Bagby, Thomas M. (1814–1868)

By: Lura N. Rouse

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 2016

Thomas M. Bagby, businessman and civic leader, the son of Daniel and Lucy Bagby, was born in Virginia on May 18, 1814. In 1822 the family moved to Montgomery County, Tennessee, where Bagby was reared and became a merchant. He arrived in Texas in 1837, worked for a time as a commission merchant, and by the 1840s was a prosperous cotton factor. In 1847 he was involved in an effort to emancipate a black woman, but his petition to the legislature was denied. On February 23, 1848, he married Marianna Baker, with whom he had six children. He was one of nine original members of the Houston Public Library, chartered in 1848, which stands on the site of the former Bagby home. He was a Mason and a Presbyterian and served as an alderman of the Fourth Ward, Houston. He founded and was president of the third national bank established in Texas. In 1850 he was one of the incorporators of the Houston Plank Road Company, and in 1866 he helped found the Houston Direct Navigation Company to promote barge transport of cotton and improve bayou navigation. A steamboat, the T. M. Bagby, was named in his honor. Bagby died in Houston on May 12, 1868.

History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of the Cities of Houston and Galveston (Chicago: Lewis, 1895). David G. McComb, Houston: The Bayou City (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969; rev. ed., Houston: A History, 1981). Andrew Forest Muir, "The Free Negro in Harris County, Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 46 (January 1943). Ellen Robbins Red, Early Days on the Bayou, 1838–1890: The Life and Letters of Horace Dickinson Taylor (Waco: Texian Press, 1986). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970). WPA Writers Program, Houston (Houston: Anson Jones, 1942).

Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Lura N. Rouse, “Bagby, Thomas M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 26, 2022,

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September 1, 2016

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