The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Cummins, William Fletcher (1840–1931)

Biography Entry

William Fletcher Cummins, Methodist minister and geologist, the son of John and Rebecca (Roper) Cummins, was born at Springfield, Missouri, on June 13, 1840. He attended St. Charles College. Though his father, a Methodist minister, objected to his study of geology, Cummins accompanied a geological expedition to Texas in November 1859. In 1860 he was licensed to preach by the East Texas Conference of the Methodist Church and subsequently served as pastor of various churches in Chambers, Liberty, Van Zandt, Lampasas, Llano, Bell, and Ellis counties. He served in Arkansas with the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Cummins wrote about being a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 1866–67. His job with the Klan was to play on the superstitions of the newly freed Blacks. He bought a half interest in the Waxahachie Argus in 1868 and served as editor for a short while. He also worked as a right-of-way agent and tried the real estate business. Cummins also worked with the United States Geological Survey in Parker and Archer counties. Copper deposits located in that area were used for making percussion caps for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As assistant state geologist for North Texas in 1888, he discovered and named the Strawn, Canyon, and Cisco formations. For a number of years he did field work for Edward D. Cope, a paleontologist from Philadelphia. Cummins's list of collections was included in the Texas Geological Survey's Second Annual Report (1891–94), and an account of his work was published in the Journal of Geology (November-December 1908). Efforts to locate artesian water took Cummins to Mexico in 1909. Various oil and railroad companies employed him as geologist. Cummins married Mrs. Minnie C. Bullion Darnell in Weatherford, Texas, on March 17, 1871. They had three children. He spent his last years at his home in El Paso, where he died on January 8, 1931. He was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in El Paso.

William Fletcher Cummins Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. El Paso Herald, January 9, 1931. El Paso Post, January 9, 1931. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976). Henry Fairfield Osborn, Cope, Master Naturalist: The Life and Letters of Edward Drinker Cope (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1931). Macum Phelan, History of Early Methodism in Texas, 1817–1866 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 1924); A History of the Expansion of Methodism in Texas, 1867–1902 (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937).


  • Religion
  • Methodist

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

Anonymous, “Cummins, William Fletcher,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 15, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.