Mayors of Corsicana
Navarro County, Texas


HOME


Biography Index || Mayors Index

Researched by W. P. Murchison, Mayor of Corsicana April 1969 - April 1971
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", Vol. XIX, 1974
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society


 

Ira P. Taylor - 1871

irataylr.jpg (6151 bytes)No records indicate the specific date, but I would estimate that Ira. P. Taylor took office as the first mayor on or about September 1, 1871.  It was a dubious honor, because Taylor had been a Union soldier under Davis when the latter was colonel of the Texas volunteers in Federal service, and Corsicana citizens had had enough of Union soldiers.  But in fairness to Mayor Taylor, he was a good and honorable man.  His first effort was to start construction of a city market on the corner of 4th Ave. and N. 13th St., but the money ran out before he got very far.   When Taylor organized the City police force, he ordered the State Militiamen, who were negroes, to leave, and this was his downfall.  On Oct. 28, 1871, the Corsicana Observer, under the heading, "Our City Officers," wrote: "We are informed that the governor has removed our present popular mayor, I. P. Taylor and Marshall Page.   No cause assigned -- and appointed in their place G. W. Smith, Mayor, who is but too well known to our citizens, and J. W. Erwin, Marshall.  Those who know the parties will at once perceive the cause.  The present incumbents were not mean enough nor were they willing to do the dirty work required of them by Davis.  The present authorities had white men for policemen.  They were determined to be decent, although holding the office under Davis.  But the tyrant's ax fell upon their necks without notice and their heads rolled from the official block."  After considerable turmoil, Smith was removed as mayor and Taylor returned, but the remaining portion of his one year term was very hectic and turbulent.  Mayor Taylor had one daughter, Mr. Tom Kerr, a good citizen of Corsicana.

G. W. Smith - 1871

This second mayor was a carpet bagger from the north, a member of Gov. Davis' State Militia.  Confusion reigned and records are lacking, but reports were to the effect he was removed and Ira B. Taylor reinstated; but no City progress was made until November 1872 when citizens of Corsicana, for the first time, elected their mayor.


Thomas J. Haynes, Nov. 1872 - Nov. 1875

The first elected mayor was one of the original settlers in Corsicana.  He operated a carpenter shop on the south side of the courthouse square and when the courthouse burned in 1855, the District became County Judge, was a Confederate soldier, and later ran a hotel.  His aldermen were N. H. Butler, J. M. Eliot, A. F. Robbins, C. H. Allyn, and James Garitty.  His first job was to open and grade streets which were on the City map.  Up to that time there had been no street maintenance, and there were no sidewalks or gutters.  R. A. Van Horn, editor of the Observer, wrote: "Thanks for the walks across the public square to the the courthouse so people won't have to wade in mud up to their knees."  Two weeks later he wrote: "The war on hogs running loose is good but how about a war on dogs?"   The city built a log jail called the Calaboose, 15x17 feet, in which as many as 25 prisoners were held at a time.  Tow things were obvious: the jail was unsanitary and there were a lot of lawbreakers for a small town.  After several jailbreaks, it was abandoned when the County built a jail in 1876.  On April 15, 1874, a city ordinance closed saloons on Sundays. There were so many protests and such opposition that the officials amended the law so the saloons would be closed only from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays, when church was in session.  On Jan. 15, 1876, the newspaper wrote: "We have heard it whispered that some of the young gentlemen and ladies of this city propose forming a Historical Society and a Dramatic Assn.  The object of which will be to found a circulating library and reading room.  This will be an acquisition to our city and a place for pleasant recreation.  A large majority of the young men of every town and city pass their evenings in saloons because they have no where else to go.   We sincerely hope that they may carry out their plan; we know it can be done if the young people of Corsicana will make up their minds to do it."  On Oct. 28, 1874, the Observer reported that gold had been found in Corsicana.  A Vein six feet underground, going east to west, 1 mile long, 2 feet thick, 5 to 15 miles wide, was discovered by men digging wells, one of them on the Schwartz property.  Unfortunately the quartz formation contained nothing but pyrite, also known as "Fools gold" and this terminated Corsicana's gold rush.  On April 22, 1874, the newspaper wrote: "All the City's annual income, $5,200.00 goes to the officials and leaves only $21.50 for a year's street maintenance.  They mayor should go ragged."  He was actually making $100.00 per month.  When the City ran out of money, he issued City Warrants, or script, which was always paid.  In 1875 the first City Hall was built, a wooden frame building on 3rd Avenue, across from the courthouse.  On March 15, 1875, the legislature gave Corsicana and other cities new charters, along with the new State Constitution, thus washing out the old Carpetbag rule.


Note:
Thomas J. Haynes is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, in Corsicana, Texas.
22 July 1824 - 25 September 1877 - Mason; stone broken and laying flat (1989)

See Also:


James L. Harle, Nov. 1875 - Nov. 1877

The next Mayor was a lawyer and publisher by the name of J. L. Harle, who served two years.  Residing at 806 E. 10th Avenue, he had been county judge, and was a local political head of "The Peoples Party."  Owner of the Central Texas Publishing Co., located at 216 W. Collin, he published a magazine "Farm and Factory," and in 1890 he published "Truth," a newspaper with 3,000 subscribers.  His principal contribution as mayor was in building and improving streets.  He passed an ordinance keeping horses and vehicles off the sidewalks.   He graded the streets.  Many people had built homes on what later turned out to be city streets.  These houses he condemned, paying the owners and selling them for a profit of $575.00.  June 10, 1876.  Fifth Avenue and Collin Street had not been opened.  When he started to cut the street through, he was confronted by R. N. White, as well known original settler who owned a two story house, surrounded by giant postoaks, on the 100 block of West Fifth Avenue where the Ideal Theater now is.   White did not want the streets, so he built fences across them, guarded them with a shotgun and went to court to protect his property.  But law prevailed and the streets were opened.  Mayor Harle's daughter married Francis Marion Martin, who later became Lieutenant Governor of Texas.


John L. Miller, Nov. 1877 - 1880

See John L. Miller Biography Page

Notes:


L. R. Irons, (or Lyons) Nov. 1880 - Nov. 1883

This is one mayor on whom there is little information, because he evidently moved away from Corsicana later.  Records indicate he sold a cemetery lot in 1883.  But his record of accomplishments is substantial.  In 1881 his administration voted to open free public schools in Corsicana, and in 1882 he hired Prof. J. T. Hand as superintendent, Capt. James E. Townsend as high school principal, and the well remembered Miss Sally as a primary teacher.  Plans were made to build schools later.  In 1882 he constructed a 120 acre lake, known to us as "The Waterworks," "Magnolia Lake," or "Lake Fleming".   For water pressure he erected a stovepipe type standpipe, 80 feet high, in east Corsicana at a cost of $80,000.  And he constructed a crematory to burn city garbage.


John R. Smith, Nov. 1883 - Nov. 1885

Mayor Smith is remembered principally because he organized the Corsicana Volunteer Fire Department Dec 29, 1883.  Up to that time there had been a number of disastrous fires.  On two occasions, whole blocks on Beaton Street has burned, besides total losses on many homes.  While this was not a complete solution, it at least gave the citizenry more comfort to have a fire department.

J. J. Strupper, a railroad man, was made fire chief, and Abe Mulkey, a widely known Methodist evangelist, was first assistant.  The 25 original volunteers were later increased to 40 and still later to 60, with appropriate equipment being added.  The chief and drivers were on full time and drew salaries, the rest drew no pay.  In 1884, the City paid the County $4,000.00 to help buy a 200 acre farm at Petty's Chapel where prisoners without money could work out their fines.   This was called the "Poor Farm" and was operated by the County.

See Also:


Robert Scott Neblett, Nov. 1885 - April 1888

Because the '80 's was a period of growth in Corsicana, Judge Neblett brought more improvements to Corsicana than any other mayor, before or since.   Born in Grimes County, Texas, March 16, 1855, he came to Corsicana Jan 1, 1877 after graduating from Trinity University, as a law partner of Judge Rufus Hardy and, later, Sam Frost.  He was a top lawyer, but his prestige as a city builder overshadowed his reputation as an attorney.  He was 30 years of age, the youngest of Corsicana's mayors.  The following is a list of major accomplishments during his administration:

  1. The City erected the first brick school building in Corsicana
  2. Gas for the City was brought in during 1885
  3. Electricity for the City was brought in during 1886
  4. The old city hall, sometimes referred to as "The Opera House," located at Main and West Fifth Avenue was built in 1886 at a cost of $17,000.
  5. A light tower was installed on the southeast corner of Beaton and Collin for the purpose of lighting the downtown area.  This project did not work out so well and the tower was removed a few years later, but is is well remembered as a downtown landmark.
  6. In 1887 the City gave 222 acres for the purpose of bringing in the State Orphans Home which opened in 1886.
  7. To solve the transportation problem, the Corsicana transit Co. was organized in 1888 with 3 miles of street railways.  Previously, mule driven cars were used.  The street cars no longer exist but served a useful purpose then.
  8. In 1888 25 miles of sewer pipe were laid at a cost of $25,000.
  9. In 1888 he paved Beaton Street and two side streets with bois d' arc trees, used principally to border farm property and for shade purposes.   These wooden cobblestones were rough but served the purpose and got the downtown out of mud.  I recall they were really rough to ride a bicycle over.
  10. In 1886 the streets were numbered on all but Beaton and Collin Streets.  Old names like Washington, Jefferson, Confederate, Pecan, Cedar, and Church were removed.  In recent years some of the old names have come back.
  11. Last, but not least, he got the voters to approve a new City Charter which, among other things, changed election dates from the 1st Tuesday in November to the 1st Tuesday in April.  Monthly salaries for the mayor and aldermen $5.00 each per meeting for those meetings actually attended, with a limit of two paid meetings per month.  This is the same as the present salary which is nominal, making official city service honorary rather than profitable.

Judge Neblet later served as legislator, lived at 418 W. Third Avenue, and died Jan. 18, 1918.  His son, Robert, was a lawyer in Fort Worth, and his daughter, Conger Neblett Hagar, was a nationally known bird authority who died recently at Rockport, Texas.  The Neblett family is documented in Volume XXVIII Issue II (May 2005) Issue of the Navarro Leaves and Branches

Notes:


Charles Henry Allyn, April 1888 - April 1890

The next mayor, better known as Captain Allyn, was born in Oswego County, N.Y. in 1842, reared in Wisconsin, served in the Union Army, came to New Orleans as a quartermaster clerk in 1862, handling army supplies.  As the H. & T. C. Railroad was being built north of Houston, he opened up several mercantile stores along the route, came to Corsicana in 1871 when the railroad arrived.  With a flair for investments, he participated in the organization of the First National Bank, the Street Railway, the local Savings & Loan Co., the Merchants Opera House, the Oil Mill, the Cotton Mill, the Country Club, and many other organizations.  He took an active interest in the public schools, the orphans homes, and the public library.  He had been an alderman for 14 years before serving a two year term as mayor.  He got the town out of the mud in 1889 by requiring each property owner to install sidewalks next to the streets.  Concrete was expensive, so bricks were used, and there are still many of these old brick sidewalks in the city.  Beside a city official, he was a school trustee, being president of the School Board for one term.  His last residence was 708 West Seventh Ave, and he died in 1918.  Allyn Lang and Robert Hamilton, of this city, are his grandsons.

See Also:


Jesse Franklin Stout, April 1890 - April 1892

Another lawyer and county judge, judge Stout was born in Wilks County, North Carolina, coming to Corsicana when the H. & T. C. Railroad arrived.  A very able lawyer, he had substantial holdings of real estate in Corsicana, was the first customer of the First National Bank.  As mayor he continued the process of improving the streets and sidewalks.  Born in 1846, he died in 1936.   Mrs. Wilbur Wright of Corsicana is his daughter.

See Also:


Jink Evans, April 1892 - April 1894

Jink Evans, another lawyer, is remembered for the discovery well on South 12th Street that struck oil two months after his term as mayor had expired.   The waterworks was not furnishing sufficient water, so the officials decided to tap the underground artesian water.  This water was no good for drinking, washing, or watering yards, but it was all right for bathing, sewerage, and fire protection.  So the City made a contract with Johnston, Aiken & Rittersbacher to drill a 2400 foot water well on the 400th block of South 12th Street.  On June 9, 1894, nearly two months after Mayor Evans' term had expired, the drillers struck oil at 1,035 feet, producing 2 1/2 barrels per day along with artesian water, and this changed the history of the town.  Evans communicated with all the oil men he could find in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, urging them to come to Corsicana.

Among other official accomplishments, he procured a 1600 pound firebell which was big enough and loud enough to summon all the volunteer fire fighters in Corsicana.  It used to be customary to ask the telephone operator where the fire was, and she would always oblige, whether it was for the firefighter or curious onlooker.  Evans lived on the southwest corner of West Third Avenue and North Twenty-second Street.  When he retired as mayor he took a job as industrial manager at the State Orphans Home, instructing boys in the arts of farming and mechanics, and he moved his residence to the home.  He had one daughter who married F. L. Murray, an employee of Bank Sutherland's undertaking establishment.  Dates of his birth and death are unavailable.  His last written report at the Orphans Home was dated 1912.


James Emerson Whiteselle, April 1894 - April 1898

Mayor Whiteselle was born Dec. 31, 1851, in Obion County, Tennessee.  At age 18 he came to Port Neches, Texas, where he worked for a lumber man, P. O. Ezell, who did business with F. W. Carruthers of Corsicana.  His neat penmanship on invoices so impressed Mr. Carruthers that he hired him to come to Corsicana in 1875, and being a bright and industrious young man he soon bought out Carruthers.   He became vice-president of the First National Bank, invested widely in real-estate and in private business, operated the Whiteselle Lumber Company and the brickyard south of town.  A very honorable and high minded man, he helped many people.

He took office about two months before the discovery oil well was struck, June 9, 1894.  As mayor, his principal activity was to work with the oil companies in developing the newly struck oil.  He helped establish the Magnolia Refinery, was associated with founders of the Gulf and Texas oil companies.   He was president of the Corsicana Gas & Electric Co., vice-president of the Texas Mill & Elevator Co., vice-president of the Corsicana Street Railway Co., vice-president of the Navarro County Fair Association, and secretary-treasurer of the Texas Trust Co.  In addition he was influential in bringing the Texas Electric Railway Co. in 1913 to Corsicana.  Married to Kate Huey, he lived in a brick mansion on West Seventh Avenue, where the Collin Street Bakery is now located.  He died Dec. 1915, leaving no children.

See Also:


James Hollins Woods, April 1898 - April 1900

This is another distinguished attorney, who was born in Hillsboro, Texas, in 1858, coming to Corsicana Nov. 29, 1873.  As president of the Texas Loan Agency, he financed real estate, also was proprietor of the City Bookstore.   As mayor he transferred the administration of the public schools from the City of Corsicana to the Corsicana Independent School District, with the city to continue collection of School taxes.  He authorized J. S. Cullinan of the Corsicana Oil & Refining Co. to oil the streets free of charge, to settle the dust.  This was the second time it had ever been done in the U.S., the first time being in California.   After retiring as mayor he was a State legislator from 1911 to 1919 and then served as State Senator from 1919 to 1923.  His home at 504 W. Second Avenue received a Historical Plaque several years ago.  None of his children lived in Corsicana, but a son Damon, served on diplomatic duty in Paris, France.  Mayor Woods died in 1931.

See Also:


Samuel Wistar Johnson, April 1900 - April 1902

Mayor Johnson, an outstanding surgeon, was the first doctor to be mayor.  He was born in 1853 and resided at 122 West Fourth Avenue.  He was a very good business man, had been cashier of the Corsicana National Bank, also secretary-treasurer of the Corsicana Land & Loan Co.  His principal accomplishment as mayor was the establishment of the Public Library in 1901, in the Hardy-Peck Building, membership dues, $1.00 per year.  After being mayor, he moved to Dallas, where he practiced medicine.  His children also moved away, but he was related to many good Corsicana families.  He died in 1922 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Corsicana, Texas.

See Also:

Notes:

  • Samuel's brother, Cone, served as State Representative, State Senator, and worked with Woodrow Wilson prior to WWI to help stabilize foreign policy.   (Samuel Wistar Johnson III - Dec 2002)

Edwin O. Call, April 1902 - April 1905

Here is another distinguished lawyer who had quite a reputation as a criminal attorney, being a member of the firm of Callicutt & Call.   He was born in North Carolina April 7, 1859, and died in Corsicana November 16, 1918.  As mayor he made a 50 year franchise contract with the Corsicana Traction Co. for streetcar service, but the streetcar closed down about 20 years later for lack of business.  After the oil companies quit giving oil to the City, he bought oil and maintained the streets with it. While he had relatives in Corsicana, he left no immediate family. 

Notes:


Edward Albert Johnson, April 1905 - April 1909

Mayor Johnson was a druggist, having established Johnson's Drug Store which carried his name long after he had retired.  He was born in 1852, became mayor at the age of 53.  Among his accomplishments as mayor, he got $25,000 from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for the library building which was opened Jan. 1, 1906.  To maintain the library he put a 5 cent tax on each $100.00 evaluation of property.  This tax still exists and helps pay a large part of the operating cost.   In 1905 he proposed and got the voters to approve a new city charter.  In 1908 he built a new jail, which is the little red building on the west side of the city hall.   During his term of office, the Trinity & Brazos Valley Railroad came to Corsicana, thus giving the city three railroads.  He lived at 648 West Fifth Avenue and died in 1937.

Notes:


Baldwin H. Woods, Jr., April 1909 - April 1913

Mayor Woods was a brother of former mayor J. H. Woods.   He was born at Hillsboro, Texas in 1861, operated Woods & Bright Grocery at 110 W. Collin, lived at 811 W. 5th Avenue.  He is remembered principally for having planned and started a street paving program which did much to improve the city.  He died Feb 24, 1921, with no living relatives in Corsicana.  Mrs. W. A. Tarver and Mrs. Thorpe Montfort were his daughters.


Joshua Lucius Halbert, April 1913 - 1923

See Joshua Lucius Halbert Biography/Obituary page


Jesse Shain Eubanks, April 1923 - April 1925

Jess Eubanks was a very remarkable man because of his aggressive accomplishments.  Born in Grayson County Jan. 20, 1884, educated in Sherman public schools and in Pennsylvania Military College of Chester Penn., he came to Corsicana in 1910, where he was vice-president and cashier of the Corsicana National Bank, living at 504 N. 25th Street.  He was elected mayor in 1922 and when the oil boom came in 1923 he sold water to the oil companies for their drilling rigs, charging high rates, no doubt, but never-the-less receiving enough money from the oil companies to pay fully for the present city hall, with no cost to the taxpayers.  It might be noted that the city hall was built with a reinforced foundation which would permit a third story to be added to the building.  In 1927 he moved back to Sherman, Texas, and served that city as mayor, died in 1944, leaving three children, Jess, Jr., Alberta, and Martha.

John Smith Murchison, April 1925 - April 1929 and April 1935 - October 1940

The next mayor, J. S. Murchison, was born near Crockett, Texas, June 28, 1878, came to Corsicana in 1900 as a druggist, married Daisy Polk and raised five children, residing at 406 S. 15th Street.  He became a car dealer in 1915, being agent for Studebaker, Chevrolet, and Cadillac.  He served the city longer than any other elected official, including 3 years as alderman, 3 years as commissioner, and 10 years as mayor.  He first served a term from 1925 to 1929 and another term from 1935  to 1940.  In 1924 he disbanded the old Volunteer Fire Department and organized a full time paid fire department with Elmer Keith as fire chief.  Since the oil boom was in full swing, he installed the first traffic lights and, a little later, the parking meters.  Jester Addition was added to the City, street paving, water lines, and sewer lines were extended.  Downtown streets were paved with bricks, which have turned out better than any other paving.  The first municipal airport was opened on the County Club road.  During his second term, the depression of the '30s was on and, as mayor, he was in charge of the Works Progress Administration, using men on government relief for labor at no expense to the city.  The dam at Lake Halbert was rebuilt and the city worked on plans for a new airport near Navarro.  Taking advantage of the government's low rate interest, he refinanced the City's bonds, saving interest payments for the City.  In late 1940 he resigned to take the job of State Director of Public Welfare in Austin.  Returning to Corsicana in 1943, he served on the Ration Board.   For many years he was Democratic Precinct Chairman for Ward 2.  He died Oct. 14, 1961.  My two sisters, Mrs. Josephine Cooksey and Mrs. Iza Wallin, and I [W. P. Murchison] are surviving children.

Robert Lloyd Wheelock, April 1929 - April 1931

Our 21st mayor was R. L. Wheelock who was born in Troupe, Texas, May 7, 1893.  Coming to Corsicana as a druggist, he entered the oil businessand became one of the State's most successful independent operators, having production not only in Navarro County but in a number of other fields.  As mayor, he handled many phases in connection with the city's growth.  He installed a garbage incinerator on the Chatfield road and worked on plans for the Navarro municipal flying field.  A very generous and sociable individual, he helped many people.  Each summer he held an annual stag barbecue on his ranch, entertaining as many as 3,000 men at a time; nothing to equal this has been seen here before or since.  Mr. Wheelock lived in Governor's Drive, had three children, Robert, Jr., Mrs. Betty Kennaugh, and Mrs. Susie Dunn.  Robert Lloyd Wheelock died Aug. 23, 1962 in Dallas County, Texas.
[ Obituary | Oakwood Cemetery ]


J. Wesley Edens, April 1931 - April 1935

To J. W. Edens fell the dubious honor of being mayor of Corsicana during the bottom of the depression of the '30's.  With 25 percent of the town's workers unemployed and no governmental financial aid of any sort, the City's income fell to a low level.  Rather than have big layoffs, he cut salaries as low as possible and dept the employees on the payroll, paying all the City's obligations as he went.  For the City, he installed the clubhouse and park facilities at Lake Halbert.   Married to Bessie Ambrose, he lived at 1004 W. Third Avenue, operating local ice plants along with extensive land holdings, and had two sons, Wesley, Jr., and Ambrose.   He died November 26, 1970.

John C. Calhoun, October 1940 - April 1947

Elected in October 1940 when J. S. Murchison resigned, John C. Calhoun served the City as mayor for 6 years.  Born in Georgia Dec. 12, 1882, he came to Corsicana during the oil boom of the '20's and became a successful operator with his partner, Joe E. Butler in the firm of Butler & Calhoun, living at 1500 West Second Avenue.  Serving during World War II, when the supply of building materials was frozen, he was unable to expand the city services but was nevertheless a busy man.   He signed the contract with Air Activities, Inc., which brought an army flying and basic training field to Corsicana.  He negotiated with the Army and got a prison camp for German prisoners, located on the Calhoun property in southeast Corsicana.  In 1945 he obtained city bus service for Corsicana by a contract with Louis Joe Territo, with 10 cent fare to any part of town.  He had one daughter, Mrs. Suzanne George.  He died May 9, 1956 and was buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Corsicana, TX

See Also:


Hubert Thomas Braselton, April 1947 - April 1951

Born in Corsicana in 1901, and an independent oil operator, he was 46 years old when elected mayor, still lives at 1301 West Fifth Avenue, is married to Virginia Carter, a former school teacher, with two grown children, Clair and Carter.   He had a busy 4 year term, reevaluated the city property for taxes, held a City Charter election in which the voters decided to separate school tax office.  He extended the city limits substantially in several directions.  The Drane property and Zions Rest came in peaceably, but litigation was necessary to bring in the remainder.   But the annexed property increased the city population from 15,000 to 20,000, indicating that the city had outgrown its old limits some years previously.  By another charter amendment, the city tax rate was set with a limit of 84 cents per $100.00 evaluation for operational costs, 5 cents per $100.00 for library expenses, and a sufficient amount to pay principal and interest on bonds, with total tax limitation set at $2.50 per $100.00 evaluation.  Under his leadership on July 3 & 4, 1948, the City celebrated its Centennial, or 100th birthday, with a big parade, a barbecue at the city park, and a speech by Gov. Beauford H. Jester.  In 1950 he installed two modern swimming pools, one in the city park and one on East Sixth Avenue.  Asked what part of being mayor he liked best, he said the best day of his life was the day he retired as mayor and that might be understandable, since so much of his work involved taxes, which is always a sore point but a necessary one.  He was a good mayor.

Notes:

  • Hubert passed away on Sept 1, 1992 in Navarro County Texas

Ben Franklin Blackmon Sr., April 1951 - April 1953

Born in Eureka, Texas, 1891, the son of a doctor, Ben Blackmon came to Corsicana as a young man and worked for Drane & McKie Garage, the Corsicana Grader & Machine Co., the Texas Company as bulk sales agent, and finally, as business manager for Hugh Drane.  Before becoming mayor, he had served 4 years as commissioner during '20's.  In his administration the Chaney Addition was taken into the city limits, Highway 75 was widened through Corsicana and the Government Housing Authority, including Northwest Apartments and East Side Apartments, were completed, in 1952, thereby giving low-rent housing to low-rent housing to low-income families.   Extensive water lines and sewer lines were laid.  Corsicana was in the grips of a drought and water shortage and, in order to alleviate the need, he procured the property for Lake Corsicana and constructed the lake.  He died Dec. 13, 1971, survived by his widow, Edith, and one son Ben, Jr.

Notes: 

  • Buried Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana - Section U, row 2.   
  • Served Tex-Sfc US Army World War I
  • TXDI: Blackmon Ben F 12-14-1970 NAVARRO M SINGLE
  • Married Edith Noble on 29 September 1920

Charles C. Sapp, April 1953 - April 1955

The next mayor, C. C. Sapp, was born Nov. 17, 1887, came to Corsicana in 1928 as a foreman with the Southern Pacific Railroad, lived with his wife Dagmar, at 1105 West Thirteenth Avenue.  Also he was a representative for one of the railroad labor unions.  Frequently involved in controversy, he was a rugged individualist and quite a character, was not averse to liquid stimulants or fisticuffs in the commission room, sometimes was crosswise with other law enforcement officers, was upset mainly because the pressure of local politics bothered him.  But he was a conscientious man and tried to do a good job.  In 1953 he installed the 500,000 gallon water tank in Zions Rest and dug an underground water storage tank on South 12th Street.  He pumped water out of Chambers Creek to Lake Corsicana and re-pumped it to Lake Halbert to meet the water shortage.  And he rebuilt the bridge on North Beaton Street.  He died Dec. 7, 1963.  A son, Charles, Jr., is a lawyer in Houston.

Notes:

  • Charles & Dagmar Sapp are buried at the Oakwood Cemetery, Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX:  Row 5 Section B.  Dagmar was born Feb 14, 1887 and died Jan 28, 1958.

Thomas Walter Erwin, Jr. April 1955 - April 1957

Walter Erwin is probably better known for his extensive real-estate transactions than for the two years he was mayor, but he has been good in both politics and business.  Born in Dallas, Texas, July 20, 1908, he came to Corsicanaabout 1936 and established the Erwin-Beasley Wholesale Grocery with Lonnie Beasley.   He married and brought to Corsicana a most attractive wife, Ruth Peevy of Dallas, and they have three grown sons, Ed, Walter III, and Wilson.  He resides at 1441 Oaklawn.  With two years prior service as a commissioner, he was 46 years old when elected mayor in 1955.  Oil operators were re-drilling the old Corsicana shallow field and, as mayor, he issued 700 permits to drill shallow wells in east Corsicana.  In line with the integration movement, he hired the first negro policeman, Earnest Davis.   Construction was begun on the new outfall sewer plant on Postoak Creek.   Traffic was becoming heavy on Seventh Avenue, so he widened and repaved it.   which was easier said than done, because water, light, gas, and sewer lines had to be re-laid, and parkways were cut into heavily to widen the streets.  He built two fire substations, one on West 2nd Avenue and the other at Zion's Rest.  Probably his best achievement was the successful vote on the Charter Amendment of July 10, 1956, providing for a City Manager.  Up to this time, mayors and commissioners did all the administrative work, but a new system had come into being, that of the city manager, who was the full-time administrator and handled nearly all of the business, subject to the approval of the Commission.  Morgan Works was appointed the first city manager.   Two years as a commissioner and two years as mayor were enough political service for Erwin, and he retired to go back into full time real estate, in which he excels.

Notes:

  • Thomas Walter passed away Feb 19, 1990 in Navarro County TX

J. Thomas Eady, April 1957 - April 1959

Tom Eady was born in Eureka, Texas, was 49 years old when elected and has been the city's only bachelor mayor.  He had previously been commissioner for two years.  A partner in the general insurance firm of Cooper Eady & Judson, he was a very capable executive.  Since the city manager was a new man, and commissioners has been in the habit of doing the administrative work, they wanted to continue running the City and very begrudgingly let the manager do what he was supposted to do, so the mayor had a difficult job supporting the new city manager, and this opposition continued for about 12 years, with 2 managers involved.  Fortunately the city manager is no longer a political issue.  Mayor Eady met with the government engineers on preliminary talks regarding the Navarro Mills Lake to be constructed later.   Also the City's outfall sewer line and plant were completed in 1957.  He constructed a fire department substation on South 2nd Street.  Mayor Eady lives at 1024 N. 24th Street, is still active and takes an interest in politics and public affairs.

Robert S. Reading, April 1959 - April 1965

Mayor Bob Reading was born in Richmond, Texas, in 1889, graduated in Electrical Engineering at Texas A. & M., serving there a short time as a professor.  Joining the Long Star Gas Co., he came to Corsicana as local manager and, on retiring, entered city politics.  He was commissioner 1957 - 1958, was elected mayor in 1959.  During 1962 the first city zoning ordinance was passed.  Most important was the contract with the federal government for the construction of Navarro Mills Lake, which solved the city water problems for years to come.  Less than one month after his third mayoral election in 1963, he suffered a stroke which incapacitated him in the performance of duty.  Mayor-Pro-Tempore Herbert Johnson served the first year and Mayor-Pro-Tempore Dave Campbell served the second year, substituting for the disabled mayor.  In 1964 Corsicana Traffic Code was brought out at this time.   Mayor Reading was active in civic affairs.  He attended the Texas Municipal League sessions, the U. S. Conference of Mayors meetings, and the World Conference of Mayors meeting in Brussels, Belgium, in 1963.  He was a president of the local Community Chest, the Salvation Army, and belonged to the Chamber of Commerce, Boy scouts Circle 10, Phi Theta Kappa Fraternity at Navarro Junior College, was a writer and a noted collector of Indian arrowheads, having given a very large collection of arrowheads to Navarro Junior College.  He died May 31, 1971 in Navarro County.  His widow, Goldie Reading, still lives in the family home at 1312 Ficklin.


Dr. Calvin David Campbell, April 1965 - April 1967

Dave Campbell was one of the City's youngest mayors, being 34 years old when elected.  He had been a commissioner the two previous years, during the latter of which he was Mayor-Pro-Tem because of Bob Reading's absence.  Born in Crowell, Texas, he came to Corsicana as a medical doctor and, while busy in his profession, still found time to be an active and aggressive mayor.  The election of 1966, under his leadership, provided the Civil Service Code for Policemen and Firemen, a street paving program which especially benefited east Corsicana, and the construction of a new library.  He purchased land for Navarro Mills Lake, and added to the Park system, set up a Bi-Racial committee, passed a housing code which set out minimum standards for construction and provisions on electricity and plumbing.  An Animal and Dog-Leash Law was passed and modern garbage equipment was purchased.  Among his activities he has been most prominent in YMCA work and in Civil Aviation. Dr. Campbell and his wife, Margaret Ann, live at 2010 Mimosa Dr. and have three children, Charlotte Ann, Charles David, and Carolyn.  He was a good mayor and is still a very active citizen.

Hermon Lorenzo Roberts, April 1967 - 1969

Hermon Roberts, a native of Ladonia, Fannin County, Texas, was a 68-year-old retired mechanical engineer when elected mayor.  A graduate of Texas A. & M., he had been Cadet Corps Commander, president of his senior class, and a football player.  He had successfully managed the Oil City Iron Works through the bottom of the depression days.  As mayor, he held a special election in which the voters approved a City Sales Tax, also new traffic signal lights.  The new public library building was completed during his administration.  Also Navarro Mills Lake and its installations were finished, thus providing a 11,700-acre lake with 212,000 acre feet of water, thus taking care of Corsicana's water needs.  He had a quick wit.   At one commission meeting a woman heckler asked: "What is the matter with you, Mayor, are you crazy?"  He replied: "I suppose so.  Anybody who would take on this job of mayor is bound to be crazy."  The Oil City Iron Works still uses him in an advisory capacity.  He and his wife, Bessie, live at 1012 W. Third Avenue and have three grown children, Sam, Dan, and Mrs. Mary Ann Grigsby.

Notes:

  • Brian P. Roberts wrote us that his grandfather, Hermon Lorenzo Roberts, passed away  in September of 1992 in Lyons, Rice County, Kansas, where his son was living for a while.  He was laid to rest at the Oakwood Cemetery, in Corsicana, Navarro Co., TX.

William Polk Murchison, April 1969 - April 1971

I happened to be the next mayor.  I was born in Corsicana June 5, 1908, the son of the 20th Mayor, J. S. Murchison. By profession, I am a finance company manager.  For activities, I am a Methodist, a veteran of World War II, a member of the Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, local Historical Society and the Texas Ex-Students Association.   My wife, Dorothy, a local school teacher, and I live at 1915 West Sycamore and we have three grown children, William P., Jr., Frank, and Mrs. Ann Green.  I served as city commissioner in 1966, '67, and '68 and was elected mayor in 1969.  As mayor, I continued the street paving program in East Corsicana, widened North Beaton Street, and completed the Postoak bridge on North Commerce.  The city limits were extended to include the new high school area and the James King addition north of the Emhouse Road.   A new minimum Standard Housing Code was written, requiring substandard houses to be repaired or torn down.  Bookkeeping in the Water Department was put on machine records.  A contract of $1,600,000.00 was let for the construction of additional low rent housing in 1970.  To comply with State laws, in 1970, the voting wards were increased from four to nine.  In January, 1971, the city planner, Mr. Marvin Springer of Dallas, completed the long range comprehensive master plan for Corsicana.  The Commission passed the portion pertaining to zoning, and I appointed groups to study the other recommendations.

Notes:


Verna Sue (Davis) Youngblood, April 1971 - 1974

Corsicana elected its first woman mayor in April 1971, Mrs. Sue Youngblood, wife of Jack Youngblood and a member of the Youngblood Insurance Agency.   They live at 2029 Glenwood Circle and have two sons, Gary and David.  Born in Navarro County and with three years prior service as a commissioner, she was 45 years old on becoming mayor, has been aggressive in her programs and has spent a substantial amount of time on the job.   She was instrumental in getting a bond issue passed to finance major provisions of the comprehensive master plan including water, sewer, street, and drainage improvements along with a new government center.  Under her administration the City in 1973, won the Governor's Community Achievement Award for having accomplished the most toward community beautification and improving environmental quality.   She has used these funds to expand the scope and quality of city services.   She has a highly visible Mayor and has never feared controversy.  She once resigned her position in a dispute with the City Commission, but retracted it before the Commission could accept it.  She has a knack for politics, is at home in the business world and continues as our present mayor, having been re-elected in 1975 for a third term.

Notes:

  • Sue was born Oct 21, 1926 and passed away on Sept 3, 1996
  • Obituary

Jack McFerran - 1981 - 1983

Obituary;
World War II

 


 

Wilson GriffinFour terms, ending in May 2001

OBITUARY/ BIOGRAPHY

April Sikes

Resigned Aug 7, 2003 after the City Council fired City Manager city manager Truitt Gilbreath.  Biography.

J. Waterman


Buster Brown

Notes:

 


Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox