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Cummings, Joseph Franklin (1851–1912)

Pierre Joseph Vivier, Jr. Biography Entry

Joseph Franklin Cummings, teacher, son of Ann Mildred (Jones) and Franklin Cummings, was born in Brownsville, Texas, on July 16, 1851. He attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; his uncle, Joseph Cummings, was president of the university. On leaving Wesleyan, he entered West Point, from which he graduated in 1876; he was subsequently assigned to the Third United States Cavalry. He served in the Indian wars of 1876 and 1877 and was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant. After he retired from the army, he was employed in 1888 as a teacher in Galveston. He returned to Brownsville in July 1888 to organize the local public school system. Within two years a new school building was finished, on a site that was part of Washington Park. Because the school was well organized and thoroughly disciplined, Cummings became known as the founder of the Brownsville school system. Later, Cummings Junior High School was named for him. He also organized the first company of the Brownsville Rifles and was made its captain. In 1896 he married Katherine Garriga of Point Isabel (now Port Isabel); she was the sister of Mariano Simon Garriga, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi. The couple had one son. Cummings died in Washington, D.C., in 1912 and was buried in his mother's family burial plot in Maryland.

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).


  • Education
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders

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

Pierre Joseph Vivier, Jr., “Cummings, Joseph Franklin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 20, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.