Caven, William John (1833–1907)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

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.

Samuel Barron, The Lone Star Defenders: A Chronicle of the Third Texas Cavalry, Ross' Brigade (New York: Neale, 1908; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1964). Dallas Morning News, July 26, 1907. Sidney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas, 1907). Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976).
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • State Legislators
  • Eighteenth Legislature (1883-1884)
  • Nineteenth Legislature (1885)
  • Seventeenth Legislature (1881-1882)
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Anonymous, “Caven, William John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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