Wilson Edward Connell, banker, was born on April 12, 1858, in Bell County, Texas, to William A. and Louisa (Wills) Connell. The family moved to Brown County when he was two years old. He entered the ranching business at the age of fourteen and, working with his father's cattle during most of the year, attended school only in the winter. By the time he was sixteen, he was self-supporting and took charge of a herd belonging to a partnership that included his father and his brother G. H. He worked with the cattle for four years and received 25 percent of the calves. Within a couple of years Connell sold his share of the stock for $11,000 and promptly invested the proceeds in a merchandising and cattle operation in Sweetwater.
On January 30, 1881, he married Hattie Millican of Comanche County. They had six children. Connell moved to Midland in 1886 to open a branch of his Sweetwater store. Soon he entered the banking business. He first operated a partnership under the name Connell Brothers and Scharbauer, which he later renamed W. E. Connell and Company. Around 1888 he changed the name again and chartered the First National Bank of Midland. After serving as a principal stockholder, cashier, and general manager for ten years in Midland, Connell transferred to the First National Bank of Fort Worth in Tarrant County. He served as cashier for several years before being named vice president. During his tenure the bank moved to a new ten-story "skyscraper" at the corner of Seventh and Houston in downtown Fort Worth. In 1912 Capt. Martin B. Loyd, the first president of the bank, died; his last words were, "Damn my soul, you'll never fill this building." With his passing, Connell was named president. Under his leadership, the bank building not only filled but doubled in size. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the board. He stayed with the bank the remainder of his life. In addition, he had an interest in twenty West Texas banks.
Connell owned several cattle ranches that totalled 100,000 acres. He usually held 3,000 to 5,000 cattle. He was vice president and a stockholder of the Dublin Oil Mills. From 1920 until his death he served as treasurer of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He was also a director of the Texas and Pacific Railway and vice president and stockholder of the Cicero Smith Lumber Company. Connell was appointed to the War Finance Corporation during World War I and was named a district officer of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in 1932. He was a member of many clubs and a Baptist. He died at his home on May 5, 1936, and was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Fort Worth. He was survived by his widow and five children.
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James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959). Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 5, 1936. Buckley B. Paddock, History of Texas: Fort Worth and the Texas Northwest Edition (4 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1922). Who Was Who in America (Chicago: Marquis, Vol. 2.
Ranching and Cowboys
Ranchers and Cattlemen
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Connell, Wilson Edward,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 10, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 1, 1994
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