WILL STITH is a typical American business man, alert, enterprising and progressive, and his history is notable in that he owes his advancement entirely to his own efforts. Not only his financial success but his education has been acquired through his own efforts and his life record proves the value and the sure reward of character. Forty years ago he came to Texas when there were no railroads in the state, except a little spur of the Galveston, Houston and San Antonio line, running between Galveston, Harrisburg and Houston. His parents were Richard M. and Harriet C. (Furguson) Stith. The maternal grandparents lived at Mount Sterling, Kentucky. The grandfather owned the site upon which the city has been built. Mrs. Stith was born in Kentucky and Richard M. Stith was also a native of that state, although his parents were Virginians. They became the parents of ten children, although several of the family died in childhood. The year 1864 witnessed their arrival in Texas.
Richard M. Stith, the father, was a soldier in the Confederate army under General Price and at the close of the war he, with others, was induced to join Price on a trip to Mexico, but on reaching San Antonio, Texas, Mr. Stith decided to remain there and did so until the occupation of the city by Federal troops, when he removed to Galveston, where he made his home until his death, which occurred in 1866. Galveston was a mere village when he located there, but it has grown from a small place to a city with brick buildings, pavements and other modern improvements. Will Stith was born in Jackson county, Missouri, April 24, 1856, but the family were driven out of the country by Quantrell and his men, who hid in the hills in that part of the state. His boyhood days were therefore passed in Galveston, the family taking refuge in that city, and he acquired the education in the face of many difficulties, earning the money which enabled him to pursue his studies in private schools of that city until he was fifteen years of age. He afterward engaged in clerking a wholesale and retail grocery house for eight years and during that time, ambitious to obtain a good education, he attended school at night, becoming a student in a commercial college. Later he obtained a position as bookkeeper with the firm of Clark & Courts, opening for them their first set of books. They were stationers and printers and with them he remained for eight years, when becoming tired of working on a salary and seeing that advancement in that way could come but slowly, he resolved to engaged in business for himself and removed to Abilene.
Here Mr. Stith turned his attention to the real estate and insurance business, in which he has since been engaged, being now the senior partner of the firm of Will Stith & Company. They have a large clientage and do a gratifying business in both departments, the firm being a strong and reliable one, their name having become a synonym for honesty and square dealing. They transact a business equaled by few firms for individuals in their line in Abilene and the efforts in the sale of property have contributed in substantial measure to the improvement of the city. Mr. Stith is decidedly a man of affairs. One cannot be in this presence long without feeling his alert, energetic manner. He has the ability to quickly recognize an opportunity and to utilize it, and furthermore he has made for himself a honored name in connection With all business transactions. In addition to his business in Abilene, he has for a few years owned an interest in a cattle ranch in El Paso county, Texas.
Mr. Stith was married, in 1887, to Miss Eula P. Thompson, of Chapel Hill, Washington county, this state. He belongs to the Episcopal church although he was reared a Methodist, and he is a member of the Star of the West Lodge No. 43, K. of P., of Abilene, in which he has filled all the chairs. He is indeed a self-made man. Thrown upon his own resources at a very early age through the exigencies of the war, maintaining in his won support while attending school, he has in the business world constantly worked his way upward form the ranks of the many to stand among the successful few, following methods that neither seek nor require disguise, and at the same time making steady and definite progress toward that success which is the goal of all business endeavor.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 392-393.