WILLIAM WIESS, son of Simon and Margaret Wiess, was born at Wiess Bluff on the Neches River in Jasper County, Texas, October 23rd, 1842, where his parents had settled in the early days of the Texas Republic and resided until their death.
William Wiess had four brothers: Napoleon, Mark (a twin brother) Valentine and Massena, all of whom lived most of their lives in Beaumont and passing to their reward left behind them a record of achievement that honors them and their home city. A sister, Mrs. P. W. Coffin, still resides in the family home at Wiess Bluff.
At the beginning of the Civil War, William Wiess, then a lad of eighteen years, enlisted in the Southern army, becoming a member of Captain Marsh's command at Sabine Pass, and remained in the service until the close of the war. The war over, he returned to his home and shortly thereafter began at Beaumont the business career that was to link his name inseparably with the development of the natural resources of his section.
Captain Wiess was married in 1866, to Miss Lou E. Herring of Beaumont. Of this union there were three children: Nena, the wife of W. A. Priddie of Beaumont; E. C. Wiess of Mineral Wells, and Perry M. Wiess of Beaumont. In 1880, several years after the death of his first wife, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Carrothers of Georgetown, Texas, a native of Austin, and a daughter of Samuel D. and Harriett Perry Carrothers, natives of South Carolina, who came to Texas in the early forties. Samuel D. Carrothers was a large planter and slave owner in prewar days and after the Civil War was engaged in the lumber business at Georgetown and active in lumber circles until his death in 1878. Of this union two children were born: William Wiess, Jr., who died in infancy, and Harry C. Wiess, who resides at Houston, and is a vice president of the Humble Oil and Refining Company. Mrs. William Wiess, a cultured, Christian woman, after the death of her husband, established a home at Houston where she now resides.
Among the early business ventures of Captain Wiess, was a mercantile business at Beaumont, and a line of steamboats on the upper Neches River, in both of which he was successful but soon abandoned to engage in the manufacture of pine lumber, in which he was eminently successful and one of the outstanding leaders of the industry for almost a quarter of a century. Early in life he had the rare foresight to purchase and hold East Texas pine timber lands and this, perhaps more than anything else, was the foundation of the large fortune built up by him.
With his brothers and H. W. Potter he organized in 1880 the Reliance Lumber Company and built a mill on the banks of Brakes Bayou within a short distance of the present business district of Beaumont, which was operated by that company continuously and successfully until absorbed, together with the large timber holdings of the company by the Kirb> Lumber Company in 1901. Besides his identification with the yellow pine lumber industry, Captain Wiess was interested in many other lines of business. Naturally he participated in the great oil boom occasioned by the bringing in of the Lucas gusher at Spindle Top in 1901. He was one of the chief owners of the Paraffine Oil Company, the discovery company of the Batson oil field in Hardin County in 1903. The successful operation of this company added greatly to his already large fortune. He was also one of the largest stockholders and a director of the American National Bank of Beaumont, a director of the Gulf, Beaumont and Kansas City Railroad; the Beaumont Wharf and Terminal Company and other Santa Fe properties in that section. In fact, few business concerns of Beaumont but that secured his support and financial assistance.
Captain Wiess was intensely interested in public affairs and let his influence be felt in all matters of public welfare. One of the original promoters of a deep water port at Beaumont, he gave unsparingly of his time and money to the project, the successful completion of which has contributed largely to the steady growth of that city and section. He took a keen interest in politics, although he never sought public office for himself. He was primarily responsible for the law now on the Statute books of Texas, which abolished gambling on horse racing at the track side or in poolrooms. He was always aligned on the side of moral reform and progress in commercial or industrial matters. His opinions were expressed freely, succinctly and emphatically; and immediately an issue was up for public consideration he announced his views thereon without hesitation and labored with all his might for the success of the side he elected to support. He was a staunch and active member of the Methodist Church and contributed liberally to the Methodist cause generally. The liberal contributions of Captain and Mrs. Wiess to the building fund of the First Methodist Church of Beaumont, made possible the erection of the handsome church edifice that has for many years been a source of pride to Beaumont Methodism. He was a substantial contributor and ardent supporter of Southwestern University at Georgetown. He was deeply interested in and aided greatly in a financial way the Y. M. C. A. of his home city. In fact he was identified with every movement and institution in his home city of Beaumont which had in hand the upbuilding of the city in a material or moral way. No worthy cause ever appealed to him without enlisting his material and moral support and although a man of large business affairs, he always found time to follow his financial support with active and interested personal assistance and encouragement.
It can be truthfully said of him that in his public and private relations he never made a truce with wrong and that he met and discharged every public and private duty in accordance with the highest standard of honesty and fair dealing. His death occurred at Beaumont on June 12th, 1914.