Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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Some little time after this Mr. Spellman and his
brother were employed in railroad work as sub-
contractors on the grading of the M. K. & T. railroad
at Fort Worth; on the Pecos River section of the Texas
& Pacific; on the Texas Central, or the Waco Tap; on
the Fort Worth & Denver in Wise county; then on to
the Texas Midland construction and later to the Vicks-
burg, Shreveport and Meridian in Louisiana. After this
long season of railroad contracting, the brothers pooled
their savings and bought one hundred and ninety acres
of land, paying cash on the purchase of $800. This
tract, it should be stated, forms a part of the domain
which "Mike" Spellman now owns. They continued
together for a number of years, and when they dis-
solved partnership, their holdings had increased very
materially, Mike Spellman 's portion being 357 acres.
This he continued to actively cultivate until 1908, when
he moved his family to Forney. While on the farm he
built several small houses upon it, a mammoth barn,
and a central country home of ten rooms, all of which
improvements served to mark his place conspicuously
among the more advanced farmers of Kaufman county.

On coming to Forney Mr. Spellman purchased the
Ehea home on Center street, which he remodeled into
one of the commodious and attractive homes of the town.
Many years ago Mr. Spellman identified himself with
banking interests, and he has for fifteen years been a
director of the Farmers' National Bank of Forney, and
for thirteen years he has been president of the First
National Bank of Crandall. He is a Democrat, and
is a member of the Council of Forney, on which body he
has given exceDent service in behalf of his home com-

In August, 1907, Mr. Spellman was married in Dallas
county to Miss Carrie Hufiines, a daughter of Charles
Huffines, who came to Texas from Simpson county, Ken-
tucky, in 1882. Mr. and Mrs. Spellman have three
children: Corinne, Patsy and Helen. The family are
members of the Presbyterian church of Forney and
Mr. Spellman is a deacon in that body.

Few men in the community or the county have a
better position, either in business or social circles than
has Mr. Spellman, and he has risen above the unto-
ward conditions and circumstances of his youth in a
manner that entitles him to the highest praise. No ele-
ment of luck or chance, or any assistance from outside
quarters has entered into his success. It has been evolved
bit by bit from his own energy, ambition and native wit
and ingenuity. He has been for years a power in his
community, and with his family he enjoys the con-
fidence aiid esteem of the representative i}eople of the
town, as well as the genuine friendship of a host of

Newton Hance Lassitee. One of the best known and
most successful attorneys of Fort Worth, Mr. Lassiter,
besides a large private practice as attorney, represent-



ing several railwajs and other corporations, is presi-
dent of one of the important insurance companies of
Fort Worth, and at different times has become a pub-
lic-spirited leader in movements for civic betterment.

Newton Hance Lassiter was born on a farm in Hen-
derson county, Tennessee, on the thirteenth of Septem-
ber, 1S62. His father, Henry Lassiter, was a native of
Tennessee, being of the same family as Andrew John-
son, governor of Tennessee, and later vice president
and president of the United States during and succeed-
ing Lincoln's administration. Henry Lassiter married
Eliza Boswell. The father was engaged in farming and
was fairly prosperous until the Civil war, which swept
away all his property. Later he continued in the same
calling and recovered considerable part of his former
prosperity. In 1S71 the family moved to Lexington,
Tennessee, where the father died in 1873, leaving a
comfortable estate. The mother died in Fort Worth
in 1912 at the home of her son, Newton H. There were
five children, three of whom died in infancy.

Newton H. Lassiter has a brother, Robert Lee Las-
siter, who also took up law as his profession, and for
some time was a member of the Fort Worth bar, but
considerations of health led him to abandon his pro-
fessional career, and he is now engaged in farming at
Lawson, Arkansas.

Newton H. Lassiter received his education in the
schools of Lexington, Tennessee, and later in Cum-
berland University at Lebanon, where he was grad-
uated in law in ISSl. During his earlier life Mr. Las-
siter suffered the handicap of ill health, and for a time
this caused him to turn aside from his professional
career and engage in )';ii miiiL;. Finally opening an
oiEce at Lexington, Timiim-.,, . m ;i ~li(jrt time lie had
built up a good business t In nii-lMnir the surroun<ling
county. Lexington at tliat tiiiw was off the line of
railroad, and it was as a result of his desire to have a
field where the opportunities were greater that he de-
cided to come to Texas. Thus in 1885 he found a loca-
tion in Fort Worth, and has witnessed and been a part
in the development of this city for nearly thirty years.

It was in March, 1885, that he arrived in the city
which was to be his future home, and his decision to
make a change proved to be a wise one, for his success
here not only equaled but surpassed that in his home
town. In 1887 he was appointed local attorney for the
Cotton Belt Eailroad Company at Fort Worth, and
represented that corporation ten years. Two years
later, in December, 1889, he received appointment as
general attorney of the Fort Worth & Rio Grande
Railroad Company and acted in that capacity for
twelve years. As a railroad attorney his reputation
grew and gave him notice much beyond the ordinary
limits of local practice. In 1892 the Chicago, Rock
Island & Texas Railway Company appointed him local
attorney and he continued with the Rock Island Rail-
way Company until 1902, when he was appointed assist-
ant general "attorney of the road. Few lawyers in
Texas have been more successful in handling the com-
plicated business of a railway counsel, and his ability
led to his promotion in October, 1910, as general attor-
ney of the Eock Island System in Texas. At the same
time of his appointment as general attorney of the
Rock Island, Mr. Lassiter was also made general attor-
ney of the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railway, and repre-
sents both lines at this time.

Mr. Lassiter represents a number of important finan-
cial concerns in Fort Worth, among these being the
Employers Liabilit.y Assurance Association of London,
England, and the Aetna Life Insurance Company of
Hartford, Connecticut. He has always taken an impor-
tant part in business affairs, and being a really public-
spirited man, has done much to aid in the advancement
and progress of the city along lines which have in-
creased the advantages and resources of the community
in every way. Mr. Lassiter is president of the Fort

Worth Life Insurance Company, and is a director of
the American National Bank of Fort Worth. In 1911
he served as president of the Fort Worth Chamber of
Commerce, and has membership in various business and
social and civic organizations. He is an Elk and be-
longs to Lodge No. 124 at Fort Worth.

Mr. Lassiter was married on July 9, 1890, to Miss
Sarah Elizabeth Davis, a daughter of Henry and Sarah
Elizabeth Davis. Two daughters have been* born to
them: Helen Davis Lassiter, who was born May 1,
1892, and Henry Ruth Lassiter, born July 1, 1894.

WiLLi.^M L. Browning. As the proprietor of the Iowa
Park Improvement Company, Incorporated, which he
purchased in 1911, William L. Browning occupies a
place among the leading business men of the town,
and the head of one of the most prosperous institutions
of its kind in the country. Mr. Browning was born in
Penola county, Texas, on September 25, 1870, and is a
son of John E. and Julia (Ballard) Browning.

Concerning the parents of Mr. Browning, it is known
that they were natives of Tennessee and that they
came to Texas in 1866, locating in Panola county,
where they devoted themselves to farming and stock
raising. In later years they moved to Wise county,
and there the father and mother now reside at the age
of eighty-two years, respectively. They became the
parents of nine" children, and William L. Browning of
this brief review was the seventh in order of birth.

As a boy William L. Browning attended the schools
of Lampasas county, in Texas, and then took up agri-
cultural pursuits, continuing to be engaged thus in
various parts of the state for some time. He finally
settled in Wise county, where he continued for twelve
years, coming to Wichita county in 1906 and identify-
ing himself with the farming activities of the county.
He was successful in that industry, and in 1911 added
another enterprise to his activities, when he bought
out the Iowa Park Improvement Company, and has
since busied himself with its affairs.

Mr. Browning is a citizen of the most exemplary
type, and takes his place among the men of the com-
munity who are continually adding to its development
and upbuilding. He is a Democrat, but not especially
active in politics, and has served his town as a trustee
on the school board. His churchly afliliations are with
the Baptist church.

On July 20, 1895, Mr. Browning was married to Miss
Emily Mount, of Rome, Texas, the daughter of Mr. and
Mrs. J. H. Mount of that place, both of whom are
deceased. Five children have been born to Mr. and
Mrs. Browning, as follows: Carla Browning, born on
May 31, 1897, in Wise county, now attending school;
Edna, born in 1899, also in Wise county; Nolan, born
in 1901; Ernest, born in 1906, and Paul Browning, born
in Wichita county in 1909.

Robert L. El.a.ffer. In the operations over the south-
east Texas oil fields, during the past ten years, one
of the best known workers has been Robert L. Blaffer,
now head of the E. L. Blaffer & Company, with oflBces
in the Carter Building at Houston. Mr. Blaffer is a man
of southern birth and parentage, who was equipped with
a college education, but began life at a very early age
and has worked his own way into prominence both in
business and social affairs. ,

Born in New Orleans, in 1875, he is a son of .John A.
and Clementine Amelia (Schneider) Blaffer. His father,
who saw four years of service in the Confederate army,
under General" Lee, was a lumber merchant at New
Orleans, and for many years after the war continued in
the same line of business in that city where he still
resides. With an education acquired in the schools of
New Orleans and at Tulane University, R. L. Blaffer
started his business career at the age of sixteen. The
experience of his early years was chiefly in the coal
business. He possessed the initiative and enterprise



necessary for independent effort, and readily adapted
himself to the new opportunities presented wlien the oil
excitement at Beaumont became acute in 1901. In 1902
he began business at Beaumont as an oil producer, and it
is along that line that his activities have continued to
the present time. In 1906, with the shifting of the
center of interest to the Humble oil fields, Mr. Blaffer
moved his headquarters to Houston, which city has since
been his home. The firm of R. L. Blaflfer & Company,
have large interests in both the Beaumont and Humble
oil fields, and are among the largest independent pro-
ducers of oil in this part of the state.

Mr. Blaffer is one of the directors of the South Texas
Commercial National Bank of Houston. He belongs to
all the best Houston social clubs, and as a Mason has
membership in Hermitage Lodge, No. 98, A. F. & A.
M., at New Orleans.

In April, 1909, occurred the marriage of Mr. E. L.
Blaffer and Miss Sarah Turnbull Campbell. Her father
was W. T. Campbell of Lampasas, a well known banker,
who was one of the original members of the Hogg-
Swayne Syndicate and of the Texas Company. Mr. and
Mrs." Blaffer have one son, John Hepburn Blaffer. Their
home is 1009 Elgin Avenue in Houston.

Leonidas B. Sowell, M. D. Successful both as a phy-
sician and as a farmer. Dr. Leonidas B. Sowell has gained
prominence in this city and county, where all his life has
been spent. He is the son of a physician who gained
prominence in these parts, and the son is carrying on his
work in a manner that is highly creditable to him, both
in his profession and as a farming man. He was born
at Scyene in Dallas county, Texas, on May :.''.i, is?-,
and is the son of Dr. Connor B. and Tcxi^ iMr(;c,'i
Sowell. Dr. Connor B. Sowell died Septemlici- 1 I. issr,,
and Mrs. Sowell makes her home in Waxah.-nli ic, 'r.x.i-.

Dr. Connor B. Sowell was one of the fir^t phy^. j;, ns
of Forney, and he located in the town wlirn it u:i^
merely a station on the line of the Texas ;*^ I'a. ilii ,
being one of the first medical men to engayi' in jirac-
tice here. He was a son of Rev. A. M. K. Sowell,
â– widely known in his day in religious circles as a min-
ister of the Baptist faith, who gave the vigor of his
entire life to the work of his church in Dallas and
Kaufman counties. Rev. Sowell was born in Missis-
d his education was a matter of observation
rather than of actual training. He
came to Texas in 1859, having entered the Baptist min-
istry in his native state, and he became one of the
most energetic and effective preachers in these parts.
He served as pastor at Kemp, and also preached at
Long Creek in Dallas county for many years, although
he did not confine his activities to those places alone,
for his voice was heard in the admonition of his fel-
lows in every community in this section of the state,
and none was more highly esteemed in tlii> uiiiiistiy
than was he. He continued to wage his wai' a^ain^t
sin until his strength left him, and he did at tli.' a-r
of eighty-eight years. He married ilary .J. Moore,
who died when about eighty years of age, and their
children were as follows: Hamilton, engaged in lum-
bering and stock raising in New Mexico: Mary, who
died in Kaufman county as the wife of George Strat-
ton; Sallie, who married Samuel Murphy and spent
her life in Kaufman county: Dr. Connor B., father of
the subject; Alice, who married Dr. Stroud and passed
the closing years of her life in Terrell, Texas; Thomas
and Marion both died hei e ; Emory, who was a Con-
federate soldier and died in the service; Jason, a resi-
dent of Forney, who has served Kaufman county many
years as county assessor and county commissioner; and
Archibald Sowell, assistant county assessor of Kauf-
man county.

Dr. Conner B. Sowell was born in Mississippi, in
1853, and he gained his education there in the com-
mon schools such as the district afforded after the war.


He was ambitious and enterprising, and it was chiefly
his own initiative that made possil>le his college educa-
tnn, .and lie was j;radiiairi| finin Tulaue University in
]s71. ill tiM' d.'|.aMiiirni nf iiir-lirui,., after which he
iM'iil tn till' riiix.'isity III' l,iiiiis\ ille, and added an-
(ithiT <-oursc, gi ailiiat iiig in 1 ss;i. lie began and finished
his medical practice in Forney, forming a partner-
ship here in 1874 with Dr. N. E. Shands, and con-
tinuing with him in professional work for several years.
He gave his life to his profession, for which he was
amply fitted by talent and training, and he was en-
dowed by nature with many social gifts that endeared
him to his community.

A good business man. Dr. Sowell acquired a goodly
quantity of farm lands around Forney and was begin-
ning to develop them into creditable farms when he
was called by death. He was known for one of the
early business men of the town, for he it was who
established the first harness store in the place, as a
member of the firm of Sowell & Turner, and also the
first grocery store, under the firm name of Sowell &
Sowell. He early recognized the utility of barbed
wire for fencing purposes, and he was one of the first
land owners to bring in a car load and enclose his
fields therewith, the vogue of that community spread-
ing rapidly from his example.

In 1871 Dr. Connor B. Sowell married Miss Texis
McGee in Dallas county, Texas. She was a daughter
of Dr. M. J. M. McGee of Kaufman county, who came
here from Sulphur Springs, Texas, where Mrs. Sowell
was born in 1852. Their children were six in num-
ber, and are named as follows: Leonidas B., of this
review; Pearl and Daisey, who died in childhood; Miss
Willie, a music teacher in Forney; Miss Beuna, a kin-
dergarten teacher of Waxahachie; and Curg B., who
died in Forney, Texas, at the age of nine years. Dr.
Sowell was a man who undeniably possessed the key
to social success. A real lover of mankind, he per-
formed his professional work with an eye to the ben-
efiting of his fellows, and the result of his activities
was that he gained a popularity that was measured only
by the limits of his acquaintance. He w-as active in
church work, and when he died in 1885 he was an
elder in the Presbyterian church.

Leonidas B. Sowell, M. D., was born in Sceyne, Dallas
county, as has already been stated, but his parents
moved to Forney very soon after his birth, so that this
has been his home practically all his days. Sceyne, it
might be mentioned, was the home of the famous
Younger Brothers, who terrorized the state for a time,
and while resident there the Sowells formed the inti-
mate acquaintance of some of the world 's famous
bandits. Leonidas Sowell was given a public school
education in Forney and he attended Trinity Univer-
sity at Tehuacana to the senior year. He gained his
medical training in the University of Louisville, also
the Alma Mater of his honored father, and he was
graduated from that well known institution in 1893.
Not yet twenty-one when he was awarded his med-
ical diploma. Dr. Sowell promptly engaged in practice
here where he was reared, and where his father had
long been identified in medical practice before him,
and he has already given some twenty years of his
life in the profession. In 1913 he took a post-gradu-
ate course in the New Orleans Polyclinic and has in
other ways fortified himself in the knowledge of his
profession, of which he has been and still is a close
student, keeping well abreast of the advance in med-
ical research. He has identified himself in an active
manner with the medical societies of the country, being
president of the Kaufman County Medical Society,
as well as a member of the same, and is also a member
of the North Texas and the Texas State Medical

Like his father, also, he has manifested a consid-
erable interest and activity in farming, and carries



on some rather extensive operations in that line. He
emploj's every modern method along the lines of
labor saving devices, etc., and is progressive to the last

Dr. Sowell is a Democrat, and a member of the Ma-
sonic fraternity, being a past master and having rep-
resented Forney three times in the Grand Lodge of
the State.

In September, 1897, Dr. Sowell was married to Miss
Pauline Eugel, a daughter of J. C. Eugel, once a mer-
chant but now a banker of Mesquite, Texas, and a
settler from Tennessee, The children of Dr. and Mrs.
Sowell are Miriam, Eugel, Flora and Frederick. The
family are Presbyterian people, with membership in
that church, which has for generations claimed for
its own representatives of both families. The Sowells
enjoy a fine social position here and in the county, and
have a leading party in the representative social activ-
ities of the place.

Arthur M. Mosse. Among the men to whom the
city of Denison is indebted for its prestige as a center
of "commercial activity is found Arthur M. Mosse, retail
and wholesale dealer in saddles, harness and buggies and
the proprietor of a business which is at once indicative
of his superior qualifications, his straightforward meth-
ods, his laudable ambition and his indefatigable energy.
Although not a native son, he was brought to this city
when an infant, and his entire career has been spent In
the community in which he now occupies such a high
position among business men. Mr. Mosse was born in
the city of Toronto, Canada, February 20, 1876, and is
a son of W. T. and Maggie Mosse and of Irish and
French descent.

W. T. Mosse was born in Chicago, Illinois; was there
reared to manhood and received an ordinary public
school education. He spent some time in Canada, where
he was married to a native daughter of the Dominion,
but in 1877 came to Denison, Texas, and for a long
period of years was connected as a merchant with the
firm of Mosse & Company. He was an industrious and
hard-working citizen and through a life of integrity and
well-directed effort won success in business and the
esteem of his fellow citizens. His death occurred July
6, 191.3, while the mother still survives and makes her
home in Denison. Five children were born to W. T.
and Jilaggie Mosse, namely: Arthur M., of this review;
Miss Blanche, who is engaged in school teaching ; Charles,
engaged in the blacksmith business in Denison; Eoy, a
clerk in the employ of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas
Eailroad; and Miss Mabel, who is attending the Denison
High School.

Immediately upon completing his education in the
schools of Denison, to which city he had been brought
when a child of one year, Arthur M. Mosse entered upon
his business career in the line in which he is now en-
gaged. He has been the proprietor of his present estab-
lishment for nearly ten years and now occupies a' two-
story building. 2.5x120 ft., at No. 416 West Main street,
where he carries a full line of saddles, harness and bug-
gies and all the appurtenances usual to a business of this
character. He has, through enterprise and straightfor-
ward dealing, built up a retail trade that extends all
over Grayson and the surrounding counties, in addition
to which he does a large wholesale business in saddles,
selling to the retail dealers in the adjoining country.
The excellence of his goods has gained him a widespread
reputation and created a healthy demand for his arti-
cles, and this reputation he continues to steadfastly
maintain. A man of tireless energy, he devotes himself
strictly to his business affairs, and every detail of his
transactions is at his instant command. This devotion
to his affairs has precluded any idea of his entering the
political field actively, although he takes a keen and in-
telligent interest in matters which affect his community
and is at all times ready to aid in promoting and bring-

ing to a successful issue beneficial movements. His sup-
port is given to the democratic party. He has been
prominent fraternally as a member of the Knights of the
Maccabees, of which he is clerk and recorder for the
local order; of the Woodmen of the World, of which he
was council commander for seven years ; of the Woodmen
Circle, and of the American Insurance Union. He is also
a valued member of the Denison Chamber of Commerce.
On June 23, 1898, Mr. Mosse was married at Ladonla,
Texas, to Miss Maude Stout, daughter of John M. Stout,
who was a painter of that place, and seven children
have been born to this union : Alvin, aged fourteen years;
George, aged twelve; Mildred, aged nine; Dorothea,
aged seven; Winston, aged five; Maxine, aged three;
and Arthur M., Jr., the baby, one year old. Mr. Mosse
owns his own home at No. 731 West Elm St.

James C. Hodge, M. D. With the character and at-
tainments of a successful and hard-working physician,
Dr. Hodge is a lifelong resident of Texas, and has
for thirty years practiced medicine at Athens in Hen-
derson county. The early family associations of Dr.
Hodge were with pioneer conditions in this section of
Texas, and his father was one of the most devoted
and able of the early ministers of the Gospel.

Dr. James C. Hodge was born in Henderson county,
October 21, 1852, a son of Rev. Eobert Hodge. Eey.
Hodge was born in Tennessee, moved to Mississippi,
and in 1850 came to Texas. Locating in Anderson
county he spent two years there as an itinerant
preacher. From there he moved to Henderson county,
buying a farm in the Science Hill locality, where at
that time the best schools in the county existed, and
he was a trustee of those schools during the remainder
of his life. His death occurred in 1866 at the age of
sixty-two. His work as a minister and as a citizen
can be only briefly mentioned here. He organized the
First Presbyterian church at Fincastle in Henderson
county, at Concord in Anderson county, and Brushy
Creek in Anderson county, and the first church of

Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 113 of 177)