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CARROLL, GEORGE WASHINGTON

CARROLL, GEORGE WASHINGTON (1855–1935). George Washington Carroll, lumber and oil businessman, philanthropist, and prohibition candidate for vice president, the son of Francis Lafayette and Sarah (Long) Carroll, was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on April 11, 1855. His father took the family to Beaumont from Louisiana in 1868 and, with others, formed the Long Shingle and Saw Mill. George Carroll went to work for his father's company and soon became foreman. On November 20, 1877, he married Underhill Mixson in Beaumont's first church wedding. They had three sons. In 1877 F. L. Carroll, in company with George Carroll, John Gilbert, and others, founded the Beaumont Lumber Company. By 1892 the younger Carroll was its president and general manager. The family sold the Beaumont Lumber Company to the John Henry Kirby interests in 1900, but George Carroll continued to hold interest in the Nona Mills Company, also founded by his father, and other lumber companies.

In 1892 Carroll was persuaded by fellow First Baptist Church member Pattillo Higgins to invest a thousand dollars in the Gladys City Oil Company, which was planning to drill for oil on Spindletop Hill, just a few miles south of Beaumont. Carroll, the only investor actually to put up cash instead of land, was elected president of the company. The first efforts to find oil were unsuccessful, but in 1901, on land leased from the Gladys City Oil Company, Anthony Francis Lucas brought in the Lucas Gusher, the first well of the great Spindletop oilfield. By 1903 Carroll had become one of Beaumont's wealthiest men, having made one fortune in lumber and another in oil. In spite of the money he made from Spindletop oil, he came to regret Beaumont's sudden prosperity, which he felt had turned the town into a den of iniquity. Consequently, he conducted a constant but largely ineffective war against drinking, gambling, and prostitution in the town. He ran on the prohibition ticket for governor of Texas in 1902 and for vice president of the United States in 1904. Both campaigns were unsuccessful. Carroll did, however, serve two terms as alderman from Ward No. 3 in the city of Beaumont.

Carroll, who was a devout Baptist, made large contributions to the First Baptist Church of Beaumont and was equally generous to other Baptist causes, particularly Baylor University. He was the founder and first president of the Young Men's Christian Association in Beaumont and gave much of the money for the construction of a new YMCA building in the late 1920s. He was also a pioneer ecologist who believed that indiscriminate cutting of young trees was bad for the environment. His effort to educate his fellow lumbermen to this danger met with little success. By the time of his death, Carroll was no longer wealthy, presumably because he had given away most of his money. He died on December 14, 1935, in a small room in the YMCA building that his money had helped to build.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James Anthony Clark and Michel T. Halbouty, Spindletop (New York: Random House, 1952). W. R. Estep, And God Gave the Increase: The Centennial History of the First Baptist Church of Beaumont, Texas (Beaumont: First Baptist Church, 1972).

Judith Linsley and Ellen Rienstra

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Judith Linsley and Ellen Rienstra, "CARROLL, GEORGE WASHINGTON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcacb), accessed September 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.