WILLIAM BENJAMIN WORSHAM. In this review it is our pleasure and privilege to present the life work of one whose identity with North and West Texas has spanned almost a third of a century and one whose connection with the vital affairs of this section has been at once prominent and conspicuous. The various phases of his diversified career mark him as one of the real and stable characters of this territory, and it is pride and achievement which prompts this modest reference to him whose name initiates this notice. In youth and early manhood accustomed to the rough usages of hard work, in middle and later life evolving and executing successful schemes for the promotion of his vast and growing financial interests, toward the evening of his career is still busy and in the enjoyment of the fruits which destiny ordained.
It was not ordered that Texas should give W. B. Worsham birth, it is sufficient that his conquests should occur in this state. His natal day was February 8, 1843, and his place Callaway county, Missouri. He is a son of William Talbert Worsham, who migrated to Missouri about 1835 from near Petersburg, Virginia, where his birth occurred in 1811. He devoted his life to the farm and died in Callaway in 1883. He married Minta Ann Stokes, who passed away in 1893, being the mother of the following children: Henry S., of Comanche county, Oklahoma; William B., Ditreon V., of Ada, Indian Territory. A son, Joseph A.,died in Henrietta as postmaster of the city under the first Cleveland administration. Two daughters, Mrs. Mary Wiley and Mrs. Eliza A. Johnson, died in Lawrence county, Missouri, leaving families.
A country school education was all that seemed in store for young Worsham on the farm, and the first year of the war he enlisted in the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry—as did also his older and younger brothers—for service in Capt. Samuel Roberts‘ Company, United States troops. He saw service around Springfield, Missouri, and in Arkansas and the Cherokee Nation and was discharged in 1865, being mustered out June thirtieth of that year.
The first half dozen years succeeding the war Mr. Worsham spent on the farm in his native county. Having an opportunity to exceed the profits of the farm in a wholly different line of work, he took advantage of it and engaged in railroad contract work. He did grading on the Union Pacific, built sixteen miles of the St. Louis and San Francisco at Pierce City, Missouri. He abandoned this business in 1868, came to Texas and engaged as a cattle drover between this state and Kansas. Baxter Springs and Coffeyville were his objective points and he shipped many cars of native beef from there to markets of the east. In 1876 he began ranching in Clay county. His success enabled him to purchase tracts of pasture land in this and Hardeman county. He first located to Cambridge but in 1880 removed to Hardeman county, where he acquired a ranch of some twenty-five thousand acres—to which he yet owns—as well as a vast tracts almost adjoining Henrietta, in Clay county, aggregating about forty thousand acres. His Hardeman county possessions extend into Foard county, and at one time, while a partner with J. R. Stephens, had some sixty thousand head of cattle on the range. In 1882 the partnership with Mr. Stephens was dissolved and since then Mr. Worsham has conducted his live stock business alone, having some ten thousand head of cattle on grass.
Some twenty years ago Mr. Worsham became attracted to banking as a business and took an interest in the Dallas National Bank. Later he acquired an interest in the Gainesville National and in the Henrietta National Bank, which latter went out of business in 1887. The bank of W. B. Worsham and Co. was organized by Mr. Worsham in 1898, in Henrietta, and is officered by W. B. Worsham as president, W. H. Featherston as vice president and F. B. Wyatt as cashier. Other capitalists and financiers are stockholders of the bank and it is universally regarded as durable and safe as the rock of Gilbraltar. Mr. Worsham is interested in the Exchange National Bank at Dallas- -a director in it; is a director in the Dallas Brewing Company and is extensively interested in the oil-mill and cotton-gin industries of Ardmore and Tishomingo, Indian Territory. His farming interests are also by no means small.
Mr. Worsham’s two children by marriage with Mettie G. Collins, whom he married in Pike county, Missouri, in 1875, are Leola P., wife of K. N. Hapgood, with the W. B. Worsham bank, of Henrietta, and Carl M., who married May Easley and resides on the Worsham ranch near Henrietta. Mrs. W. B. Worsham was born in 1854 and is a daughter of James M. Collins, a Virginia gentleman and farmer who passed away in Missouri.
While Mr. Worsham is strictly a businessman and can always find something to do, he has had some trifling diversions in politics. Contrary to the rule in Texas he is a Republican and has served his party as a delegate to state conventions. While he has attempted to achieve anything in politics he has achieved everything in business. As has been seen he holds a confidential relation to many strong financial institutions and enterprises and the formidable masters of Texas finance recognize in him a compeer worthy of his spurs.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 101-102.