William John Caven, soldier, businessman, and politician, was born in Augusta, Georgia, on October 27, 1833, the son of David and Eliza (Scott) Caven. His family moved to Harrison County, Texas, before the Civil War, and he settled near Caddo Lake as a planter about 1859. When Col. Elkanah Greer's Third Texas Cavalry was organized in 1861, Caven joined Company A, a unit primarily recruited from wealthy planters in eastern Harrison County, under Capt. Thomas W. Winston. Caven served in the regiment for four years, rose to the rank of lieutenant, and was wounded twice. After the war he returned to Marshall, where he was one of the leading cotton growers in East Texas. He married Virginia Driscoll of Tyler in 1867; they had six children. Beginning in 1872 Caven anticipated that the railroad would lead to an economic boom in the Dallas area and made a fortune by investing heavily in Dallas real estate. He continued to live in Marshall and represented the Fourteenth District in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth legislatures. In 1886 he moved to Dallas to take over his real estate business and became president of the Central National Bank of Dallas. Caven was not affiliated with any church but believed in the "universal brotherhood of man." He died in Dallas on July 25, 1907, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.