Benjamin B. Cain, biography c. 1914
[from A History of Texas and Texans]
  Source: Johnson, Frank W. A History of Texas and Texans. Vol. III, p. 1577. Chicago: American Historical Association, 1914.

BEN B. CAIN. Not only as a representative member of the bar of the Lone Star state but also as one who has been prominently identified with railroad promotion and construction and other corporate enterprises which have had potent influence in connection with civic and industrial development and advancement in the state, is Mr. Cain entitled to specific recognition in this publication.

He is an enthusiast in connection with the manifold attraction and great resources of Texas, is concerned with important colonization and development enterprises and is vice president and general manager of the Gulf, Texas & Western Railroad Company.

Though he still gives his attention to the work of his profession, in a somewhat restricted way. he is best known as a promoter, and financial intermediary, with large and worthy achievement to his credit in the matter of organizing public-utility corporations and the financing of other concerns that in their operations tend to conserve the social and material progress of his home state. He maintains his offices in the Merchants' National Bank building in the city of Dallas, metropolis of northern Texas, and is known as one of the most loyal and progressive citizens of this favored section of the state.

Ben B. Cain gained hip rudimentary education in his native state and was a lad of ten years at the time of the family removal to Tyler, Texas, where he continued his studies in the public schools, in which he. made himself eligible for matriculation in the University of Kansas, at Lawrence, where he continued his higher academic studies for two years. After leaving the University Mr. Cain began reading law in the office of Hon. William S. Herndon, at Tyler, and made rapid and substantial progress in his assimilation of the involved science of jurisprudence, with the result that in 1880 he proved himself eligible for and was admitted to the Texas bar. He forthwith instituted the practice of his profession under most auspicious conditions, as he became associated with his honoerd preceptor, Mr. Herndon, under the firm name of Herndon & Cain.

In the early '80s Mr. Cain became an associate of Mr. Herndon and Messrs. Bonner and Williams, all representative citizens of Tyler, in the promotion and building of the Kansas & Gulf Short Line Railroad, extending from Tyler to the city of Lufkin, capital of Angelina county, Texas. Upon the incorporation of the company Mr. Cain became its secretary and assistant treasurer, and in this connection he gained his initial experience as a railroad builder. The line was eventually absorbed by the Cotton Belt Railroad Company and is now known as the Lufkin branch of that system.

Mr. Cain was born in Elmore county, Alabama, on the 22d of June, 1859, and is a son of Washington G., and Sarah (Butler) Cain, the former of whom was born in Tennessee and the latter in Alabama, where their marriage was solemnized. Washington Gray Cain was left an orphan when a mere boy, and through his own ability and earnest endeavors valiantly fought his way to decisive victory and worthy accomplishment and one of the world's workers. As a young man he engaged in mercantile pursuits in the state of Alabama, and there he wedded Miss Sarah Butler, a daughter of Lovick P. Butler, who later became one of the sterling pioneers of Texas, where he served in the state legislature and was otherwise influential in public affairs.

Washington G. Cain continued to maintain his home in Alabama until 1869, when he came with his family to Texas and established his residence at Tyler, the judicial center of Smith county. There he engaged in the general merchandise business and gained prestige as one of the leading business men of that section of the state, his energy, enterprise and fair dealings enabling him to build up a large and prosperous trade. He finally turned his attention to the banking business, and he was one of the organizers of the Tyler National Bank, of which he served as president for many years.

Mr. Cain continued in the active and successful practice of his profession at Tyler until 1907, since which time he has retained his residence and professional business headquarters in the city of Dallas. He was prominently concerned with the development and upbuilding of Tyler, where he expended his splendid initiative and executive powers with utmost liberality in connection with enterprises and measures tending to advance the best interests of the community. He is still the owner of the waterworks system of that city, as president of the Tyler Water Company, and is also president and one of the owners of the Tyler Sewer Company, which he organized. He was a charter member and a director of the Tyler Electric Light Company, and was the first president of the Tyler Car & Lumber Company, which represents one of the most important industrial enterprises in that section of the state.

In 1907 Mr. Cain assumed the post of legal adviser and general counsel of the newly organized Gulf, Texas & Western Railroad Company and when, in the following year, the proper financial support had been gained to the undertaking and the company had been duly incorporated under the laws of the state, Mr. Cain became its vice president and general manager, of which important office he has since continued the able and valued incumbent, with administrative functions that he has discharged with signal discrimination and success.

The company now has in operation a well equipped line between Salesville in Palo Pinto county and Seymour, the judicial center of Baylor county —- a distance of one hundred miles trackage over the W.M.W.& N.W. Railway to Mineral Wells and Weatherford. The charter of the corporation provides for the building of its line across the state from a point near Burns Ferry, Newton county, through Tyler and Dallas and thence westward into Mexico. Mr. Cain is also vice president and general manager of the Trinity Townsite Company, which owns and is developing all townsites along the line of the railroad just mentioned.

In 1910 he turned his attention to the organizing of a national bank in Dallas, and the results of his well ordered promotive work, in which he gained the co-operation of representative capitalists and business men of Dallas, find concrete showing in the corporation, in January, 1913, the Merchants National Bank, of which he is vice president and the chairman of the board of directors, and which bases its operation on a capital stock and surplus of $300,000. This bank, a valuable acquisition to the financial facilities of Dallas, initiated active business on the 24th of February, 1913, and gained at once a liberal and representative popular support.

Mr. Cain was first married, in 1881, to Miss Ellen M. Walker, daughter of Judge J. C. Walker, one of the most prominent citizens of Waco, Texas, also a niece of Judge W. H. Bonner, associate justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, and T. R., and J. H. Bonner, formerly bankers and leading citizens of Tyler. His eldest son, J. W. Cain, was born of this marriage and now survives his mother, who died in 1884.

In all that makes for civic loyalty and progressiveness Mr. Cain stands prominently in the front, and in 1909-10 he served as vice president and a director of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, of which he is one of the most active and valued members.

He is president of the Texas Commercial Secretaries' & Business Men's Association, and in March, 1913, was appointed chairman of the Finance Committee for the state of Texas for the Southern Settlement and Development Organization, a corporation chartered by act of the Legislature of the state of Maryland for the purpose of developing and colonizing the vacant lands of the southern states. A most popular figure in professional and business circles in his home city, even as he and his wife are prominent in the representative social activities of the community, Mr. Cain is an appreciative member of the Dallas Club, the Dallas Country Club and the Dallas Automobile Club.

In politics he accords unfaltering allegiance to the Democratic party, though never manifesting aught of desire for public office. Both he and his wife hold membership in various literary and civic associations, their attractive home being at 5023 Reiger Avenue, in the city of Dallas, where they delight in extending hospitality to their wide circle of friends.

In 1890 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Cain to Miss Belle M. Chrisp, who was born and reared in Tennessee and whose father, Benjamin Chrisp, was for many years a representative business man and influential citizen of Memphis, Tennessee, where he died. His widow finally removed to Los Angeles, California, where she still maintains her home. Mr., and Mrs. Cain have one son, Ben B., Jr.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.