Cable, Robert Lee (1867–1951)

By: Travis K. Bagley

Type: Biography

Published: September 11, 2017

Robert Lee “Bob” Cable, son of Casper T. and Lucinda (Hamby) Cable, farmer, stockman, and state legislator, was born in Watauga County, North Carolina, on October 8, 1867. His father was a native of Tennessee, and Robert’s paternal grandfather, also born in Tennessee, was of German and English descent. Cable’s father was an avid supporter of the Confederate cause and served with the Home Guard because a crippling injury prevented him from serving on the battlefield. Following the Civil War, Casper and Lucinda Cable moved to a farm in North Carolina, where their son Robert was born. He grew up in a large family of ten children. In the fall of 1878 the family sold the farm in North Carolina and moved to Texas. First settling in Tarrant County, the Cables next moved to Clay County (where they were listed on the 1880 census), before finally settling in Montague County in 1881.

Robert Cable spent his formative years on his parents’ Montague County farm, located six miles south of Saint Jo. After the deaths of his father and mother several months apart in 1891, he assumed ownership of the homestead. His occupation varied from farmer to stockman, although he employed a man to care for the homestead while he supervised the farm. Able to read and write by age thirteen, he went on to complete one year of college. An avid reader of history, politics, and local affairs, Cable translated his interests into an elected position as a representative from Montague County in the House of the Texas legislature in 1905. A lifelong Democrat, Cable was reelected to three more consecutive terms in the Texas House from 1907 through 1913. After a twelve-year hiatus, he was reelected to the State House in 1923 and served until 1925. While a member of the House, Cable chaired the Agriculture Committee in 1907 and was vice chair in 1923. He chaired the Privileges, Suffrage, and Elections Committee in 1909, and he was vice chair of a joint committee tasked with establishing a branch of the Texas Normal School at Decatur in 1923. Other committees Cable served on included: Revenue and Taxation (1905, 1907, 1909, 1923); Roads, Bridges and Ferries (1905, 1907); Penitentiaries (1907); Stock and Stock Raising (1909, known as Live Stock and Stock Raising in 1923); Private Corporations (1909); Public Debt (1911); and Liquor Traffic (1923).

Cable is believed to have promoted “a progressive, yet safe and conservative, policy in the administration of the affairs of state.” Among numerous important bills he introduced, one of the most popular was the Anti-Pass or Anti-Free Pass Bill in 1907. This bill made it illegal for railroads to issue free passes, which had been used for bribery and were a major factor of corruption associated with the railroad. Cable’s popularity grew over the years and made him “one of the prominent, honored and influential residents of Montague county.” As a testament to his respectability, the Texas legislature unanimously adopted H. S. R. No. 64, “In Memory of Mr. Robert Lee ‘Bob’ Cable,” after his death in 1951. The memorial praised him as “a man of integrity and great personal courage; beloved and renown [sic] for his warm human understanding and wisdom.” The resolution further described him as “a man who enjoyed life to the fullest, devoted his many unselfish and untiring efforts to the interests of his adopted county and state.”

The details of Cable’s private life remain unclear. He married late in life, at age fifty-seven, to Laura (Goodrich) Bowen. Bowen, born sometime around 1865 in Tennessee, was a longtime neighbor of Cable’s in Montague County. Cable lived in the Bowen household in 1900 and again in 1920. In 1923 Laura’s husband Jacob Bowen died. The widow Bowen then married Cable in 1925. It does not appear that Bowen had any children of his own, but he may have adopted the Bowen’s four children, for he was listed in the 1940 census as living in the household of Harvie L. Bowen. Cable’s relationship to Harvie was listed as grandfather. Cable was preceded in death by his wife, who died on May 1, 1936. Robert Lee Cable passed away in Nocona, Texas, on February 1, 1951, from a variety of ailments associated with old age. He was eighty-three years old. Cable is buried in McGrady Cemetery, Saint Jo, Montague County, Texas.

Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Robert Cable (, accessed February 26, 2017. Buckley B. Paddock, ed., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis, 1906).

  • Twenty-ninth Legislature (1905-1906)
  • Thirtieth Legislature (1907)
  • House
  • Thirty-first Legislature (1909-1910)
  • Thirty-second Legislature (1911)
  • Thirty-eighth Legislature (1923)
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s

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

Travis K. Bagley, “Cable, Robert Lee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

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September 11, 2017