Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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more important responsibility to the financial and larger
interests of this section of the state than Judge Brooks,
president of the Producers Oil Company. Judge Brooks
is first of all a lawyer, and for many years was prominent
in the profession. He has had much experience in public
affairs, and for a number of years has been one of the
leading factors in the oil development of southeastern
Texas.

Judge Brooks represents one of the most historic
families of Texas. His mother, Elizabeth (Burleson)
Brooks, who is now living in her seventy-seventh year, was
an infant during the period of hostilities which freed
Texas from the domination of Mexico, and during the
invasion of Texas by Santa Anna she was carried by her
mother to a place of safety. She was the youngest
daughter of James Burleson, whose name will always

Vol. IV-4



have a distinguished place in Texas annals. James
Burleson came to Texas in 1831, settling in Bastrop
county, and taking an active part in the pioneer life of
the province and the subsequent Republic of Texas. The
most noted member of the family and the brother of Mrs.
Brooks was General Edward Burleson, who during the
siege of San Antonio in 1835 succeeded Stephen F. Austin
as commander in chief of the Texas troops. The father
of Judge Brooks was Charles Wesley Brooks, who was
born in Alabama and came to Texas in 1854 from that
state. He brought to Texas the negro slaves of Judge
Dick Townes, and after establishing a farm for Judge
Townes in Bastrop county, and after the arrival of the
Townes family in that locality, he engaged in farming
for himself, and was one of the prosperous and successful
men of his community up to his death in 1869.

Richard Edward Brooks was born in Bastrop county
August 2, 1864. His family being among the more pros-
perous people of Texas, he was liberally educated, com-
pleting his schooling at the Southwestern University in
Georgetown, and then read law in the office of Judge
John C. Townes. Admitted to the bar in 1885, he at
once began practice at Georgetown, at first in partner-
ship with Juilge Rolicrt John and subsequently with
Judge Cochran. In 189."i Governor Culberson appointed
him to serve out the unexpired term as judge of the
Twenty-Sixth Juiliei;il District, comprising the counties
of Travis and Williamson. He was subsequently elected
twice to this office and continued as district judge until
1901, in which year he resigned. He then moved to
Houston, where he turned his attention to the oil busi-
ness in connection with the Hogg-Swayne Syndicate. He
later was one of the organizers of the Texas Fuel Com-
pany, and this later became the Texas Company, one of
the greatest oil companies in the country. Judge Brooks
was treasurer of the Texas Company until January 1,
1913, at which time he resigned in order to take the
office of president with the Producers Oil Company of
Texas.

Judge Brooks was president of the Southern Trust
Company at Houston until his resignation on January 1,
1913, but is stiU a member of the board of directors of
the trust company. He is a director of the Bankers
Trust Company of Houston, a director of the Union
National Bank of Houston, president of the Roywood
Canal & Milling Company, director of the Houston Land
Corporation, vice president of the Texas Wagon Com-
pany and vice president of the J. W. Carter Music
Company. These last and important associations and his
striking individual ability makes Judge Brooks one of
the foremost men in financial and business life of
Houston.

Fraternally, Judge Brooks is a Knights Templar Mason
and a member of the Mystic Shrine, and also is affiliated
with the Knights of Pythias. He belongs to the Houston
Country Club. On November 28, 1889, he married Miss
Frances Booty, daughter of the late J. H. Booty of
Georgetown, Texas, one of the prominent merchants of
that city. They are the parents of three children —
Richard Emory, Clarence Booty and Frances Edwina
Brooks. The Brooks residence in Houston is at 2616
Travis Street.

John S. Eeid. A merchant of Pecan Gap, in Delta
county, and the leading factor in local commercial affairs,
Mr. Reid has been a resident of Texas since 1878. He
was one of the successful teachers in this portion of the
State for a number of years, endeavored to take up
farming, but found his abilities not adapted to that
vocation, and established himself in mercantile business
and has found a generous success.

John S. Reid was born in Norfolk, Virginia, July 13,
1845, was educated in a military academy and in the
Christiansburg Academy, and was well trained and
equipped for the occupation of teacher, which he followed
for many years. He was hardly sixteen years of age



1642



TEXAS AND TEXANS



when the Civil wir broke out, and as his family and
friends were all partisans of the South, he himself was
eager to enlist as soon as opportunity offered. He went
into Company D of Richardson 's Battalion of Light Ar-
tillery and went through the war in the Army of North-
ern Virginia. His baptism of fire occurred at Sewell's
Point in Norfolk, on the memorable day when the battle
between the Merrimac and the ^lonitor was fought in
Hampton roads, and his battery of artillery defended
Captain Buchanan's command when it sought shelter at
Sewell's Point after the disabling of the Merrimac and
the wounding of Captain Buchanan. This introduction
to actual warfare was so terrible and so abrupt that
young Eeid was at once stricken with homesickness and
wanted nothing so much as to be once more a student
in school in the presence of his father. But he was
quickly admonished that since he had gotten himself into
the predicament he must make the best of it, and his
father appealed to his son to become a good soldier and
remain steadfast to the end of the contest. Following
that duel of the two naval corps off Portsmouth, Mr.
Eeid's command took part in the historic engagements
of Seven Pines, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Win-
chester, Gettysburg, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and in
the defense of the crater at Petersburg, after the Fed-
erals had exploded their mine in the attempt to capture
the fort. Mr. Eeid was wounded at the crater, receiving
injuries in the shoulder and in the leg and as he fell a
piece of shell struck him on the head. Nevertheless,
after a ninety-day furlough among relatives in Eich-
niond he returned to his command and continued with the
army to Appomattox. His battery was captured at
Petersliurg, with the exception of a small squad, includ-
ing himself, who cut their way out, so that he was thus
enabled to witness the closing drama of the war.

Though the interesting incidents of his early life have
caused their recital to be given in these first paragraphs,
the story must now be interrupted in order to consider
the family of Mr. Eeid. His father was George Eeid,
and his grandfather was also George Eeid, both of
whom were natives of Scotland. The grandfather settled
at Norfolk, Virginia, about 1798. His death occurred in
1894 at the age of ninety-eight years. The maiden name
of his wife was Elizabeth Taylor, of Farfar, Scotland.
She also attained an advanced age, dying at the age of
eighty-seven. Of their children, Charles died in Nor-
folk in January, 1901, when within a few months of
the age of one hundred years, having been a successful
merchant engaged in the export and import trade, and
one of the venerable citizens of Norfolk; Crawford mar-
ried John Haskell of Baltimore, Maryland; William
died in Norfolk in 1857, leaving a family; Eobert passed
away, also leaving a family, and Andrew died in Balti-
more, where he had been a successful importer, and
where he had reared his family.

George Eeid, Jr., was born in Edinburgh, Scotland,
during a visit of his parents to their native city in 1811.
He received his education after the fashion of the old
school Presbyterian faith and doctrine, and when he
arrived at his majority he was excellently equipped in
mind and moral and business character. He was brought
up in his father's merchandising activities, and later
succeeded to the wholesale grocery busiuesp, which had
been conducted by his father, and for a number of years
this business was carried on under the name of Charles
and George Eeid. At the opening of the Civil war he
gave up the business and moved to Eichmond. His
principal activities during the war times were in block-
ade running. He employed a number of men and ships
in breaking through the lines of the Federal fleet and
in transporting and handling goods and wares which could
thus escape the vigilance of the blockade. After the
return of peace he engaged in the grain business in
Norfolk until his death in 1889. As to the issues which
divided the country previous to and at the time of the
war, his attitude favored the preservation of the Union



at all costs, but when his State cast its lot with the
South, he used his means and his influence liberally in
promoting the southern cause, and sent two of his sons
into the Confederate army. In the latter years of the
war, while General Ben Butler had his headquarters in
Norfolk, Mr. Eeid was summoned into the General 's
presence and asked concerning some alleged utterance of
treasonable remarks. He at once admitted the substance
of the charge, and was then given a pass by the general
in order that he might leave the city for his personal
safety. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1857 George
Eeid was designated from among the ranks of business
men in Norfolk to take a prominent part in relief work,
and did so throughout the period of the scourge. His
nobility of character, his active sympathy, and his ready
devotion to the welfare of humanity were vital character-
istics, actuating him every day of his life, and he lived
a life of righteousness and well doing which reflected
the highest principles and virtues of his Presbyterian
ancestry.

George Eeid married Eobina Spence, a daughter of
John Spence of Edinburgh, Scotland. She had come to
America on a visit and whUe here met and married Mr.
Eeid. Her mother was a Wallace, a descendant of Sir
William Wallace, one of the most noted characters in
Scotch history. Eobina Spence was born in 1S16 and her
death occurred before the war. Her brother William
Wallace Spence was a prominent Baltimore merchant and
banker, being president of the Maryland Trust Com-
pany; her brother John lived in London, England, and a
sister was the wife of a London merchant. The follow-
ing children comprise the family of George and Eobina
Eeid; John S., of Pecan Gap, Texas; Maggie, widow of
J. T. S. Eeid of Norfolk, Virginia; Eichard, who died
at Baltimore, leaving a family, and who had served as
a soldier of Moseby "s Cavalry during the war ; and
Charles, who is a professional accountant, but who has
all his life been a rambler over the face of the earth.

Now returning to the career of Mr. John S. Eeid, after
the Civil war, he took up work as clerk for J. C. B.
Bridges & Co. of Baltimore, a sugar and coffee house.
After three years he returned to Norfolk and engaged
in the brokerage business as a member of the firm of
Smith and Eeid. Then in 1872 he started westward for
new experiences which eventually brought him to Texas.
His first stop was in Corinth, Mississippi, where he was
induced to take a place as teacher in tlie public schools.
Six years were spent in that way, and while there he was
married. Then in 1878 he cam'e to Texas. For a time
in the community of Ben Franklin he taught school, was
also a teacher in Giles Academy, and finally abandoned
the activities of the school room "in 1892. He then turned
his attention to farming, but it is noteworthy that he
proved so incompetent that after three years he had lived
up to all his means except his land, and was then obliged
to seek some other more remunerative occupation. He
then opened a grocery store at Pecan Gap and entered
a business more nearly to his liking and abilities. From
a stock of groceries he expanded his enterprise to in-
clude a general merchandise stock, and later took in his
son as partner, until now the firm of John S. Eeid & Son
is easily the largest mercantile house of Pecan Gap.

In October, 1S77. Mr. Eeid married Miss Nancy Carter,
a daughter of John Carter, the maiden name of her
mother being Lumley. In the Carter family were the
following children: Thomas; Nancy; Mary, who mar-
ried Kirby Mask; James; and John. Mr. and Mrs. Eeid
are the parents of the following children: Grace, who
married B. W. Yeager, of Spiro, Oklahoma, and they
are the parents of five children ; Maggie, the wife of
G. O. Shettles, of Pecan Gap, and they have two chil-
dren; Lutie, wife of O. L. Scott, a merchant of Pecan
Gap, and they have a family of two children ; George, a
partner of his father, and who married Miss Cornelia
Morgan; Bessie, married L. H. West, a member of the
Eeid Mercantile Company and they are the parents of



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1643



two cliildren; W. W. S., the junior member of the Reid
firm, who married Miss Mattie H. Yeager, and they have
two children; and Andrew J., who is associated in busi-
ness with his father and who married Miss Mollie Mae
Sandlin. They have one child, John S., Jr. Mr. Eeid
brought up his family in the Presbyterian church, is a
member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and
politically and in civic affairs is liberal and broadminded,
and usually supports the Democratic party.

Sinclair Taliaferro. A member of the Texas bar
since 1875, Mr. Taliaferro has during nearly forty years
filled in his career with many activities and achievements
as an able lawyer. He is now head of the firm of Talia-
ferro & Taliaferro, attorneys, in the First National Bank
Building at Houston.

Sinclair Taliaferro was born in Gloucester county, Vir-
ginia, December 23, 1852. In Virginia and Georgia and
elsewhere in the south, few names are better known and
accompanied with more distinction than that of Talia-
ferro. The Taliaferros originally settled in the old
colony of Virginia about 1662, and from that state its
members have spread into various parts of the union.
The parents of the Houston lawyer were Thomas Booth
and Mary Munford (Sinclair) Taliaferro. The father
was a Virginia planter, and subsequently engaged in
merchandising in that state.

Sinclair Taliaferro was educated in an old log school
house in Gloucester county. The old home was in close
proximity to the scenes of many hard-fought battles of
the Civil war, and normal existence in such times was an
impossibility. He was eighteen years of age when he
came to Texas in 1870, locating first in Grimes county,
where he remained until 1S74. In the latter year, coming
to Houston, he took up the reading of law in the ofiice
of Captain Joseph C. Hutcheson, one of the eminent
members of the Houston bar. He continued his studies
with energy and success, and in April, 1875, was admitted
to the bar and at once began active practice. In point
of years in continuous practice in one community Mr.
Taliaferro now ranks as third oldest of Houston attor-
neys. He served as city attornev of Houston from 1883
to 1885. In February, 1895, Mr. Taliaferro was ap-
pointed by President Grover Cleveland as United States
attorney for the eastern district of Texas, and he held
that office until February, 1899. Mr. Taliaferro has
never been a seeker for political honors and emoluments,
but at the same time is interested in political affairs, and
has been a worker in every Democratic campaign since
1872.

Though not a politician, Mr. Taliaferro is not ignorant
of politics. Political economy, particularly that branch
of political economy which deals with the administration
of municipalities and states, has been his pet study for
years. He will be remembered in Houston as one of the
first agitators for the commission form of government.
He was visiting a great department store in Nashville
one summer, and the administrative features of the insti-
tution appealed to him. He saw how, on the commission
plan, the same system could be applied to city govern-
ment, and how under such a regime a remarkable increase
in efficiency could not but result. In a letter written
to the Houston Post Mr. Taliaferro outlined his views
of the commission form of government, and the publica-
tion of that letter started a pressure for a change that
eventually gave Houston the present city charter and
the present opportunity for civic greatness. To the city
of Houston there is no more important enterprise, nor one
fraught with greater benefit to the city than the Houston
ship channel. A number of local citi?ens have taken an
active part in the improvement and development of the
channel from Houston into Galveston Bay, and one of
the leaders for many years has been Mr. Taliaferro.
Since 1883 he has given much time and attention to the
work, and few, in any, men will deserve so much credit
for the final successful outcome of the enterprise as Mr.



Taliaferro. It is now a certainty that the large ocean-
going vessels will have easy access to and from Houston
by the ship canal by June, 1915, and to no one will the
sight of an oceangoing vessel in the Houston Harbor
be more gratifying than to Mr. Taliaferro.

In 1882 Mr. Taliaferro married Miss Eosalie Heath
Palmer, who was born in Houston, daughter of Judge
Edward A. Palmer of Houston, her father having located
in Texas in 1844. The two children of Mr. and Mrs.
Taliaferro are Thomas Sinclair Taliaferro, who is a part-
ner with his father in the practice of law, and Bettie
Milby, wife of William A. Sherman, vice president of
the South Texas Cotton Oil Company of Houston. The
Taliaferro home is at 1218 Walker Street.

James V. Meek. Among those who have lent honor to
the legal profession in the State of Texas, a place must
be accorded to James V. Meek, whose identity with Hous-
ton dates back to 1895, and who maintains offices in the
Prince Theatre Building.

Mr. Meek was born at Warsaw, Alabama, November 29,
1863, son of James T. and Mary C. (Weston) Meek.
James T. Meek was educated with the practice of law in
view, and was a graduate of a law school, but he never
identified himself with the profession. Instead, he en-
gaged in merchandising in Alabama, and was thus occu-
pied when the Civil war broke out. A Southern man and
with the interests of the Southern cause at heart, he was
among the first to enlist his sers-ices in the conflict, and
he remained in the field until the surrender. He organ-
ized the Alabama Eifles, from which he was subsequently
transferred to the Thirty-sixth Alabama Eegiment as
captain of Company A. At the time of Lee and John-
ston 's surrender he was with his command, fighting in the
vicinity of Mobile. His death occurred in 1866. The
mother of James V. Meek was a daughter of Elizabeth
(Geiger) Weston, a descendant of the Geigers of Eevo-
lutionary fame. She died in September, 1912.

James V. Meek was reared and educated in hia native
state to the age of nineteen years, his advanced studies
having been pursued at Howard College, Marion. In 1882
he came to Texas and took. up his residence at Richmond,
Fort Bend county, where, while otherwise occupied, he
had in view the profession of law. In 1884 and 1885 he
was a student in the law department of the University
of Texas, and following which he was admitted to the bar
by the district judge of Fort Bend county, and at once
began practice at Eichmond. At Eichmond he was jus-
tice of the peace, and later county attorney, and he
continued his residence there until November, 1SS9, when
he moved to Paris, Texas. At the latter place he rep-
resented the Santa Fe Railroad Company as counsel. In
May, 1890, he moved to Carson county, and in August,
that same year, to Claudia, Armstrong county, where he
remained two years, during which time he served as
county judge having been elected to the office in Novem-
ber, three months after his settlement there. In the
latter part of 1892 Judge Meek formed a partnership
with Temple Houston, youngest sou of General Sam
Houston, under the firm name of Houston & Meek, and
they moved to Fort Worth, where they were associated
in a law practice for about three years. At the end of
that time Judge Meek moved to Hartley county, where,
however, he remained only a short time, and from whence
he came, in 1895, to Houston. This city has since been
his home, and during the nearly twenty years of his
practice here has had several law "partners, men of stand-
ing in the profession and sterling worth as citizens. He
has practiced successively under the firm names of Meek
& Taylor. Baldwin & Meek. Meek & Sam and Meek &
Highsmith, and since February. 1912, he has conducted
practice under his own name. While Mr. Meek has never
been an office seeker, he filled the office thrust upon him
in a manner that reflected credit upon himself. Through-
out his practice he has maintained high standards and
has lent a dignity to his chosen profession. Among the



1644



TEXAS AND TEXANS



fraternal organizations which claim him as a worthy
member are the F. and A. M., K. of P., B. P. O. E.,
Eagles and Turn Verein.

In November, 1889, Mr. Meek married Miss Rosalie
Carlton, daughter of James E. and Melissa (Taylor)
Carlton of Columbus, Texas, and they have four children:
Weston, Hennie, Eosalie and Mildred. He and his family
reside at 3704 Garrott street, West Moreland, Houston.

Arthur P. Yarbrough. In Arthur P. Yarbrough the
Byers Herald has found a publisher and owner who makes
the most of the possibilities offered by such a plant, and
since he bought the establishment early in 1913 it has
made considerable progress of a pleasing order. The
policy of the paper is one that is designed to boost Texas
in general and Byers in particular, and the spirit of the
publication is one that is altogether praiseworthy and
at the same time productive of excellent results. Mr.
Yarbrough has been a resident of Texas only since 1895,
but in the years of his identification with the state he
has become thoroughly imbue<l with the spirit of the
great southwestern commonwealth, and he has as great a
pride in the state and in his particular community as
has any native born Texan.

Born in Talapoosa county, Alabama, on December 7,
1873, Arthur P. Yarbrough'is the son of Thomas J. and
Mary A. Yarbrough, and to them were born eleven chil-
dren, of which number Mr. Yarbrough of this brief
review is the oldest.

Mr. Yarbrough gained his early education in the public
schools of Alabama, and remained at home on the home
farm until he was twenty-one years of age. Arrived at
his majority, he felt himself privileged to try his wings
in the business of life, and his first move was to attend
the Agricultural College at Albertville, in East Alabama,
for a year. In order to do that the young man found it
necessary to occupy himself at any employment he might
find, for he worked his own way through, and after
finishing his studies here he taught school for two terms
in his native state and then came to Texas. He first
settled in Eice, Navarro county, where he continued for
about a year, during which .time he was occupied in
ginning, and he then went to Hunt county and remained
until 1909. During the years passed there he attended
college at the East Texas Normal College, and taught
school for some time, after which he went to Dallas
and was employed in a clerical capacity with the Texas
Pacific Eailroad in their general offices. , In 1910 he came
to Byers and engaged in real estate and insurance activi-
ties, but soon gave up the work to become the publisher
of the Byers Herald, which paper he bought outright,
and has since been editor, proprietor and publisher. The
paper circulates in Texas and Oklahoma, with a scattered
circulation in certain other states, and is making excel-
lent progress under Mr. Yarbrough 's management.

No more active worker for the best interests of the
town is to be found than Mr. Yarbrough. He is a mem-
ber of the Byers Commercial Club, and his fraternal
affiliations are with the Masons (Blue Lodge and Chap-
ter) and the Woodmen of the World. He has long been
the advocate of the teaching of scientific farming in the
schools, and while in Alabama he was the first to organ-
ize the Farmers ' Co-operative Educational Association
in that state. As a teacher he recognized the need for
adequate instruction in the business of farming among
the youth of the land, and did much to create a feeling
in favor of the furtherance of that branch of education.



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 16 of 177)