Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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of Texas and conducted his activities on a large scale.
He is one of the most popular members of the old Cat-
tlemen 's Fraternity, and his name is well known from
the Eio Grande to the Pan Handle. After selling out
his stock and ranch business, in 1910, Mr. Wilson or-
ganized the Marfa State Bank, and has since been its
president and active executive. The bank does a general
banking business and has made a remarkable record in
the three years of its existence, its capitalization having
been increased from $10,000 to $50,000 and all its re-
sources accordingly. Mr. Wilson is also director in the
Murphy-Walker Mercantile Company and the West Texas
Wholesale Grocery Company, both of them being among
the largest enterprises of the kind in Presidio county.

At Alpine, Texas, November 27, 1902, Mr. Wilson mar-
ried Lucy Powe, daughter of Henry Powe of Alpine, the
family having formerly come from Mississippi. The son
and two daughters of their marriage are Nellie May,
Henry Meade and Florence Julia. Mr. Wilson's church
is the Methodist, and his wife is a very active member
in that denomination in Marfa. Fraternally, he is aifili-
ated in Masonry from the Blue Lodge, through the va-
rious degrees of the Scottish Rite, including the thirty-
second, and is also in York Bite Masonry through the
Commandery, and also affiliates with the Mystic Shrine.
He is one of the members of the Marfa Chamber of
Commerce, and as a voter gives his support to the Demo-
cratic party and to every individual and principle which
will promote the best welfare of the state and country.
He has never been active in party affairs, but has been
honored once with the office of county commissioner, and
for a time served as deputy United States marshal. He
takes much pleasure in hunting and in horses, and is a
broad-minded, liberal citizen, whose cordial co-operation
can be enlisted in any undertaking which will strengthen
the prosperity and develop the resources of this section
of the state. As an old resident of west Texas, his opin-
ion as to the resources is based upon full observation.
He calls particular attention to the fact that lands in this
section during the past five years have advanced from
$1.00 to $.5.00 per acre, and at the same time live stock
has increased in value from $14.00 per head to $30.00
per head. In this rapid rise of economic values Marfa
has benefited materially, and has increased in population
and general development more during the last five years
than in the twenty years previously.

Oliver Thomas. Many beautiful words could be
written in commemorating the life of Oliver Thomas,
for his work was successful, he was ever just in his
dealings and he ever maintained the highest standard
•of citizenship. He was called from earthly cares and

Vol. IV— 1 1



trials in March of 1893, but he had so lived and labored
that he left the impress on his community of a success-
ful, progressive and honest man, and a wide circle of
acquaintances will long continue to miss the splendid
personality of Oliver Thomas.

He represented a family who have lived in Dallas
county since pioneer days — prominent farming people — ■
and in the city of Dallas one of the principal residence
streets and one of the most attractive residence addi-
tions have been given the name of this honored family,
a permanent memorial to their name. The late Oliver
Thomas represented the second generation of this family
here, and he was born near Piano, in Dallas county, in
1S55, a son of James and Jane (Eouth) Thomas, who
came to this commonwealth from Tennessee in 1851.
James Thomas became prominent both as a rancher and
later as a merchant of Dallas, and in 1869 he moved
from his farm and erected the home where his widow
now lives on the corner of McKinney and Pearl streets.
It was in that home that James Thomas laid down the
burden of life and passed over to the silent majority,
his death occurring in the year 1875. Of the ' seven
children born of his marriage with Jane Eouth the late
Oliver Thomas was the eldest, the others being as fol-
lows: Mary, who lives with her mother in Dallas;
Ella, deceased; Mattie, wife of John Aiken, of Nevada;.
Jesse D., deceased; William, also deceased; and Colby,
a business man of Lubbock, Texas. Oliver Thomas
spent the days of his boyhood and youth in Dallas
county, receiving in the meantime his preliminary edu-
cational training in the home schools, and he was pre-
paring for a college course when his father's death
occurred. He was a lad of nineteen years when this
sad event threw upon him, as the eldest son, the re-
sponsibility of looking after the family estate, thus
having to forego his college training. At that time the
home now occupied by his mother was a farm of forty
acres, principally devoted to the raising of fruit, and
the son continued its management for a few years, after
which he engaged in business on his own account. About
this time the farm was also platted into town lots and
became known as the Thomas Addition. In order to
dispose of these lots Mr. Thomas engaged in the real
estate business, and later became head of the firm of
Thomas Brothers, dealers in real estate and fire insur-
ance. He continued to be thus identified with the busi-
ness interests of Dallas until the time of his death. He
honored the honored name which he bore by his con-
sistent and meritorious career, and he may be numbered
among those who made Dallas the city it now is.

Oliver Thomas was married in 1883 to Miss Mary
Smith, a daughter of Colby and Mariam (Stevenson)
Smith, of this city, but both now deceased, the father
passing away in 1876 and the mother in 1888. Mr.
Smith owned a small tract of land which is now incor-
porated within the city of Dallas and which is known
as the Excelsior residence district, now almost entirely
built up with fine houses. Four children were born' of
this marriage : Clarence, Willie May, Ina and James
Oliver, all of whom are at home. In his political
affiliations Mr. Thomas was a Democrat, and was serv-
ing as an alderman at the time of his death. He was
an active worker in the Christian church, and for sev-
eral years prior to his demise held therein the office of
deacon. The Thomas home is located at 2500 McKinney
avenue.

James Normand. A prominent stockman who has for
more than thirty years owned and operated a ranch in
Presidio county, Mr. Normand is a Scotchman by birth,
came to this country when a young man, and, after sev-
eral years of experience in the southwest and in old
Mexico, established his headquarters in what is now Pre-
sidio county, and is one of the oldest ranchers who has
been continuously in business down to the present time.

He is closely identified with banking and mercantile en-



1754



TEXAS AND TEXANS



teiprises in Marfa, and fen- among his contemporaries
have enjo.ved such successful prosperity during their ca-
reers as has Mr. Normand. James Normand was born in
Scotland, September 23, 1859, and as a boy attended the
parish schools and then the Fettes College, at Edinburgh,
after which he took a course in the Royal Agricultural
College, at Cirencester, England. "When about nineteen
he began the battle of life for himself, and his first work
was in his father's lineu manufacturing establishment,
where he remained for two years. He then determined to
break away from old home ties and to find a new field of
enterprise in the new world. When about twenty-two
years old he came to the United States, and on coming
over had his mind set upon learning the cattle business.
On arriving in this country, he was engaged in work with
several cattle companies on different ranches in the old
Indian Territory, Kmushs, New Mexico, and Old Mexico.

Finally 1 iii^s;,'(| ilic river at Presidio and moved into

Texas, id I^^l. Ilr brought stock from Mexico and
bought iDiirli li, :nl^|ii;iiters located twenty-six miles from
Marfa. I'ln- i:ni< h, which has been in his possession for
more tlian iliiity yr.ir~i, was the foundation of his present
excellent |M..s|H'nty, and in that vicinity he has gathered
his herds alMint him and has pursued the operations of
cattle raising down to the present time.

At Edinburgh. Scotland, in August, 1895, Mr. Normand
married Eleanor Mildred Dodds, daughter of Dr. George
Dodds of Edinburgh. Mr. Normand has no special afiili-
ations in church membership, but is a member of the
Blue Lodge and Chapter of Masonry, belongs to the
Marfa Commercial Club, and in politics votes independ-
ently and for the best man and for good government.
Some years ago he was honored with the office of county
commissioner of Presidio county. Mr. Normand is vice
president of the Marfa State Bank, is president of the
Murphy-Walker r',,in|iaii\ , president of the West Texas
Wholesale Gro.nx ■ Miii|i':niv. and President of the Marfa
& Mariposa Minini: i niii|i my. He owns an automobile
and takes nunli nf his pli.isiire with his machine, while
he also enjoys a fishing and hunting excursion. He is a
firm believer in the resources and the possibilities of
west Texas, where he himself has gained his general pros-
perity, and he feels that the same opportunities are ex-
tended to every one else as afforded him such abundance
of the world's goods and the esteem of his fellow citizens.

Eakl a. Eoasberky, M. D. With a splendid record as
a physician, surgeon, and citizen, Dr. Eoasberry is one of
the residents of "Van Horn whose presence here is due
to the fact that a few years ago he suffered ill health and
a weakened constitution in the middle western states and
came here to recuperate. His i)eriod of recuperation
was extended into permanent residence, and the com-
munit.v now has no more loyal citizen than Dr. Roasberrv.

Earl A. Eoasberrv was born .Tannary 2. 1S83, at Mans-
field, Ohio, the son "of Dr. William H.' and Martha (Au)
Eoasberry, both natives of Ohio. The father has been
actively engaged in the profession of medicine in Ashland,
Ohio, for the past thirty years. He is also a prominent
Democrat at that point. The mother died in 1904, and
she now rests at Mansfield. The doctor was the first of
their children, and the others are ^Maurice E.. who is en-
gaged in the practice of iiicdiiiiio ;it New London, Ohio;
Eunice L., who is a gradiKitr iiursi- and now in the Hiiron
Eoad Hosjiital. at ri,.\ rliui,!. olii^-. and Leota, also a

nurse and at ll:r .:fr, !.■-:■, ':ii ■■ ''I I'.T -i^l.T.

Earl A. i;^,!- . , . i ■ I in literary

schools, :nhl :if:i ■.! : ■• :i i i ' i j ;ii the Cleve-
land Mc.li.Ml Cnllr^,', uliriv lir »:,- .iiMlliat.M with the

class of 190(1. He had urai-tiral experience as an interne
in the Huron Eoad Hospital, at Cleveland, and he
then engaged in private practice at New London. Then,
owing to poor health, he gave up his practice there and
came to western Texas, locating at Van Horn in the fall
of 1910. The doctor is a member of the El Paso County
Medical Society and of the Ohio State Jledical Societv,



and fraternally is afliliated with the Independent Order
of Odd Fellows. He has an attractive home at Van
Horn, and he and his wife are valuable members of
local society.

On December 20, 1907, Dr. Eoasberry married Miss
Mary Donnely of Ohio, daughter of William E. and Ella
(Ford) Donnely, natives of Ohio and prominent citizens
and farming people of that state, her father having been
very active in Eepublican politics. Three children were
born to the doctor and wife, one of them being deceased
and the other two being Martha E. and Marjory. Dr.
Eoasberry foresees a great future for this section of
Texas, owing to its mineral resources and the cheap price
of its lands. Since coming to west Texas he has found
opportunity to exercise his taste as a sportsman and
spends a large part of his leisure time in hunting excur-
sions. He and his wife both worship at the Presbyterian
church. A progressive physician, and always seeking to
keep his capabilities apace with the achievements of the
profession. Dr. Eoasberry during 1913 attended post-
graduate studies in New York city.

William P. Mdepht. The Murphy-Walker general de-
partment store and the West Texas Wholesale Grocery
Company are two solid business enterprises of Marfa
which have a proper history of their own and which illus-
trates the inireasing prosperity of Jlarfa as a commer-
cial center and the career of one of its foremost citizens.

Thirty years ago, in 1883, when William P. Murphy
first came to Marfa and attained a place as a clerk in a
business of which he is now manager, the establishment
was conducted under the firm name of S. F. Wiles &
Company. The company part of this firm subsequently
bought out Mr. S. F. Wiles and changed the firm name
to Humphries, Murphy & Company, and subsequently to
Humphries & Company, and then, in 1901, the business
took its present title of Mnrphy-Walker Company. This
is a very extensive establishment and carries a full line
of everything found in a first-class department store and
all the supplies used on the ranch and the other special
requirements of west Texas life. The management of
the business is perfect, each department having a head
of its own and being conducted as a separate part of
the system, both in accounting and in general detail.
The business occupies a floor space of more than ten
thousand feet, and the regular retail store is a large col-
lection of related buildings, including a garage for auto-
mobiles, barns, stables, yards, wagons, coal storage plant,
etc. The Wholesale Grocery business is conducted en-
tirely separate from the other concern, and its trade
throughout all the towns in west Texas has made this
one of the central commercial institutions of Marfa and
of great value to the growing city.

William P. Murphy, who now for the past ten years
has been the genius of these important firms, was born
at Bath, Maine, April 15, 1866. His parents were James
K. and Mary Jane Murphy. When he was two years old
the famil,y went to Havre, France, where they remained
until he was about nine years of age, and while there
he received the portion of his education in private
schools. On the return of the family to Bath, Maine,
where he lived until seventeen years of age, he continued
in the public schools, and also the high school, and on
leaving school at Bath began the battle of life for
himself. He was thus seventeen years of age when he
first came to Marfa, in 18S3, and took a position as a
clerk in the old house of S. F. Wiles & Company. He re-
mained here for about four and a half years, at the end
of which time he resigned and went to El Paso, where
he spent a year and a half. He was engaged in railroad-
ing for some time, and finally drifted to San Francisco,
where during a residence of more than three years he
was employed in a wholesale mercantile establishment,
and thus gained the most thorough and practical portion
of his equipment for his subseauent career. He was con-
nected with a wholesale business in New York City for a



TEXAS AND TEXANS



1755



few years, and then, in 190:2, returned to the city which
had first been the object of his affections in Texas and
tools charge of the business with which his name and
management are now associated in such imjjortant re-
lations.

Mr. Murphy was married in Brooklyn, New York, to
Miss Floreuce McDonald, daughter of James McDonald
of Brooklyn. Jlrs. Murphy is a member of the Catholic
church, but he has no special church affiliations. He is a
Mason, in both the Lodge and Chapter, and a member of
the Woodmen of the World. A Eepublieau in politics, he
takes only the part of the voter and good citizen. He is
also a member of the Marfa Commercial Club, and as an
avocation he is especially fond of baseball, being a real
fan. He also enjoys good horses, and his tastes likewise
run to good books and intellectual entertainment of every
kind. Though an adopted resident of Texas, the state
has no more loyal nor more enthusiastic citizen than Mr.
Murphy, who considers Texas. the grandest state of the
Union, offering more and better opportunities for men
with limited means and with sturdy ambitions and ener-
gies than any other part of the world.

Fred P. Gibson. In the recent development of the
business and general resources of Van Horn and Culber-
son counties no individual has taken a more active and
influential part than Fred P. Gibson who, after a
long period of service as a telegraph operator and sta-
tion agent at different points on the Texas and Pacific,
came to Van Horn in 1908 on account of failing health.
During the subsequent five years he has not only made a
successful position for himself, but has contributed much
to the development of his home community. In all this
prosperity Mr. Gibson would never omit a large share of
credit to his capable wife, who has been his loyal assistant
in their mutual work of creating a home and fine prop-
erty which now represents their joint enterprise.

Fred P. Gibson was born August 17, 1880, a son of
William W. and Kate M. (Lewis) Gibson, natives, re-
spectively, of Mississippi and Tennessee. The parents
have for many years been residents of Van Zandt county,
Texas, where Mr. Gibson was born, in the town of Wills
Point. The senior Gibson is now a resident of Grand
Saline, where he is engaged in the land and insurance
business. In earlier years he was in the cotton business
at Galveston, but in 1875, owing to an outbreak of yel-
low fever, he left that coast city and began the prac-
tice of his profession as civil engineer at Wills Point.
William W. CJibson made a brilliant record as a Confed-
erate soldier, and his service in the armies of the south
deserves special mention in this article. There were four
children in the family, the others being named as fol-
lows: Walter, who has for twenty years been agent for
the Texas and Pacific Eailway at Grand Saline; Flor-
ence, who is associated with her father in the insurance
business, and Williard, who is in the general offices of
the Texas & Pacific Railroad at Fort Worth.

Mr. Fred P. Gibson received his education in the public
schools of Wills Point, leaving school at the age of sev-
enteen and learning telegraphy. He was an operator in
the general offices of the Texas & Pacific at Dallas and
other large points. He then became station agent on the
same line at Gladewater and at Atlanta, and continued
in that work for six years, until failing health compelled
him to move in to the 'extreme west of Texas, so that in
1908 he became agent for the Texas & Pacific at Van
Horn. On resigning this office, in 1910, he became a
partner in the Beach Mercantile Company, and about the
same time acquired ownership of some five thousand acres
of land in Culberson county. These lands were located
thirty miles from Van Horn. Probably the most inter-
esting feature in his career is the fact that while he
continued his work as station agent at Van Horn his
young wife was living on this large body of land alone,
her experience entitling her to special mention as one of
the hardy and courageous women of western Texas. It



was as a result of these hard labors and self-denials that
they laid the corner stone of their success. After selling
out his ranch lands at good advantage, Mr. Gibson
bought au interest in the firm of Beach & Piatt Mercan-
tile Company, buying Mr. Piatt's interests, and subse-
quently otheis, until he acquired a third interest in one
of the largest, oldest, and most practical stores in Van
Horn. Mr. Gibson now owns property in Waco and has
one of the most attractive homes of Van Horn.

At Dallas in 1905 he married Miss Alma L. Hunter, a
native of Wills Point and a daughter of William K.
Hunter. Their two children are named Freda, aged six,
and Kuth, aged three. When Mr. Gibson came to Van
Horn, in 1908, there was little or nothing in the way of
entertainment or social life at this point. Since then ha
has taken a foremost part in organizing many of the
wholesome features of social diversion as well as the
more valuable institutions of education. Through his
efforts and those of Mr. Beach, his partner, was organized
the Masonic Lodge, known as Van Horn, No. 1208, A. F.
& A. M., Mr. Gibson having become a master mason
when twenty-one years of age. He is also prominent in
the local Baptist church, being a deacon of the society.
He is a member of the Van Horn school board and takes
much pride in the general claims that this is one of the
best schools in the state. Mr. Gibson is now devoting
his spare time to the study of law, not with the purpose
of entering the profession, but on the theory that every
up-to-date business man should be informed on the fun-
damentals of law. In Mr. Gibson's opinion, Culberson
county is best adapted to stock raising; but he calls at-
tention to the presence in this locality of splendid min-
eral resources, consisting of copper, silver, lead, zinc, and
mica, none of which resources have yet been developed,
and, as a public-spirited citizen, he will gladly co-operate
with any parties interested in such a field for industrial
enterprise.

Erskine Long. From the early seventies until his
death, March 27, 1909, the late Erskine Long was one
of the most extensive and best known farmers of Cooke
county, and he had peculiar success in his vocation. He
was a Confederate veteran and a man who bore his civic
and private responsibilities with the same fidelity he
displayed as a soldier.

Erskine Long was born in the state of Missouri in
1844, a son of John Pope and Elizabeth (Story) Long,
the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Mis-
souri. John P. Long was also a farmer, and in early
life studied medicine, although he never practiced that
profession.

The late Erskine Long, the only child of his parents,
grew up in his native state, and on his grandfather's
farm until he was fifteen years old, or until his ,grand-
father's death. In the meantime he had received some
advantages in the public schools there and had learned
the lessons of industry under his father. When the
Civil war cam"e on, he joined the Confederate army as
a private, and went through from beginning to end.
Following the struggle belween the states, he resided
with an uncle in Missouri and spent two years working
at wages on his farm. For some time after that he
traveled about the country and had varied experiences.
Then in 1871 Mr. Long married Miss Molly Black,
who was born in Cooke county, Texas, a daughter of
John D. and Ann (Duty) Black, her father a native of
North Carolina and her mother of Arkansas. Mrs.
Long was one of two children, though her mother was
married four times. Her brother is William Black,
deoeospd, who was a farmer and left three children.
The ciulif rliiMien born to Mr. and Mrs. Long are
mpmioiicM .(^ lullows: Bettie, wife of William Murrell,
of l-'int Woiih, and the mother of three children; Sallie,
who is a teacher by profession and resides at home in
Gainesville; Lolo, who is the wife of H. B. Murrell, of
Walnut Bend, and the mother of three chUdren; Molly,



1756



TEXAS AND TEXANS



who married S. F. Murrell of Walnut Bend; Edna, wife
of F. C. Gillock, of Oklahoma; Lutie, Erskine, and
Alice, who are all unmarried and living at home with
their mother.

After the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Long they
located in Cooke county, and lived on a farm until his
death. His estate comprised nine hundred and sixty
acres of land, six hundred acres of tvliich was in culti-
vation to corn and crop. This large farm since the
death of Mr. Long has been leased to tenant farmers.
Mr. Long was a Democrat, but not a politician, and
never sought office. He and his family worship in the
Christian church. Mrs. Long, who is well known in
social circles at Gainesville, resides at 108 Hichie street.

Elton E. Silliman. Cashier and active manager of
the Van Horn State Bank, Mr. Silliman has since 1909
been closely identified with the general commercial en-
terprise of Culberson county. The successful position of
the bank has been largely due to his personality and abil-
ity as a financial organizer and manager, and, besides
looking after this institution, Mr. Silliman is also owner
of considerable property in this section, and is always
ready to lend his influence to promote the further up-
building and development of this section of Texas.

Elton E. Silliman was born on August 17, 1872, at the
old capital of Texas when it was the province of Mex-
ico, at San Felipe, in Austin county. His parents were
Abram F. and Samantha (Dresser) Silliman, natives,



Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 52 of 177)