William Lafayette Blanton biography

HON. WILLIAM LAFAYETTE BLANTON. Prominent as a representative of the Texas bar and one of the most influentially active members of the state legislature, Hon. W. L. Blanton, of Gainesville, was born at Unionville, Bedford county, Tennessee, December 28, 1851. A career of unusual usefulness both from a public and individual standpoint has been afforded him, and thirty years of practice at Gainesville has given him prestige as a leader of the North Texas legal fraternity.

Well anchored in the past as well as in the present, Mr. Blanton comes of a family whose connections are of historic interest and the worth and integrity of whose individual members have been rigidly upheld for many generations. He is a son of Captain William C. and Elizabeth (Tilford) Blanton, of an old Tennessee family. His father, born in Tennessee in 1817, was, prior to 1861, largely engaged in the manufacture of wagons and buggies, and thereby became wealthy. During the war he organized a company and captained the same in the Twenty-third Tennessee Infantry. After the war he served as tax collector of Bedford county two terms, was county trustee one term, and died at Unionville, in October, 1887, one of the most esteemed and universally admired citizens of that part of the state. He was a Master Mason, an Odd Fellow and a member of the Methodist church. The Blantons came to Tennessee from Virginia, grandfather Meredith Blanton having been born in Lynchburg, that state. As a soldier in the war of 1812 he had been wounded and for many years was a pensioner. He lived to the extreme age of ninety-four, passing away in 1874, while his wife, Nancy (Crisp) Blanton, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, died at the age of ninety. Captain Blanton’s wife was born in Bedford county, Tennessee, and died at Unionville in 1895.

Mr. Blanton spent his early youth in his native county, receiving his education in Unionville Academy. He gained entrance into the legal profession entirely by his own efforts, and independence, resourcefulness and industrious application have been the qualities which have brought him to the front in his career. In 1870 he came to Texas, being then a youth of nineteen, and since 1873 has been permanently located at Gainesville. He took up his law studies in the office of his brother, Judge Elisha A. Blanton, who had come to Texas in the same year with him. He passed satisfactory examinations and was admitted to the bar in January, 1874, and in the following March began practice at Henrietta, Clay county, where, however, he remained only one year, returning then to Gainesville. In 1880 he was elected the first city attorney of Gainesville after the formation of its city government, and by subsequent elections he served in that capacity six years. Formerly he was a law partner of Judge J. M. Wright, and is now associated with T. M. Bosson in the strong firm of Blanton & Bosson, whose general law practice is one of the best in this part of the state.

In 1904 Mr. Blanton was elected a representative in the Twenty-ninth Texas legislature, and the record he has made in that honorable body shows how well he deserved the confidence of the people at the polls and also proves the value of a man of first-class ability and broad knowledge in the halls of state legislation. He is a member of the judiciary committee No. 1, perhaps the most important committee of the house, and also of the committees on private corporations, on state affairs, municipal corporations, and stock and stock-raising. His most noteworthy work in the session was as joint author of the well known Bank Bill, called the Webb-Shannon-Blanton Bank Bill, which provides for the establishment of state banks (which do not now exist in Texas), with capitals from ten to fifty thousand dollars; also providing for savings banks and trust companies, the object being.to provide banking institutions that can handle matters outside of the jurisdiction of national banks, thus facilitating business, and also for the promotion of thrift and economy arising from the establishment of savings banks. This bill passed both house and senate. Mr. Blanton also introduced in the hour a pure-food bill, a measure of conceded value to the people of the state, and which was passed by the house and favorably reported in the senate, but failed of final passage, being crowded out in the closing rush. Another measure introduced by Mr. Blanton and passed is the cocaine bill, regulating the sale of narcotics, cocaine and morphine. An important measure which he prepared and secured its passage through the house, but which failed to get through the senate, was the bill to regulate the sale and redemption of railroad tickets, the object being to lessen the restrictions and technicalities attached to railroad tickets, providing for the redemption of unused portions of tickets and making them good for use by any one. This is a much needed law, and if placed on the statute books would confer immeasurable benefit upon the great traveling public.

October 7, 1884, Mr. Blanton married Miss Sarah E. Allen, of St. Louis. She was the daughter of George O. and Julia O. (Whitney) Allen, both representing old and prominent American families. Her father was born in Boston in 1826, accompanied his parents to St. Louis in 1838, and, becoming an architect by profession, planned and built some of the handsomest edifices of St. Louis. He died in that city in 1870, leaving two children, Mrs. Blanton and Rev. Lyman W. Allen. The latter, a graduate of Princeton and for several years pastor of a Presbyterian church in St. Louis, is now pastoral head of the South Park Presbyterian church, the most prominent congregation of that denomination in Newark, New Jersey, and he now ranks among the leading divines of the Presbyterian church in this country. Mrs. Blanton’s mother, who married George O. Allen in New York City in 1853, was a daughter of Rev. Dewey and Mildred R. (Thornton) Whitney. Her father, a graduate of Yale and also a Presbyterian clergyman, was born in Marlborough, Vermont, and was the son of Jonas Whitney, a soldier of the Revolutionary War; while her mother, Mildred Thornton, was a daughter of Colonel William Thornton, of Virginia, a solider in the war of 1812. Mrs. Blanton was, through her ancestral connections, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She attended school in St. Louis, and was a woman of high intellectual ideals and a factor in social affairs in her home city. Mrs. Blanton died August 2, 1905.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 144-146.