Leonard Benjamin Brown, founder of Texas-based common carriers, the son of Robert Benjamin and Emma Pearce Brown, was born in 1901 at Beeville. He went to Beeville High School and attended Morris Business School for a year, but as a youth also drove a mule team and worked for the Praeger Hardware Company and the Missouri Pacific Railroad in McAllen. He joined the Texas infantry, served as a field agent for the United States Census Bureau in 1920, and later managed a tailor shop before joining his father's R. B. Brown Transfer Company in 1921. In 1924 he founded the Robstown Transportation and Storage Company, which transported cotton and later evolved into a common carrier. Brown overcame hurricanes and the lack of paved roads to reach local, and then statewide, destinations. He expanded into Oklahoma and finally across the nation, before regulation by the Texas Railroad and Interstate Commerce commissions was established, and integrated his business by putting sales representatives at each of the company's terminal areas. In 1927 Brown moved to Corpus Christi, where he founded the Port City Transport Company. He consolidated his businesses in 1930 and sold them in 1944.
He continued to found businesses in the 1940s. At Kerrville he organized the Leonard B. Brown and Brother Insurance Agency and built KEVT. In 1941 at Dallas he organized a company that in 1948 became Best Motor Lines, another common carrier, which he sold in 1955. As a director of the Houston and Kerrville chambers of commerce, he also made numerous real estate investments. After a truck strike of American Federation of Labor workers in 1950, Brown founded Transport Insurance, and in 1958 he established the Transport Life Insurance Company. He also organized the Howard Electric Company and Bromac Corporation in 1956 and Texas Oklahoma Express at Dallas in 1957. In 1960 he organized the First Business Investment Corporation, and in 1963 helped organize the Commercial National Bank of Dallas. By the 1980s Brown's Red Arrow trucking firm had 867 employees, Best Motor Lines employed 1,374, Texas Oklahoma Express 117, and Transport Insurance 180. On April 10, 1937, Brown married Virginia Holloway. He died at Beeville on April 17, 1968.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every penny helps.
Please make your contribution today.
Transportation and Railroads
Texas in the 1920s
World War II
Texas Post World War II
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
Gulf Coast Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Diana J. Kleiner,
“Brown, Leonard Benjamin,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: