Cureton, Calvin Maples (1874–1940)

By: William C. Pool

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 3, 2019

Calvin Maples Cureton, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, the son of William E. and Mary Jane (Odle) Cureton and grandson of Capt. J. J. (Jack) Cureton, was born on September 1, 1874, near Walnut Springs, Bosque County, Texas. In 1889, after four years at Central College in Walnut Springs, Cureton began moving his father's cattle from Bosque County to the Trans-Pecos region. In 1892–93 he attended the University of Virginia, where he absorbed much Jeffersonian political and social philosophy. The depression that followed the panic of 1893 interrupted his education, but he soon found new interests in the Texas political campaigns of the middle 1890s and served as state secretary on the executive committee of the People's party during the campaign of 1896. During this time he and his brother, H. J. Cureton, published and edited the Southern Arena, a monthly magazine. Cureton studied law privately and was admitted to the bar in 1897. During the Spanish-American War he served with Company I, Third Texas Infantry.

In 1898 he became a junior law partner to Judge O. L. Lockett of Meridian, and three years later, on April 28, 1901, he married Nora Morris. After Lockett was elected district judge in 1905, Cureton and his brother practiced law together until 1913. Cureton served two terms, 1909–13, in the Texas legislature and in 1913 became first assistant in the office of state attorney general Ben Looney. He was elected attorney general in 1918 and held this position until Governor Pat M. Neff appointed him chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1921. Cureton was elected to the court in 1922 and served until his death in 1940. His time on the bench was a period of industrial and oil activity in Texas, and his interpretation of the law promoted development of Texas resources. He also wrote many opinions concerning water and irrigation rights. Chief Justice Cureton died in Austin on April 8, 1940, of chronic heart disease and was buried in the State Cemetery.

William C. Pool, Bosque Territory (Kyle, Texas: Chaparral, 1964). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges

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

William C. Pool, “Cureton, Calvin Maples,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 3, 2019