Caldwell, Frank (1883–1962)

By: Anne Marie Fikes

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: March 23, 2021

Frank Caldwell, hardware salesman and Texana collector, was born in Austin, Texas, in 1883 and lived his entire life there. He was an employee of Hartwell Brothers Wholesalers, but his true love was book collecting. At the age of seven he purchased for ten cents a copy of The Life and Adventures of Ben Thompson, the Famous Texan, published in 1884, forbidden reading for children of that time. After he read it he threw it into the loft of the barn, where rats devoured the evidence. Later he attempted to buy another copy from Gammel's Book Store, but the price kept rising just beyond his willingness to pay. Ten years later he was given a copy of the book by Judge A. E. Wilkinson of Austin. The Life and Adventures of Ben Thompson now is part of a collection of 1,000 books and documents, which was given to the University of Texas during the 1950s. Other titles include Arthur Ikin's Texas (1841); Dudley G. Wooten's History of Texas (1898); Texas-The Home for the Emigrant from Everywhere (1875), authorized by the Texas legislature; Edmond Bates's Authentic History of Sam Bass (1878); and A. J. Jowell's Life of Big Foot Wallace (1899). Caldwell also collected stamps, arrowheads, and guns. He was a lifetime member of the Texas State Historical Association, the Gun Collectors Association, and Stamp Collectors. He and his wife, Winnie, had two children. He died in Austin on January 28, 1962, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Austin American, January 29, 1962. Dallas News, September 6, 1936. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Anne Marie Fikes, “Caldwell, Frank,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
March 23, 2021