William Cameron, businessman, was born on a farm near Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland, on January 11, 1834, the son of John and Isabella Cameron. He attended college at Dundee and served three years as an apprentice in a lawyer's office before 1852, when he immigrated to the United States. He subsequently worked in Illinois and Missouri and in 1860 became construction foreman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. At the outbreak of the Civil War he organized a militia at Sedalia, Missouri. He was captured in the battle of Springfield on August 10, 1861, sent to St. Louis, and later paroled. In 1864 he married Letitia Stewart of Pleasantown, Missouri, and settled in Sedalia. The couple had two children. About 1865 Cameron contracted with the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad to supply ties and construction timber. He built his first retail lumberyard at Warrensburg, Missouri, in 1867 and continued to establish yards along the railroad line as it advanced to the southwest.
In 1871 he moved to Denison, Texas, and in 1872, in partnership with J. S. Mayfield, established yards at Denison and Dallas. Mrs. Cameron died at Denison in 1873, and on September 1, 1875, Cameron married Flora Ann Berry of Little Rock, Arkansas; they became parents of three children, one of whom, William W. Cameron, carried on the business after his father's death. On August 1, 1876, Cameron opened a yard at Waco, where he made his home and headquarters after 1878. By 1890 the William Cameron Company had more than sixty retail lumberyards. Cameron entered the sawmill and timber business in 1885 with organization of the Texas Lumber Company to secure virgin timberlands in East Texas and Louisiana. Between 1885 and 1897 he expanded also into the grain and flour mill business. He built mills at Fort Worth and Waco and elevators along the line of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway. Cameron was a director of the First National Bank of Waco, the Hibernia National Bank of New Orleans, and the Southern National Bank of New York. He died at Morgan City, Louisiana, on February 6, 1899.
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R. J. Tolson, A History of William Cameron and Company (Waco: Cameron, ca. 1920). 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.
Jeanette H. Flachmeier,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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