CAPTAIN J. LEWIS THOMPSON, known throughout the yellow pine belt for his connection with the lumber manufacturing industry, has more recently given his energies to the banking business, organizing and directing the Public National Bank of Houston with the same enthusiastic devotion that for twenty-five years he gave to the lumber business. Organized the first of December, 1921, with Captain Thompson as President, the Public National Bank has since that time contributed constructive banking service, largely instrumental in furthering civic development, and ranks as one of the strong financial institutions of Houston. Captain Thompson was largely responsible for the organization of the bank, and has since the organization been in larger measure responsible for its success. He has a genius for handling financial affairs, and this, combined with his indefatigable efforts, and his reputation of steel clad integrity and dependability, has placed the Public National Bank in the position accorded it in the financial world.
The Public National Bank is capitalized at $300,000.00, with a surplus fund of over $30,000.00, deposits of two and one-half millions, and total resources of nearly $3,000,000.00. The officers and directors are men prominent in this section for their business ability. The officers are: Captain J. Lewis Thompson, President; Carter Stewart, Active Vice-President and Cashier; J. H. Tallichet and J. W. Carter, Vice-Presidents. The directorate is composed of the officers and the following: J. A. Collins, Dr. A. Philo Howard, Thomas Kehoe, Oscar Longnecker, John McClellan, H. 0. Schneider, Carter Stewart, J. H. Studdert, Dr. M. B. Stokes, O. L. White, Chas E. Bennett A. H. Black, J. W. Carter, R. D. Farish, J. M. King and C. A. Thanheiser. The bank has recently erected an eight-story modern building at the corner of Main and Preston at a cost of half a million dollars.
For a quarter of a century Captain J. Lewis Thompson was one of the biggest lumber manufacturers of the South, a leader in the industry, and President of the Yellow Pine Manufacturers Association. Then came the World War, and although Captain Thompson was far beynd the draft age, he settled his business affairs and recruited from the mill and lumber districts an entire company of husky young soldiers. He then offered himself and his boys to the United States Army. There followed a period of training at Camp Bowie, a few months later, in June, 1918, his company, with himself as Captain, was sent overseas. They took part in the San Mihiel drive, saw service in the Argonne Forest and on the Epernay front, and on the Marne. It is characteristic of Captain Thompson that when offered a Major's stripes to join a forestry regiment he declined firmly, saying, "that it was fighting men he had recruited." The company returned in June, 1919, with a splendid record for distinguished service, and was demobilized in July of that year.
Captain Thompson was born in Rusk County, Texas, the fourteenth of February, 1875. His father, J. M. Thompson, was one of the pioneer lumber men of Texas, and prominent in the early days of our State. He came here in 1833 with Sam Houston, from Georgia. Captain Thompson's mother, prior to her marriage, Miss Emma Holt, was a native of Tennessee, her people being prominently identified with that State, and the battle of Franklin w r as fought on her father's farm. Captain Thompson attended Dr. Alexander's Private School, at Kilgore, Texas, and later Austin College, at Sherman, Texas. He left school in 1891 and went in the lumber business, meeting with phenominal success, and organized at various times during the twenty-five years he spent in this industry the following firms: Thompson Brothers Lumber Company; Thompson-Ford Lumber Company; Texas Long Leaf Lumber Company and the Rock Creek Lumber Company. He still retains his interest in these businesses, but is not active in them. Captain Thompson also served two terms in the State Legislature, having a seat in the Thirty-Sixth and Thirty-Seventh Legislatures.
Captain Thompson was married at Sherman, the twenty-first of June, 1898, to Miss Helen Kerr, who is a sister of the wife of Dr. Vinson, President of the University of Texas. Her father, John S. Kerr, of Sherman, is a noted authority on horticulture. Captain and Mrs. Thompson have two sons, Lewis, who was a Major in the Artillery at Princeton, and graduated with honors in the class of 1923 at that institution, and is now with the Chemical National Bank of New York, and Ben, a senior in the University of Virginia, Captain of the La Crosse and member of the football team.
Captain Thompson is Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve Corps, Major in the National Guard. Inspector General of the 36th Division, and belongs to the Houston Club, the Houston Country Club, the University Club, and the Lumberman's Club. He is a member of the First Presbyterian Church.