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Cummings, Franklin (1823–1874)

Eleanor Russell Rentfro Biography Entry

Franklin Cummings, attorney, developer, and mayor of Brownsville, was born in Portland, Maine, on September 18, 1823, the son of Cyrus Cummings, a Methodist minister. He married Ann Mildred Jones in April 1850 and moved with his bride to Brownsville. He was attracted to the area because of its great potential as a deep-sea port. He was a graduate of Wesleyan University, with an LL.B. degree, and an early partner of Stephen Powers, who established the first law office in Brownsville. In 1851 he was appointed to succeed Powers as postmaster; he held this office for seven years. He was also a judge and one of the early mayors of the city. He was one of the group of men who financed the building of the First Episcopal Church in Brownsville in 1851. Cummings served as county commissioner of Cameron County, as an officer in the Texas State Troops at Fort Brown during the Civil War, and as a member of the Committee of Public Safety after the Cortina raid (see CORTINA, JUAN N.). He was one of the men to whom a charter was issued to build the Rio Grande Railroad, a link between Brownsville and Point Isabel (now Port Isabel). He died in Brownsville in 1874 and was survived by six children, including Joseph Franklin Cummings.

Betty Bay, Historic Brownsville: Original Townsite Guide (Brownsville, Texas: Brownsville Historical Association, 1980). W. H. Chatfield, The Twin Cities of the Border and the Country of the Lower Rio Grande (New Orleans: Brandao, 1893; rpt., Brownsville: Brownsville Historical Association, 1959). James Heaven Thompson, A Nineteenth Century History of Cameron County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1965).

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

Eleanor Russell Rentfro, “Cummings, Franklin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 22, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.