of his own church. He was always at his post of
duty, letting nothing interfere with the performance of
his obligations to his God. He assisted in the organiza-
tion of the Presbyterian Sunday school, and was the
only superintendent it ever had up to the time of his

Another editorial reads in part as follows: "E. H.
Norris was a man among many thousands. He was
beloved and highly respected by all, no matter what their
manner of life might have been. He was looked upon as
one of the highest type of a business man. He was
prompt and truthful in his business dealings, and it is
doubtful if there was ever a man who had a larger
acquaintance among the farmers and ranchmen of the
State than he, and each one of these men had the most
implicit confidence in the integrity of Mr. Norris.

"Not only was he attentive to business, prompt in all
its demands, but he found time to work for the churches
and the schools of the tovni and county. He was a mem-
ber of the First Presbyterian Church of this city, and had

been superintendent of the Sunday school since its organi-
zation. He was liberal with his money for tlio .•.■niso of
the church, and there never was a subscri|>tii)ii li-t ]iic-
sented to him calling for money with whirli tu lnnl.! a
church but what his name was placed upmi Ihc list, and
the amount was among the largest given. He was a mem-
ber of the Knights of Pythias Lodge of this city, being
made a knight on December 30, 1891. In the early years
of the order in this city he was one of the hardest work-
ing members of the lodge. He rarely missed a meeting,
it is said, and took delight in assisting in the work.
When the Elks were organized in Childress he went in
as a charter member, and has been a friend of the lodge
ever since.

' ' In the work of building up the schools Mr. Norris
had few equals among our people. He has been a mem-
ber of the board of trustees many times, and held that
position at the time of his death. He was a strong advo-
cate of the building of the first brick school building
of the city, and when the question of voting taxes for
this purpose came up, he not only advocated the tax, but
got out and worked for it. The same way in building
up the town. He was ready and anxious to give of his
money and time to any enterprise that was for the
betterment and upbuilding of the place. He was a man
of strong views, and did not hesitate to express them, but
gave to others the same courtesies that he asked and did
not fall out with a man because he did differ with him.

"He will be missed not only among his business asso-
ciates, by his customers, but by the people of the town
and county, irrespective of their calling or vocation. He
was the leader among the people and they will miss that
leadership and it will be a long time, we are afraid,
before another man takes his place. ' '

Capt. Edgar Schkamm. To the struggle for more
liberal government in central Europe, which had its
culmination in 1848 in the suppression of the patriots
and in the self-expatriation of many of their leaders,
the United States owes some of its best citizenship.
Capt. Edgar Schramm, one of San Antonio's most dis-
tinguished citizens, was still a child in Prussia when the
revolt against the Bavarian government was suppressed,
and five years later was lirought to America by his
parents. Here his career has been one crowded with
interesting experiences and notable achievements, and as
an early Texas ranger, soldier, merchant, publisher and
diplomat he has attained unqualified distinction in the
land of his adoption. He was born in Prussia, in 1841,
and is a son of Ernest von Schramm and Apolonia (von
Wyschetzki) von Schramm.

The paternal grandfather of Captain Schramm served
with the Prussian army throughout the Napoleonic wars
as a military surgeon, and achieved eminence both as an
officer and in his profession. Ernest von Schramm was
born in the beautiful and historic city of Danzig, Prus-
sia, on the Baltic sea, in 1808, soon after the edict of
Napoleon declaring Danzig a republic. He received ex-
cellent educational advantages in the Universities of
Bonn and Berlin, and in 1853 came to the United States
with his family and located at New Brnunfi-ls, Texas,
having cast his fortunes with the colony fdim.lpil I'v
Prince Solms-Braunfels. About one ycni- later he re-
moved to Guadaloupe county, locating on a farm on the
San Geronimo river, about" six miles from Seguin, and
there spent the remainder of his life. His wife was the
Countess Apolonia von Wyschetzki, who was born in
Poland, a member of a distinguished family of the
nobility and a beautiful woman of rare talents. She
died in Prussia, to which country she had returned iu
her latter years.

Capt. Edgar Schramm's interesting, varied and event-
ful career began during a time of great hardships to
the early settlers of Texas, arising from lack of money-
making crops, high prices for the bare necessities of
life, depredations bv the hostile Indians and numerous
other adverse conditions. One of his earliest occupa-


tions was driving ox-team freight wagons from Indian-
ola, on the coast, to the interior of Texas, a journey
fraught with great danger and numerous hardships.
Prior to the outljreali of the war between the South and
the North he had joined the volunteer Eanger service
for protection against the Indians, and in that capacity
patrolled the frontier from Bed river to the Eio Grande.
When hostilities were declared between the states, in
April, 1861, he entered the Texas State troops, becom-
ing a member of the First Texas Eegiment of Mounted
Volunteers, which had been organized mainly for pro-
tection against the Indians. He remained with this
organisation for nearly a year, and then joined the
regular Confederate army, receiving a lieutenant's com-
mission in Company F, Thirty-second Texas Cavalry,
Gen. X. P. DeBray 's Brigade, Wharton 's Cavalry Corps.
This company, of which the dashing young lieutenant
later became captain, was recruited at New Braunfels,
and was noted for the men in its ranks who could lay
claim to nobility, and many of whom had seen active
service in the Prussian army. Captain Schramm com-
manded his company throughout the campaign against
Banks, in Louisiana, and among others participated in
the sanguinary engagements at Mansfield, Pleasant Hill
and Yellow Bayou.

On the close of his military service Captain Schramm
engaged in the mercantile business at New Braunfels,
and subsequently went to Galveston, where he was the
proprietor of a wholesale grocery enterprise until 1870,
in which year he transferred his operations and activi-
ties to San Antonio. He disposed of his mercantile in-
terests in 1888, when he established the tirst Democratic
German newspaper in San Antonio, the Texas Staats-
Zeitung. Under his direction and editorship this be-
came one of the important influences in Texas polities,
and contributed materially to the success of a number of
Democrats who rose to high position. At this time Cap-
tain Schramm became himself a prominent figure in San
Antonio politics, and was nominated and made the race
for mayor against Bryan Callaghan, but was defeated by
a small majority. In 1893, during President Cleveland's
second administration, Captain Schramm 's abilities and
talents were recognized by his appointment to the post
of consul-general to the Republic of Uruguay, South
America, a position he held until 1897. Captain Schramm
is now living a somewhat retired life, having disposed
of his interests in the Staats-Zeitung to his son-in-law,
Albert Hohrath, the present publisher and editor. How-
ever, he still retains the vice presidency of the Equitable
Life Insurance Company, of San Antonio, and daily
attends to his property interests in this city. A man
of strong and dominating personality, he has made his
influence forcibly felt in the various fields of endeavor
in which he has been engaged. He has borne a useful
and honorable part in the conduct of public affairs, has
adorned social life by his genial spirit, and set before the
community an example of enterprise in business, integ-
rity in office and moderation in the conduct of life.

Captain Schramm was married to Miss Antonia von
Benner, daughter of Adolph von Benner, who came to
New Braunfels. Texas, as chief of commissary with the
founder, Pr-rrn Snlmc Brninit'i'l«. Seven children have been
born t.. ' :ii."i ., :,' .1 Mi-^. Sriii ;nriiii : Gilbert Ernest, a
taleiitr ^. , _ ii,;!!' .it till' I !iii-innati Conservatory

of -Mii-ir, \:,].-v M |,r,.lr-«(ir .if voice culture in that
noted institution, anil now the leader of his profession in
Texas; Milton, who is connected with the Southwestern
Telephone Company of San Antonio ; Harold, who is
secretary of the Equitable Life Insurance Company of
this city; Darwin, who is connected with the Southwest-
ern Telephone Company; Texas, attorney-at-law in San
Antonio; Hertha, who married Albert Hohrath, pub-
lisher and editor of the Texas Staats-Zeitiinfj, and Miss
Tonny, at home with her father.

James Everett McAsh.\n. Besides his well-known
position as a Texas banker, being vice-president and

cashier of the South Texas Commercial National Bank
of Houston, Mr. McAshan was president of the Houston
Clearing House in 1911-13, was vice president twice for
Texas of the American Bankers Association, is jjresident
of the M. P. Oil Company, president of the Eiee Land
Lumber Company, a director of the Houston Hotel Asso-
ciation and of the Houston Printing Company, and is
trustee and vice president of the William M. Eice Insti-
tute for Advancement of Literature, Science and Art.

Mr. McAshan, who is remotely descended from Scot-
tish covenanters and French Huguenots, was born in
Fayette county, Texas, October 20, 1857. His father,
Samuel Maurice McAshan, was an early settler in Texas,
arriving in 1S44, before the annexation to the United
States and while Texas was a republic. His wife, Martha
Bebeeca Eanes, came to the state about the same time.
They were both natives of Virginia, but did not meet
until after they came to Texas. Both were consistent
members of the Methodist church, and their elegant
home in Houston during the early days was often offered'
for the entertainment of the bishops and other promi-
nent dignitaries of the church while at Houston. They
were among the best known citizens and social factors in
Houston of the past generation, and personally com-
bined the finest integrity of character with agreeable
manners, and the fine culture of educated people.

James Everett McAshan received his education largely
in private schools in Houston and elsewhere, and has
been practically all of his active career of more than
forty years identified with banking. He began as a
clerk in 1872, and has been continuously at the same
line of business ever since. He was for a number of
years with the private banking house of T. W. House,
then went with the South Texas National Bank at its
organization in 1890, and later with the succeeding or-
ganization, known as the South Texas Commercial Na-
tional Bank, in which he holds the ofiiee of vice president,
cashier and director. His standing among Texas bank-
ers is well indicated by his election as president of the
Texas Bankers Association for 1902-03.

Mr. McAshan is a Democrat in his political views, and
for a short time served as a member of the board of
liquidation of the city of Houston. Although a practical
business man, he is in many respects a student, has a
wide and interesting range of knowledge such as would
hardly be expected of a successful banker. To many
he is known as an orator and after-dinner speaker, has
done much work as a writer and lecturer on religious
and secular subjects, and particularly as a lecturer and
as an often-consulted authority on banking. Mr. Mc-
Ashan belongs to the Z. Z. Club, the Houston Country
Club, the Texas Historical Society, the National Geo-
graphical Society, and the American Forestry Associa-
tion. Since 1876 he has been a steward and one of the
active working members of the First Methodist Church
of Houston.

Mr. McAshan was married October 20, 1880, at Hunts-
ville, Texas, to Miss Liz?ie Smith. Mrs. McAshan her-
self has an interesting family history, and belongs to
one of the best known households of the South. Her
parents were Dr. Hildreth H. and Mary Brent Hoke
Smith, formerly from North Carolina. Mrs. McAshan
is a sister of the Georgian statesman. Senator Hoks
Smith, and another of her brothers is Bu/ton Smith, one
of the ablest lawyers of the South. Her father, Dr.
Smith, a graduate of Bowdoin CoUese of Maine, was a
great scholar and one of the ablest educators of his time.
His name properly has a permanent place in the history
of the city of Houston, as the founder of the public
schools in that city. Mrs. McAshan 's maternal uncle,
Eobert F. Hoke, was the youngest general in the Con-
federate army. Mrs. McAshan in 1878 graduated from
the Packer Collegiate Institute of Brooklyn, New York.
To their marriage were born the following children:
Samuel Maurice, who married Aline Harris; ilary Brent,
the wife of Dr. J. P. Gibbs; Hoke Smith McAshan; Hil-
dreth Nabors, who married AUine Ehode ; James Everett,

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Jr., who married Laurie Ward; Eobert Burton, and Vir-
ginia, who died in 1S94.

Egbert Emmett Swinney. One of the old
of Chambers county, and representing both on his
father's and mother's side two of the pioneer families
in southern Texas, Eobert Emmett Swinney is an old
cattleman and merchant, and at the present time is hon-
ored with two important public offices, that of post-
master at Anahuao, and as county treasurer of Chambers

Robert Emmett Swinney was born at Wallisville, the
old county seat of Chambers county, in 1857. His
parents were Newton and Julia (Wallis) Swinney, both
now deceased. His father, who was born and reared at
Atlanta, Georgia, came with his widowed mother and
her family to Texas about 1S34 or 1835. Their settle-
ment was at Moss' Bluflf in Liberty county, just north
of what is now the Chambers county line. Grand-
mother Swinney brought a number of slaves to Georgia,
and her farming and other business affairs were man-
aged by her older son, John Swinney. From that time,
still within the period of Mexican rule, until the present,
the Swinney family has had large and substantial in-
terests in business and affairs in this part of the state.
Newton Swinney lived a long period of years at Wallis-
ville. Julia Wallis, the mother of the Anahuac post-
master, was a daughter of E. H. E. Wallis, a native of
Louisiana, and auioug the very earliest American pio-
neers of Texas. He settled in Liberty county during the
early twenties, and his name has long had a secure
place in the geography and commercial history of the
state as founder of the town of Wallisville, which be-
came the county seat of Chambers county when that
county was formed out of Liberty county.

It was at Wallisville that Eobert Emmett Swinney
was reared, and most of his education was obtained at
Eockport. His early interests were identified with stock
raising and farming, and later he engaged in business
at Anahuac, in which old community his home has been
more or less continuously since about 1888. In 1894 he
was first appointed postmaster at Anahuac, and has
given efficient and satisfactory service to the public
ever since. About ten years previous to his first appoint-
ment he had also served a short time as postmaster. In
1907 Mr. Swinney was appointed county treasurer of
Chambers county, and was regularly elected in 1908,
again in 1910, and by reelection in 1912 still holds that
official honor.

Mr. Swinney married Miss Mattie J. Perrin, who was
born and reared at Montgomery, Alabama. They are
the parents of one daughter. May, wife of G. P. Mitchell,
a merchant of Anahuac.

Charles C. Highsmith. This well-known Houston
lawyer, who has practiced in that city since 1904, and
who came from Bastrop,, is the son of an old settler
of Bastrop county, and a venerable lawyer, who was a
member of the Texas bar for the extraordinary period
of fifty-nine years. Mr. Highsmith, aside from his work
as a lawyer, has interested himself in one of the most
important social and benevolent movements of this
century, in behalf of what are known as delinquent
boys, and belongs to the national organization of workers
in that field, and as a member of the Texas legislature
was joint author of what is known as the Delinquent
Boys' Bill, one of the most important social statutes
now written in the laws of Texas.

Charles C. Highsmith was born at Bastrop, Texas, in
1867, a son of Captain William Andrew and Lelia (Dab-
ney) Highsmith. His father, who was born in Missouri,
came to Texas in 1853, being one of the early settlers
at Bastrop. He married in that locality, and in a few
years became very prominent in local affairs. During
the Civil War he was a member of Green 's Brigade.
Following the war he took up the practice of law at
Bastrop, and at the time of his death in December 1912,
Vol IV— 8

was one of the oldest residents and lawyers in that sec-
tion of the state, having lived at Bastrop for nearly
sixty years. Among other honors he served as the first
county clerk of Bastrop county, after the Civil War.
He was retired from active practice during his later
years. The mother, who came of a Virginia family, is
stm Uving.

The early education of Charles C. Highsmith was a
product of local schools, and he subsequently was a
student in the Agricultural and Mechanical College of
Texas, and took his law course in the University of
Texas, where he graduated LL. B. in 1887. His ex-
perience as a lawyer covers a full quarter of a century,
and at its beginning he was associated with Wash Jones
in Bastrop. For four years he was county attorney of
Bastrop county. Since 1904 he has had a larger field
for his professional efforts in the city of Houston. Mr.
Highsmith has his offices in the Prince Theatre Building,

He represented Harris county in the thirty-first and
thirty-second legislature, from 1908 to 1912, and while
in the house was chairman of the Judiciary Districts
Committee, member of Judiciary Committee No. 1, Crim-
inal Jurisprudence Committee, Cities and Towns Com-
mittee, and various others. As already stated, he assisted
in the preparation of and introduced and secured the
passage of the "Juvenile Training School Bill," more
popularly known as the Delinquent Boys' Act. Mr.
Highsmith has taken the York degrees in Masonry, being
a member of the Lodge, Chapter and Commandery, and
also belongs to Ben Hur Temple, Mystic Shrine. His
other affiliations are with the Knights of Pythias, the
Woodmen of the World, the Benevolent and Protective
Order of Elks, and others. In 1899 occurred his mar-
riage to Miss Nora V. Olive, daughter of Ira W. Olive
of Lexington, Nebraska. They have no children, and
their home is at 2504 Hamilton street.

M. Van Zandt. The close of the great
struggle between the North and the South found many
of the best citizens of the Southwest in decidedly
straitened circumstances. Men who had fought valiantly
throughout the four years of the terrible warfare returned
to their homes to find that the hardest battles were stiU
before them, the cruel, grinding battles that must be
won before they could place themselves in the positions
which they had left to go forth and fight for the ' ' Lost
Cause." Many were broken in health and fortune, but
few in spirit, and among the leading men in every activ-
ity in Texas today are found those who were compelled
to start life anew during the dark period that followed
the close of actual hostilities. At the cessation of the
war there came to Fort Worth from Marshall, Texas,
a young lawyer, Khleber M. Van Zandt, who had deported
himself so gallantly during his military service as to
win the rank of major. Today the humble lawyer is the
directing head of one of the largest financial institutions
of Texas, is prominently identified with the commercial •
and industrial enterprises of wide scope, and is firmly
established as a man whose influence is felt in every
walk of life. His career is an excellent illustration of
what was accomplished by those who retained their cour-
age in spite of all misfortunes and disappointments —
who were large enough to rise above the discouragements
that had been theirs.

Khleber M. Van Zandt, president of the Fort Worth
National Bank, was born in Franklin county, Tennessee,
November 7, 1836, and is a son of Isaac "and Frances
Cooke (Lipscombj Van Zandt. Before he was three
years of age he was brought by his parents to Marshall,
Texas, and his early education was secured in private

Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 10 of 177)