HON. THOMAS TRAMMELL. In the life record of Hon. Thomas Trammell we have a notable example of the old adage “It is poverty that makes the world rich.” His life is also an exemplification of the maxim of Epicharmus, the Greek philosopher, who said, “Earn thy reward: The gods give naught to sloth.” Without special family or pecuniary advantages to aid him in his youth Thomas Trammell has made steady and consecutive progress undeterred by obstacles and difficulties that he has met until he stands today among the successful and prominent citizens of western Texas, being a leading representative of that cattle industry and also connected with banking interests in this part of the state. He likewise has extensive railroad possessions and has been the promoter of railroad transportation in this part of the state.
Philip Trammell, father of Thomas Trammell, was born in Arkansas, near the town of Van Buren, and in early life was left an orphan, so that he had to win his own way in the world. He grew to manhood in that locality, and after attaining his majority was married there to Miss Ruanna Stevenson, who was also a native of Arkansas. He came to Texas with his family in 1852 and settled in Navarro county, then a new country, in which he was engaged in the cattle business. He drove cattle from Navarro county to the mouth of the Red river and thence shipped them by boat to New Orleans. There were no railroads in operation in those days, and the travel was along the trails whereby all commodities of the country were transported to and from market. When the Civil war was inaugurated Philip Trammel was too old to enter the service, being more than forty-five years of age, but realizing the importance of lending his assistance to the Confederacy in whatever way he could entered the militia service in Texas known as the Home Guard for the protection of the property and families of those who had gone to the front. The Indians committed many depredations and a rough element of the white race also infested the country, taking advantage of conditions in order to gain unlawfully what really belonged to others.
When the war closed in 1865 Philip Trammell took a herd of cattle to Louisiana, but while at Alexandria was taken ill and was unable to proceed farther on the journey. His son Thomas was then summoned and went to his relief, taking the cattle on to New Orleans, where he sold them. He then brought his father back to his home, but he never recovered and passed away on the last day of December, 1865. His widow lived to a good old age and died in 1903, at the home of her son F. P. Trammell in Hemphill county, Texas. She was the mother of nine children, five sons and four daughters. Those of the family who still survive are: Dennis, who is living in Stonewall county, Texas, near the Fisher county line; Frank P., of Hemphill county; Phillip, who is living in Oklahoma near the Texas boundary line; Thomas, of Sweetwater, Texas; Martha, the wife of J. J. Newman of Fisher county, this state; Elizabeth, who is the widow of J. A. Tankersley, and is also living in Fisher county; and Prudie, the wife of G. W. McLain, who resides near Rush Springs, Indian Territory.
Thomas Trammell, whose name introduces this record, was born in Arkansas, June 22, 1848, and was reared upon a ranch surrounded by all the environments that to make up a typical western country. His knowledge of the range and the best methods of handling cattle was acquired in early life, and for many years he followed that pursuit with its attendant excitement, thrilling experiences and interests. As a cowboy he was in the camp and on the trail and thus acquired a knowledge that proved the foundation of his future business success. His father at one time was a well-to-do man and the owner of many cattle and negroes, but as the result of the war the lost all of his property and the family was greatly reduced in financial circumstances. Following the death of his father, Thomas Trammell, being the eldest son, assumed the management of the home place and the care of his mother and the younger children of the family. Later he managed through some of his dealings to obtain possession of a small herd of cattle and thus made a start in life for himself.
In 1872 was celebrated the marriage of Thomas Trammell and Miss Mary J. Newman, a daughter of Martin Newman of Nolan county, Texas. During the first year of his married life he made his home with his father-in-law and afterward bought and improved a place of his own. He resided in Navarro county until 1881, when he came to Nolan county, settling in Sweetwater in 1883. In that year he sold his place in Navarro county and transferred all of his interests to the new locality. In the early summer of 1883, in connection with R. L. McCaulley and Joe Bunton, he organized a private bank in Sweetwater, under the firm name of Thomas Trammell & Co. This institution has continued to do business in Sweetwater to the present time and is one of the leading banking institutions in the west. Mr. Trammell, however, has always considered his banking interests as a side issue because of the extent and scope of his other business interests. He has been extensively engaged in the cattle business, and has invested and dealt largely in land. He is recognized as one of the large cattle dealers of this portion of the state and his ranch property amounts to about eleven thousand acres in Scurry and Borden counties. He likewise has a ranch in New Mexico which covers a great area and is devoted exclusively to cattle. Beside this he has valuable business and residence property in Sweetwater.
Another business enterprise of Mr. Trammell, which has been of great value to the country as well as to himself, is his railroad interests. He and his partner, Mr. McCaulley, came into possession of the Colorado Valley Railroad in the fall of 1898, and the following year made a contract with A. E. Stilwell, of Kansas City, president of the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad, by which agreement this road became a part of the Orient system. Mr. Trammell is a director of the Orient company in Texas, and is treasurer. The Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad begins at Kansas City and extends southwest, passing through Wichita, Kansas, and crossing a portion of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and the republic of Mexico, its terminus being at Topolobambo bay on the western coast of Mexico, a total distance of sixteen hundred miles. It is about five hundred miles nearer from Kansas City by the Orient road to the Pacific then it is from that point to any other port on the Pacific coast. It thus opens a new highway to the ocean and is a short line for the Orient trade—China, Japan and the Philippine Islands. For years it has been the dream of railroad promoters to build a road opening up the great southwest and it was A. E. Stilwell who evolved the great plan and carried it forward, great benefits accruing to the state of Texas from the constructive of this important line of commerce. The value of this road to the southwest cannot be over estimated and time alone will demonstrate its full worth. All who have been instrumental in helping to secure an enterprise of this magnitude and carry it forward to completion deserve the grateful consideration of the people of the west.
Mr. Trammell makes his home in Sweetwater and his residence is a model of architectural beauty and modern improvements. It is tastefully and even luxuriantly furnished and is a most happy home. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Trammell have been born three sons: J. P., who is now in Jones county; W. T., who is cashier of the Trammell bank of Sweetwater; and B. A., who is manager of his father’s ranch in New Mexico.
Mr. Trammell was made a Mason in Spring Hill lodge No. 155, A. F. & A. M., in Navarro county shortly after attaining his majority, and took the Royal Arch degrees in an old log house in Corsicana, Texas, during the early history of that town. He was also one of nine men who organized the Knight Templars at Texarkana, Texas. He has likewise attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish rite at Galveston, and is a member of Hella Temple of the Mystic Shrine in Dallas. Perhaps the most notable element in the life record of Mr. Trammell is the fact that he has constantly enlarged the scope of his interests, has continually sought out new plans and methods and has extended his efforts until he is now in control of very extensive and important business enterprises. He likewise belongs to that class of representative American men who while promoting their individual success have also contributed in large measure to the general prosperity and progress. Honored and respected by all, there is no man in western Texas who occupies a more enviable position in the regard of his fellow men than Thomas Trammell.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 529-531.