Congressmen of Texas' First District--Part III

"Thomas Henry Ball:  A Man of Vision," Monument to the Father of the Houston Ship Channel in Tomball, Texas
"Thomas Henry Ball: A Man of Vision," Monument to the Father of the Houston Ship Channel in Tomball, Texas | Source
Senator Morris Sheppard
Senator Morris Sheppard | Source
Congressman Eugene Black
Congressman Eugene Black | Source

Hutcheson to Black

We continue our sketches of First District Congressmen--

  • Joseph Chappell Hutcheson--Born near Boydton, Va., May 18, 1842. He graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, and served in the Confederate infantry during the Civil War, rising to command of Company E, 14th Virginia Infantry. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1866 and moved to Anderson, Texas, to practice. He moved to Houston in 1874, and was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1880, where he wrote the bill establishing the University of Texas. Hutcheson served in the U.S. House, Texas District 1, from 1893-97, and went back to practicing law in Houston. He died at his summer home near Chattanooga, Tenn., on May 25, 1924, a week after his 82nd birthday. His son Joseph Chappell Hutcheson Junior was a mayor of Houston and longtime judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
  • Thomas Henry Ball--Born in Huntsville, Texas, January 14, 1859, the first of our list who was a native Texan. He graduated from Austin College, studied law in Virginia, and was admitted to the bar in 1888. He served as mayor of Huntsville, where he lived until he moved to Houston in 1902. An active advocate of prohibition, Ball was elected to Congress in 1896, and served there until 1903, when he resumed his law practice in Houston. Ball unsuccessfully supported the prohibitionist candidate for Governor in 1912, and ran himself in 1914 but was defeated by Jim Ferguson. Meantime, Ball had secured federal funding for the Houston Ship Channel in 1899, and led the long effort for its construction that culminated in 1914. He served as general counsel to the Port Commission of Houston. He died in Houston on May 7, 1944. the town of Peck, Texas, as renamed Tomball in his honour.
  • (John) Morris Sheppard--Born May 28, 1875, in Morris County, Texas; his father was Texas' 4th District Congressman from 1899-1902. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1895, from the law school there in 1897, and from Yale Law School in 1898; he began practicing law in Pittsburgh, Texas, in 1898, but moved to Texarkana the following year. When his father died in October 1902, Sheppard was elected to take his place, taking office in November of that year. From the following year, Morris represented the 1st District when Texarkana was redistricted there; and he continued to serve until he resigned in February 1913 to take his place in the U.S. Senate, to which he had been elected to fill a vacancy. Sheppard served in the Senate for 28 years, until his death on April 9, 1941, age 65. While in the House, he had risen to chairmanship of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds. He is the grandfather of former Florida Senator Connie Mack III, and the great-grandfather of Florida Congressman Connie Mack IV.
  • Horace Worth Vaughn--Born December 2, 1867, in Marion County, Texas. He was city attorney for Texarkana, Texas, from 1891-98; district attorney from 1906-10; and a member of the Texas Senate from 1911-13. He served as 1st District Congressman from 1913-15. A longtime supporter of prohibition, he was defeated for renomination by the Democratic party because of his stance. After leaving office, Vaughn moved to Hawaii, where he was appointed U.S. district attorney for the territory in October, then district attorney in December. In 1916, President Wilson appointed him U.S. District Court Judge for the Hawaii District. Vaughn was a supporter of Wilson Administration policies on most matters including prohibition, but opposed the 18th Amendment because he felt it violated states' rights; instead, he urged the states to pass their own prohibition laws. In 1920. his only son died, and he became depressed, committing suicide on November 10, 1922, aged 55 years; he was buried in Nuuanu Cemetery. His daughter Jean Vaughn Gilbert was one of Hawaii's first female lawyers, and became Honolulu city attorney.
  • Eugene Black--Born July 2, 1879, in Blossom, Texas. After working in the Blossom Post Office and teaching in Lamar County from 1898-1900, he earned his law degree at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., in 1905, beginning his practice in Clarksville, Red River County, Texas. He and his brother Ernest also began a wholesale grocery business, Black Brothers Company, which was an early bottler of Coca-Cola; Eugene Black became rich as a grocer and lawyer over the next several years. In 1914, Black was elected to the House of Representatives for the First District, and served until 1929. He was a close ally of future House Speaker John Nance Garner, and served in several leadership positions in his term of service. In 1928, he was defeated for the Democratic nomination by a former supporter, Wright Patman. In 1929, he was appointed to the U.S. Board of Tax Appeals by President Hoover, serving there until 1933; he was appointed to this board again in 1944 by President Roosevelt, and served this time until he retired on November 30, 1953, but he was appointed the next day by President Eisenhower to serve on the U.S. Tax Court. He finally retired permanently in 1966, and lived in Washington, D.C., until his death at the age of 95 on May 22, 1975; he was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland, Md.

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