Ashburn, Isaac Seaborn (1889–1961)

By: David Minor

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: August 25, 2016

Isaac Seaborn Ashburn, soldier, publisher, and businessman, the son of Isaac and Hannah (Strother) Ashburn, was born at Farmersville, Texas, on December 19, 1889. His father was a Methodist preacher. Ashburn attended Paris and Greenville public schools and Polytechnic College at Fort Worth, then left college to become a reporter for the Fort Worth Record (see FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM). He rose from beat reporter to city editor but left the paper in 1913 to become publicity director and secretary of the board of directors of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). In 1917, at the age of twenty-nine, he joined the army. He was twice wounded and gassed and received numerous battlefield commendations, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Honor, and the Croix de Guerre with Palm. He was also promoted to lieutenant colonel.

After the war Ashburn returned to Texas A&M, where he became commandant of cadets. During the 1920s he moved to Houston to serve as a vice president and general manager of the Houston Chamber of Commerce. In 1936 he cofounded and published Texas Parade. The magazine, sponsored by the Texas Good Roads Association, which Ashburn headed, initially devoted its pages to promoting highway development. Within a few years Texas Parade became a publicity vehicle highlighting Texas history and sports and encouraging tourism.

During World War II, after being rejected for active duty, Ashburn served as director of civilian defense for Harris County and executive secretary of the Harris County Association for Industrial Peace. He became director of industrial and public relations in 1943 and later senior vice president and comptroller of the Todd Houston Shipbuilding Corporation. In 1949 Governor Beauford H. Jester promoted him to major general and appointed him deputy commander of the Texas National Guard.

The six-foot-three, three-hundred-pound publisher and war hero, nicknamed "General Ike," was a popular public speaker. He was also a friend and confidant to a number of political figures. In 1947 He moved from Houston to Austin, where he remained until a series of strokes forced him to remain bedridden at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Temple. He died in Temple on February 1, 1961, and was survived by his third wife, Bertha (Smith), and a son by his first wife, Beulah (Cook). He was buried at Austin Memorial Park. Ashburn was a lifelong Methodist, a member of the Army and Navy Legion of Valor and the First Officers Training Camp Association, and past president of the Ninetieth Division of the National Guard Association.

Dallas Morning News, February 2, 1961. Texas Parade, March 1961. Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).

  • Journalism
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Journals and Publications
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
Time Periods:
  • Great Depression
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

David Minor, “Ashburn, Isaac Seaborn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 16, 2022,

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August 25, 2016

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