THOMAS EDWARD POWELL, whose name figures prominently in connection with the banking interests of Callahan county and western Texas and whose efforts in business life have been of material benefit to his fellow men as well as a source of individual profit, how makes his home in Baird and is president of the Home National Bank. He is also proprietor of a large mercantile enterprise, dealing in clothing, shoes and hats and also general dry goods, and this store has become one of the leading commercial centers of Callahan county.
A native of Kentucky, Mr. Powell was born in Louisville on the 15th of July, 1859, his parents being Thomas and Anna (Gallager) Powell, both of whom were of Irish descent. The father was reared by well-to-do parents and for many years was a dry goods merchant in Louisville, while later he conducted a similar enterprise at LaGrange, Kentucky. The last years of his life was passed in Baird, Texas, where he died in 1900. His widow still survives him and is now living in Baird. They reared a family of eight children, six sons and two daughters, all of whom are now living and the sons occupy prominent positions in business life in their respective localities.
Thomas E. Powell was reared in Louisville, Kentucky, where he attended the public schools. At the age of fifteen years he began conducting a store in LaGrange, Kentucky, but after two years sold out to his father and turned his attention to railroading in the bridge and building department of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. He followed this for nine years and became superintendent of bridge building of the first division out of New Orleans for this company, occupying the position for four and a half years. His health then failed, causing his resignation and he removed to Texas. About this time, in 1885, he was married to Miss Amanda A. Gray, of Louisville, Kentucky.
With his bride Mr. Powell removed to the Lone Star state, locating at Baird, Callahan county, where he became identified with mercantile interests as a dealer in clothing, shoes and hats on a small scale. His patronage, however, constantly increased and he enlarged his stock to meet the growing demands of his trade. Later he extended the fields of his operations by the establishment of a dry goods department and although there have been hard times in Texas occasioned by the droughts of 1886-7 Mr. Powell has by unremitting diligence, careful management and close application built up a large and growing business, to which he has constantly made additions until he now carries a stock valued at sixty thousand dollars. It is by far the largest business house in Baird and the trade is the most extensive carried on between Fort Worth and El Paso, the sales of 1904 amounting to one hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars, while his minimum sales during the last ten years have amounted to one hundred and ten thousand dollars. In the meantime Mr. Powell, in 1900, organized the Home National Bank with a capital stock of twenty-five thousand dollars, which carries deposits of over one hundred and eighty-seven thousand dollars. Mr. Powell is president of the bank and in 1904 he also organized the Bank of Clyde and likewise the Bank of Cross Plains. Of both of these he is likewise president and they are all flourishing financial institutions doing a prosperous business. Each bank carries a deposit of forty thousand dollars. In 1901 Mr. Powell became one of the organizers of the Texas Cotton Company capitalized for thirty thousand dollars with headquarters at Abilene, Texas, with a capital stock of fifteen thousand dollars and of this enterprise he is likewise president. Mr. Powell also owns considerable farming land in Callahan county, much of which is under cultivation and he likewise has a small mercantile store at Cross Plains which is doing a good business.
The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Powell has been blessed with eight children, two sons and six daughters, namely: Ada L., Robert Gray, Jennie Belle, Jessie, Leota, Luzon, Irma and Carlton. Mr. Powell has been a Mason since 1881, joining the order in Louisville but taking this third degree in Texas. Since that time he has taken the various degrees of the York and Scottish rites, becoming a Knight Templar and Consistory Mason. He belongs to the Royal Arch chapter of Baird, to the commandery at Abilene, to the consistory at Galveston and to the Mystic Shrine at Dallas. Mr. Powell is likewise a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity and the Woodmen of the World and has been a member of the Methodist church from the age of sixteen years. For fourteen years he has been a teacher in the Sunday school and also Sunday school superintendent and during that entire time has never been absent from school on Sunday mornings save on a few occasions when he was away from home on business. His life has been honorable, his actions manly and sincere and at all times his career has been actuated by high and noble principles. He is a leading figure in business circles of western Texas and gives to his business his close and unremitting attention, regarding no detail as too unimportant to receive his supervision, while at the same time he gives due attention to the more important concerns of his extensive business interests. His record as a merchant and banker is such as any man might be proud to possess and he enjoys the unqualified regard and trust of his contemporaries. He has worked his way steadily upward from a humble position to one of affluence and is now controlling important financial and mercantile concerns. He also takes great pride in advancing the interests of his home town and is liberal in his donations to charity and the church. He is likewise an active supporter of the cause of temperance in all of its forms and his contributions to religious work and cooperation therein have done much to promote the moral advancement of the community. In social life he is genial and courteous and has won the esteem and confidence of his patrons, his friends and the community at large.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 430-431.