Francis White Johnson.

A history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) online

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prominent buildings that the firm has erected in El

Paso may be mentioned the Mills building, which cost
three hundred thousand dollars; the Paso Del Norte
hotel, erected at a cost of half a million dollars; the
new Masonic Temple, which was completed in 1913 and
cost one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, and
many others of less importance. Mr. Trost at the same
time has done a large business in New Mexico, Colorado
and Ari2ona, and his firm has practically a monopoly
on all classes of the finer and costlier building con-
struction in the State of Arizona and other parts of the
southwest. While he has been devoted to his profession
in its practical aspects, Mr. Trost has always been a
student, and has never allowed himself to lag behind
in his professional attainments. A part of nearly every
year is spent in the east, where he enjoys association
with the best known architects of America, and where
he has opportunity to learn all that is new and note-
worthy in his field. Mr. Trost owns one of the beautiful
homes of El Paso, and has other valuable property in
the city. In politics he is a member of the Progressive
party and enthusiastic in its support.

Boss Shaw Steeling. A thorough Texan, whose
ancestors were prominently identified with the early
struggles of this now thriving commonwealth in the
days before the existence of the Eepublic, Eoss Shaw
Sterling is one who by his own efforts has become an
active and substantial citizen of, the state, and whose
commercial and financial interests are large and exten-
sive. He has always been a leader in the development
of southeastern Texas, and much of the credit for the
advanced conditions in these parts today is due in gen-
erous measure to Mr. Sterling, who has regarded the
fortunes of the state as identical with his own at all
times and has conducted himself in accordance with that
idea. His connection with the E. S. Sterling Company,
wholesale and retail dealers in grain and feed, is but
one of the places where he is found to be officially promi-
nent and active, a full list of his business connections
being given at a later point in this brief sketch.

Born in Anahuac, Chambers county, Texas, on Feb-
ruary 11, 1875, Eoss Shaw Sterling is the son of Capt.
Benjamin F. and Mary Jane (Bryan) Sterling. The
father was born in Monticello, Mississippi, where he
followed the trade of a cabinet maker, until he came to
Texas in 1849, where he settled in what is now Cham-
bers county and there engaged in farming. During
the war between the states he served as a captain in
Wahl 's Texas Legion. Of Scotch ancestry, Mr. Sterl-
ing 's American progenitors came to America in the
days prior to the Eevolution, and men of that name
and family were prominent in Scottish history for
many generations, as all will affirm who are in any wise
conversant with Scottish history. The mother was born
at Liberty, Texas. She came of Irish ancestry, her an-
cestors having come from Ireland to the United States
when the United States was in her infancy. The fam-
ily settled in North Carolina, and came to Texas in
about 1830, locating in Liberty. During the Texas
revolution they were prominent in the upheaval, and
Luke Bryan, an uncle of Mrs. Sterling, was a partici-
pant in the battle of San Jacinto.

Eoss Shaw Sterling was educated in the common
schools of Anahuac to the age of twelve years, when
he began the active work of his career by taking serv-
ice as a clerk in a mercantile business in Chambers
county. In 1896 he started up in the mercantile busi-
ness for himself, since which time he has been very
prominent in the commercial and financial activities
of the state.

In 1903 Mr. Sterling moved to Sour Lake, Texas,
where he became interested to some extent in the grain
business, and in 1904 he moved to Houston, which city
has since been his headquarters for his varied and
many sided interests. In Houston is located the main
office of the firm of E. S. Sterling & Company, Whole-



sale Grain and Feed, and they conduct branch retail
stores at Saratoga and Humble, Texas. Mr. Sterling
in addition to his commercial activities, above named,
is president of the Dayton Mercantile Company, of
Dayton, Texas, as well as being president of the Day-
ton Lumber Company of the tame place, and of the
Humble OU Company at Humble, Texas, He is secre-
tary of the Harris County Navigation District, better
known as the Houston Ship Channel, and in addition
to these he has large real estate investments in the city
of Houston, He is president of the Trinity Valley
Korthern Eailroad Company, and in a financial way is
also deeply interested as president of state banks at
Dayton, Humble, Weimer, Sour Lake and Saratoga,
Texas. These varied interests occupy his time and at-
tention to such an e-xtent as to exclude him from many
activities of a social nature, and beyond his member-
ship in the Knights of Pythias, the "Woodmen of the
World and the Houston Club and the Houston Country
Club, he has no social or fraternal affiliations.

Mr. Sterling was married in 1899 to Miss Maud Gage
the daughter of Fred Hamilton Gage, of Illinois, and they
have five children, as follows: Walter Gage; Mil-
dred; Euth; Eoss Shaw, Jr., and Xorma Sterling.

The home of the family is located at 224 Faun Ave-
nue, and is one of the hospitality and social centers of
the city.

Walter S. Clattox. Since 1888 a resident of Texas
and during most of that time at El Paso, Mr. Clayton
is one of the citizens of this city whose long residence,
success in business and high personal character entitles
them to the best distinction in public life, and their pre-
vious records insure faithful and intelligence service in
the public interest. Mr. Clayton has, during his long
career at El Paso, built up a large wholesale flour and
feed business, and at the present time is one of the city
aldermen. The people of El Paso have come to appre-
ciate his work and realize that when his name is asso-
ciated with any undertaking for the public welfare that
the enterprise is already well upon its way to successful
accomplishment. Although one of the most prominent
business and civic leaders of the city he is in every re-
spect an unassuming gentleman who accomplishes results
without any aggressive display of energy and with a
quiet effectiveness which is a patent characteritsic of a
really strong personality.

Walter S. Clayton is a native of the city of New
Orleans where he was born July 19, 1867. His father,
William Clayton, was a Virginian by birth, moving to
New Orleans, where he died in 1872. Throughout his
active life he was engaged in railroading. The maiden
name of his wife was Jane Hozey, and she was born
in New Orleans where they were married and where she
died in 1S76. The parents are buried side by side in one
of the cemeteries of New Orleans. There were three
children, Walter being the second and only son.

He spent the first twenty-one years of his life in his
native state and then came to Texas in 1888, Since
then he has resided in this state. His first location was
near Fort Stockton, and during his year's residence there
engaged in the cattle and live stock business. On com-
ing to El Paso he took a position with the Mexican Cen-
tral Eailroad as a clerk, and remained with that trans-
portation company for about eight years during which
time he filled various executive positions at different
points in old Mexico. On resigning he established a flour,
feed, hay, grain and similar supplies depot, and has built
this up to one of the largest commercial concerns of the
kind in western Texas, now engaging in a general whole-
sale and retail business,

Mr. Clayton's early schooling was obtained in Louisi-
ana, first in the public schools, and then in a private
college at New Orleans. During the latter period of
his schooling he worked in the day time and attended
to his studies at night, and in this way fitted himself for

a career of usefulness. After leaving college he took a
position with a wholesale dry goods house at New
Orleans, continuing with that for one year, and was then
a clerk with a firm of English cotton buyers, continuing
in the latter place until he left for Texas.

4t New Orleans July 16, 1895, Mr. Clayton married
iliss Rose Gaines, a daughter of Col. Lucius Gaines, of
an old Virginia family. Five children, three sons and
two daughters have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Clayton,
namely: Eose M., Walter G., Frances, Frank B., and
William E. Mr. Clayton and family are communicants
of the Unitarian church. He is affiliated with the Elks
and Beavers Fraternities, with the Toltec Club, has
membership in the T, P. A., was president during 1912
of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, and since 1909
has been president of the Business Men 's Protective
Association of El Paso. Politically he is a Democrat,
and interests himself to a considerable extent in party
affairs, and always in good government. As a member ^
of the board of aldermen, he is one of the most progres-
sive and energetic of the present municipal administra-
tion, and his presence in the city government is good
grounds for confidence among the majority of citizens
as to the wholesome integrity and efficiency of the city
administration. He is now serving his second term as an
alderman. Outside of his business and civic relations,
Mr. Clayton has great fondness for horses and all out-
door sports. His esthetic tastes run especially to music,
though he is almost equally fond of literature and takes
great pleasure out of his well selected private library.
He is the type of citizen who is doing most for the up-
building of "the city of El Paso and is one of the strong-
est individual influences for good government and for
continued material prosperity along all lines.

HoK.ACE B. Hates. Two fine drug stores in El Paso
represent the business enterprise of Mr. Hayes, who
came to El Paso about six or seven years ago, and in
this brief time by his energy and business ability has
succeeded and made progress such as few of his busi-
ness contemporaries have equaled. He seems to possess
the native ability of a merchant, at any rate his ex-
perience and equipment has been such that as a retailer
and business builder he is enjoying a most noteworthy

Horace B. Hayes was born at Hillsboro in North Caro-
lina, October 29, 1873, a son of William A. and Susan
B. Hayes. His early education was in the private schools
of North Carolina, and after leaving school he took a
position in a general mercantile establishment in that
state. Two years there gave him experience and also
afforded him the funds for his next move in life. From
North Carolina he went to Baltimore, when he was about
eighteen years of age, and by work on the side he paid
his wav "through two .years of study in the Maryland
College" of Pharmacy. " After graduating in 1894, he
began his regular work at the profession, and soon
bought a share in a business, in which he had been a
clerk during his college career. He was actively engaged
in business at Baltimore, until he came to El Paso in
1906, After a few months Mr. Hayes bought an in-
terest in a local drug store, and has since been the
active manager of the business. The style of the firm is
Hayes, Harp & Ponas. In 1907 Mr. Hayes opened a
branch store, and now has two elegant drug establish-
ments, well situated to command the best trade and
carrying a complete line of drugs and druggists' sun-
dries, surgical supplies and periodicals, and everything
which should be found in the stock of a modern drug

Mr. Haves was married at Hickory, North Carolina,
October 3, 1900, to Miss Estelle Le Noir Clinard, a
daughter of Frank C. Clinard of Hickory. They are
the parents of one child, Charlotte. Mr. and Jlrs.
Hayes are both members of the Episcopal church, he is
affiliated with the Masonic Order, and is a Democratic


Toter. although not an active partisan in party ailairs,
be.voiid that. Hunting and fishing and baseball are his
favorite amusements when he can get away from busi-
ness and he is a man of broad interests and takes pleas-
ure in watching and helping when he can the upbuilding
and development of his home city.

Arthur W. Houck. The distinctive prestige of El
Paso among western cities, aside from its remarkable
advantages in climate, has been the result of its splendid
position with reference to the great mining resources of
this vicinity. These mining industries have attracted to
the city many men who have made reputations for
themselves as practical miners and engineers and in the
other technical pursuits connected with the industry, and
one of these, who has been a resident of this city for
more than ten years is Mr. Houck, who has had a quar-
ter century 's experience in assaying and who has an
office and a large established practice in that profession
in El Paso. His offices in this city are at 403 North
Oregon Street. Arthur W. Houck was born at Lincoln,
Nebraska. .Tiilv 2S, 1873, a son of George and Imogene
Houck. The 'father died at Lincoln in 1875 and the
mother is still living. The father was a farmer near
Lincoln. Reared in Nebraska, Mr. Houck attained his
early education in the public schools of that state, and
following his inclination for scientific pursuit he then
entered the school of mines at Golden, Colorado, where
he was graduated B. S. in 1887, having given particu-
lar attention to chemistry and mineralogy. He at once
became identified with the active work of his profession,
and was located at various points from 1888 to 1902
finally in the latter year coming to El Paso and estab-
lishing his present business. In politics he is -Republican,
but has always maintained an independent attitude and
has voted for the man or the principle rather than the
party. He is one of the charter members of the El
Paso Country Club.

At Chicago, Illinois, June 2, 1895, Mr. Houck mar-
ried Miss Agnes Withers, a daughter of Mary D. With-
ers. Her father died when she was an infant, and her
mother now lives with Mrs. Houck. The children of
Mr. and Mrs. Houck have been eight in number, four
of whom died in childhood, and the four now living are:
Gerald W., Guenn M., Dorothy A., and Arthur W., Jr,

In ancestry Mr. Houck is of German origin on his
father's side, while his mother was a descendant of May-
flower settlers, with prominent connections with some of
the early families of Pennsylvania. Mr. Houck has been
very successful in his business and is a loyal citi7en of
El Paso. He has been especially impressed with the
wonderful climate and the matiMi:il nsMin'rcs of south-
west Texas, and as a man nf s^ irntili,- knowledije and
broad observation he has alw;iys trie. I to extend the
information concerning this country to all who are in-
terested in the vicinity as a possible place of residence.

James Gabriel Smither. The Smither family, of
which Captain Smither is a member, has been identified
with Montgomery and Walker counties and Texas since
the establishment of the Republic. It has furnished
many capable men and women to society, to business
affairs, to professional and agricultural life, and many
of the name served as soldiers in the various wars of
the nation,

James Gabriel Smither has spent all his life in Hunts-
ville, where he was born April 19, 1S46. His father
was Robert G. Smither, and his grandfather John
Smither. John Smither, who spent his last years in
Huntsville. was born May 27. 1779, in Richmond county,
Virginia, was captain in a Virginia Regiment in the war
of 1S12, and died at Huntsville in September, 1860, He
had a twin brother. William, and three other brothers,
Launcelot, Gabriel and Richard, and three sisters, Pris-
cilla, Lucy and Nancy, the last two being twins. John
Smither 's mother was Wilmoth Sydnor Routt, and her

mother was a Miss Sydnor, of Virginia, John Smither
was married February 18, 1808, to Mary Patience Green-
way, who also died in Huntsville, Her grandfather,
John Harper, lived in Alexandria, Virginia, Mary
Patience Greenway 's mother was Rebecca Harper, who
married Charles Greenway, The children of John and
Mary I'atienee Smitlier were as follows: Charles G.,
who died in Tennessee; Robert G. ; Gabriel and William,
both of whom died in ilississippi, leaving large families;
James L., who also served in the Mexican war, in a
Tennessee Regiment, and died in Huntsville, leaving one
child; Julia Ann, who married Washington Viser and
died in Madison county, Texas, leaving three children;
John R„ who died in Huntsville, and left a large fam-
ily; Jo.seph A., who died in Huntsville without children.
Robert Goodloe Smither, father of Captain Smither,
was born at Washington, Rappahannock county, Vir-
ginia. November 21, ISll, and died September 10, 1853.
He was a man of ordinary education, and devoted his
life to lousiness. He spent some time in Mississippi, and
came to Texas during the thirties, locating in the coun-
try, a few miles from Huhtsville. He later moved to the
city and was one of the first merchants of the place.
During the war for Texas independence, he served with
the rank of major in the Texas fi(M)|is, and participated
in the campaigns in 1S42 :iu;misi \';is.iuez anil Woll,
who invaded Texas in spring; .nid fall of that year.
His death occurred at Grand Ivoic, Louisiana, while re-
turning from New York on a trip to liuy goods. He was
a Democrat, an Odd Fellow and a church member.

Robert G. Smither married Elizabeth Emmeline
Calmes, who was born February 9, 1817, in Fairfield dis-
trict of South Carolina. Her brother, John Johnstone
Calmes was born November 7, 1819 ; and her sister Mary
Caldwell Calmes was born March 3, 1821. Their father
was Marquis Calmes. who was born May 9, 1784, served
in the War of 1812, moved to Tennessee in 1826, was
first sheriff of Tipton County, Tennessee, and died in
Covington, Tennessee, in November, 1841, His father
William Calmes born near Winchester, Virginia, in 1761,
served under Lafayette in the Revolutionary War.
Marquis Calmes married Marv Ann Johnstone on June
28, 1810, at Fairfield, South Carolina. The children of
Robert G. Smither and wife were: William Bowles,
born October 10, 1839, at Oxford, Mississippi, was Lieu-
tenant of Co. K, 31st Texas (Confederate) Cavalry, and
died March 15, 1875, at Huntsville; Mary Aletha, born
December 6, 1841, and who died in infancy; John Mar-
quis, born January 7, 1844, in Montgomery county,
Texas, now a resident of Huntsville, and who was "a
former county judge, a former judge of the district
court, and saw service as a Confederate soldier in Lee's
army. James Gabriel, who was born April 19, 1846;
Juliette Ella, born October 13, 1848, and lives in Hunts-
ville; Miles Temple, born April 21, 1851, who died Feb-
ruary 2, 1881, without a family; Robert Elizabeth, born
October 7, 1853, and who died February 15, 1870,

James G. Smither was educated largely by experience,
since his youth was spent in the troublous days preceding
and during the Civil war. He attended for a brief time
Austin College, while it was located in Huntsville. In
the fall of the second year nf the war he entered the
siT\iii> m ( ai.t.iin IL'iiinlt.iii 's Pompany in Roundtree's
b.-itT;iliMii. :ni.| Cnldiicl Iiinwu's 31st Texas Cavalry regi-
nii'iit. Witli tliis (-•nniinand lii' remained until the close
Hi;- iriiicli service in Texas and Louisi-
leiit was in front of General Bank's
at and fought some of the battles of
ipaign. After that campaign the com-
d w,is ord.Tcil back to Texas and was disbanded at
■p.ihlrii. ,.. Ill Washington county. Captain Smither
Mil ,1 III! ]iiii:;li at the time the troops were disbanded.
is ,;ir,.,.r rifter the war was identified with farming
several years. The most important of Mr. Smither 's
tions has been in connection with the state prison at
tsville. He was appointed assistant superintendent

si ana. H
army on i
the Red R




of the Huntsville penitentiary in 1888 by Governor Eoss
and had charge of the prison there until 1903. His service
really began m the prison in 1878, when be was made a
sergeant by Major Goree, and served as an under officer
for ten years. During his administration the service
was kept up at the highest point of efficiency, and all
those who know anything of Captain Smither 's adminis-
tration will recall that he ruled more by love and pa-
tience than by a rigid discipline which has been all too
common in penal institutions. Kindness was his uni-
versal practice with convicts, and they all admired and
obeyed implicitly his jurisdiction. Outside of his prison
work. Captain Smither has been officially identified with
the town of Huntsville or Walker county. In politics he
has done some important work, having attended all the big
conventions as a delegate and having helped to nominate
all the governors up to the present time. In Congres-
sional conventions and judicial and other local conven-
tions he has seen a broad and intimate service. He has
helped to build up Huntsville, and is one of the most
substantial and best known citizens of that old Texas
city. In Walker county on January 12, 1870, Captain
Smither married Miss Mary A. Walker, a daughter of
Oliver Hazard Perry Walker and Elizabeth (Walton)
Walker. Her father, who was born in Montgomery
county, Alabama, came to Texas as a boy with his uncle,
and became a merchant in Huntsville and died at Waxa-
hacbie, Texas, and is buried there. His, wife died in
Huntsville, and her children were: Mrs. Smither;
Thomas E. of Walker county; John I. H., who died
young; and Sarah Ellen J., who died unmarried. After
the death of her first husband, Mrs. Walker married
Martin Gibbs, and hei children by that union are Wil-
liam Eufus; Jeff Davis; and Bessie Martin, who married
J. D. Nance of Huntsville. Mr. and Mrs. Smither have
the following children: Robert, of Huntsville, who mar-
ried Maggie Davenport, and has a child, Mary Irene;
Walton Calmes, of Burrwood, Louisiana, who married
Ella Eobinson, and has two children, Evelyn Calmes
and Jimmie Waldron. Captain Smither is fraternally
identified with the Knights and Ladies of Honor, the
Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Home Circle.
He is not a church man, but his famUy attend and sup-
port the Baptist denomination.

Whitaker Keesey. Only unusual character and
activity can command such high personal esteem as is
paid on all sides to this venerable retired buisness man
and pioneer citizen of Fort Davis. It is no inconsider-
able distinction that he became identified with Fort
Davis soon after the war and from the early seventies
until his retirement was a factor in the development
of one of the most flourishing commercial houses of
West Texas. There are hundreds of people, beneficiaries
of his spirit and practice of loving kindness, who
would claim that all the fruits of his vigorous com-
mercial efforts, excellent though they are, should be
ostimated as inconsiderable against the finer products
of his generosity, his practical Christianity. While
others may point to institutions founded and organized
benevolences supported, the charity of Mr. Keesey is
still finer and better. Scores of men are prosperous
and occupy a creditable place in their community as a
residt of financial aid and business counsel from Mr.
Keesey. In the country about Fort Davis during the
last forty years it is said that he has helped nearly
everybody. When loans were refused by everybody else,
a certain resort in time of need was this kindly Fort
Davis merchant. And the result of his experience with
men has increased rather than lessened his faith, for
almost invariably men have eagerly sought to repay him
out of the first fruits of a renewed prosperity.

Only in a broad outline it is possible to sketch the
career of Whitaker Keesey. He has been too busy to
keep a record even in memory of the many changes and
•vicissitudes of his experience, and these are, as already

stated, inconsiderable and of no great importance as
measured against the gratitude for his life and services
which is impressed in the hearts of men in various
sections of West Texas. Whitaker Keesey was born
September 4, 1843, at Lancaster, Ohio, and was reared
in the city of Steubenville on the Ohio river. His parents
were George and Nancy (Thomas) Keesey, his father
a drayman, who in 1851 went west to California, and
never returned to his family. There were six children
thus left without adequate means of rearing and sup-
port, three sons and three daughters, and Whitaker was

Online LibraryFrancis White JohnsonA history of Texas and Texans (Volume 4) → online text (page 56 of 177)