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GILL, BENNETT LLOYD

GILL, BENNETT LLOYD (1862–1935). Bennett (Ben) L. Gill, banker, son of Charles Alexander and Martha Antoinette (Lloyd) Gill, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on October 9, 1862. He moved to Dallas, Texas, with his father and grandfather, Thomas Owen Gill, Jr., after the death of his mother in 1874. He first worked as a general laborer in his father's planing mill in Dallas, at a salary of three dollars a week, and later as a clerk in a Dallas grocery store. At age sixteen Gill decided "to take some time off and get an education." Before his schooling could progress to any degree, however, a Terrell grocer offered him the position of clerk in his store at a salary of forty dollars a month. According to Gill, "It was too princely a sum to disregard." In 1879 he moved to Terrell.

He spent four years as a clerk and store manager in various mercantile establishments in Terrell and Forney. On his twenty-first birthday in 1883, he was hired as bookkeeper for the Bivins and Corley Bank of Terrell. He remained in this position for three years, then accepted a similar position with the rival Jim Harris Bank. In his first activity with the new bank, Gill, without consulting his boss, negotiated the purchase of his old employer, the Bivins and Corley Bank. Harris, a wealthy cattleman who was dabbling in banking, was so pleased with his employee's action that he promoted him to manager. By the time he was twenty-four, Gill was locally regarded as a shrewd business strategist.

In 1890 he and a group of friends purchased the First National Bank of Terrell, "a young institution bidding for financial favor." Gill was named cashier. He held the position of vice president and cashier from 1897 until 1911, when Governor Oscar B. Colquitt, one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Terrell, persuaded Gill to move to Austin and assume the duties of state banking and insurance commissioner. In this position he worked to construct the state's banking laws.

His commission post brought him much attention, and in 1913 Gill resigned to accept a position as vice president of the Seaboard National Bank of New York City. He left New York in 1922, although he retained his connection with the Seaboard National Bank as a director and as its Southwest representative until its merger with Chase National Bank of New York. Upon his return to Terrell, Gill was honored by being named chairman of the board of directors of both the First National Bank and the American National Bank, previously the Harris Bank. he held this dual position until the First National Bank went out of business and continued as the chairman of the board of the American National Bank until his death.

Gill married Rena Childress on January 26, 1887, in Terrell. The couple had four children. He was a member of the Democratic party and the Episcopal Church, a director of Terrell State Hospital and the Manhattan Life Insurance Company of New York, vice president of the State Fair of Texas Association, and a member of the Terrell school and library boards. He died at his home in Terrell on September 30, 1935.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Terrell Tribune, October 1, 1935.

Brian Hart

Citation

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

Brian Hart, "GILL, BENNETT LLOYD," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgi16), accessed October 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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