CORWIN F. DOAN, farmer, merchant, and for many years the most prominent leader in affairs at Doans and for many miles of territory in that vicinity, has had a career in business and public life in North Texas which marks him out as a most forceful and successful character. His enterprising ambition led him to this country long before its agricultural possibilities had been given any attention and even before the big cattle rangers had thoroughly established themselves. The town of Doans, in the northern part of Wilbarger county, is the oldest settlement within many miles and for a long time was the foremost one, until the railroads passed it to one side and diminished its commercial importance. Mr. Doan besides being the founder and energizing spirit of this well known trading post had also exerted his influence in many other ways, and has long been a factor of stability and worth in his county. He is a public- spirited citizen, and his community may be congratulated that he has yet many years of life before him which to continue his work in the different affairs of life.
He is a native Ohioan, having been born in Wilmington, Clinton county, in 1848. He belongs to a distinguished family, and his ancestry contains some noteworthy names, Bishop Doan, of New York, is of the same stock. The original family seat was in Cheshire, England, whence there came to America in the year 1629 Deacon John Doan, who landed at Plymouth and proceeded to identify himself closely with the religious and social life of New England. But the branch of which Mr. C. F. Doan is a continuation became connected with the more southerly colonies, particularly North Carolina. There is an interesting family coat of arms, bearing the inscription, “Crux mihi Lux”—”The Cross is my Light.” North Carolina was the birthplace of Mr. Doan’s grandfather, Jonathan Doan,who settled in Clinton county, Ohio, in 1798, among the pioneers of the Buckeye state.
Clinton county, Ohio, has been the scene of the achievements of the Doan family for over a century, and for something over eighty years has been the home and birthplace of General Azariah W. Doan, a distinguished legist, soldier and citizen, whose son is the Wilbarger county business man. General Doan’s worthy career extends back to ante-bellum days, when as a lawyer at Wilmington he was the partner of Hon. Frank Corwin, a brother of Governor Tom Corwin. Upon the breaking out of the civil war Azariah Doan received a commission as first lieutenant in the Twelfth Ohio Infantry, in which he served during his three months’ enlistment. He was next an officer of the Seventh-ninth Ohio, and through rapid promotions reached the rank of brigadier general, after commanding his regiment for more than two years. He was in Hooker’s Corps, the Army of the Tennessee, and took part in the fighting preceding and during the siege and fall of Atlanta, thence went with Sherman’s army to the sea, up through the Carolinas, and ended with the grand review of the victorious army at Washington. When the war was over he resumed his law practice at Wilmington, and although he is now more than eighty years of age he still devotes himself with much of his old-time zeal and energy to the law in that place. He was judge of the court of common pleas for fifteen years, and was also a member of the state legislature from Clinton county. He is a man of great public spirit and public usefulness, and is held in the highest esteem throughout his county. The wife of General Doan was Miss Amanda Stratton, of a Virginia family, and she died during the ’50s.
Although General Doan has from early manhood followed the profession of law, he also during the first part of his career owned and operated a farm in Clinton county, and it was on this farm that the son Corwin F. was reared and grew to manhood. He received a good common school education, and as all his faculties and ambitions tended toward commercial life he went into mercantile business on his own account at Wilmington when he was eighteen years old. He continued his enterprise there until he was about twenty-six years old. In 1874 he embraced an opportunity to come to Fort Sill, Indian Territory (now in Oklahoma), and start in business as an Indian trader. This was a very prosperous venture, although it was also attended with great personal danger, and the year 1874 is remembered by all old-time southwesterners as an especially bloody one in the Indian warfare about Fort Sill. Mr. Doan was in business there a little more than three years. On October 10, 1878, he located in the northern part of Wilbarger county, Texas, within a mile of the Red river, and established there a large trading post. This trade center received the name of Doans, and has been the home of Mr. Doan every since. He was the first merchant in Wilbarger county and a pioneer in every sense of the word. Twenty-five years ago not only was there no farming in progress in this portion of the state, but event he cattle business was in its infancy. For these reason, the trading post of Doans was during the first few years a commercial oasis in a vast desert, furnishing supplies to the comparatively few inhabitants and to the transients of their way from one place to another in the southwest. But soon after the establishment of this trading post quite a settlement grew up about it, and in 1879 the postoffice of Doans was established, being given this name by the postoffice department. Then in the early ’80s this country began to boom, a farming population was gradually displacing the cattlemen, and by 1885 Doans rejoiced in nearly three thousand inhabitants. That was the high tide of prosperity. The Fort Worth & Denver Railroad was building across northwest Texas, but contrary to expectations went to the south of Doans. The wave of population followed in the wake of the time being, and Vernon became the boom town instead of Mr. Doan’s settlement.
Mr. Doan had his store in a large double building, and the firm of C. F. Doan & Company did a flourishing business. With the opening up of the town of Vernon the firm established a branch store there, and the trade of the two houses extended in a radius of seventy miles around, requiring many freighting teams to handle it, in fact, when the business was at hits height, enough teams and wagons could not be procured. Staple supplies of bacon, flour, etc., were bought in carload lots, an Doans became the headquarters for the large outfitting expeditions of the trail and for the increasing cattle industry of north and northwest Texas. After 1888 there was a marked decrease in the prosperity of Doans and in the business of C. F. Doan & Company, on account of the lack of railroad facilities, and from that time Dr. Doan began to devote his attention to farming, which has since been his principal industry. However, he still continues a small general store at Doans in connection with the postoffice, both of which are in charge of his daughter, Mrs. Bertha Ross. Mr. Doan on first settling at his present locality, had secured several hundred acres of fine farming land, and he now owns twelve hundred acres in the fertile Red river valley. Most of this he rents, retaining about two hundred acres for his own farming purposes, on which his principal crops are corn and cotton. He has also been more or less engaged in the cattle business since settling here.
Mr. Doan has been and is a man of great prominence and influence in his community and in Wilbarger county from its earliest organization. He was postmaster of Doans for nine years, and for many years has been justice of the peace and is still serving as such.
Mr. Doan was married at Wilmington, Ohio, in 1871 to Miss Lida E. Whinnery, who was born and reared in Clinton county, Ohio. Besides the daughter Mrs. Bertha Ross, mentioned above, they had a daughter, Miss Mabel, and a son, Lee, died in 1892.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 237-239.