Estes, William Lee (1870–1930)

By: Cecil Harper, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

William Lee Estes, lawyer and judge, the son of Benjamin Thomas and Jessie (Hicks) Estes, was born in Boston, Texas, on October 18, 1870. His father was a district judge and the founder of the Texarkana National Bank. Estes attended public school at Boston and Wytheville Military Academy at Wytheville, Virginia, where he graduated with honors in 1888. He received an A.B. degree with class honors at Hampden-Sydney College in 1891. He then entered law school at the University of Texas, where he received his LL.B. in 1894. He returned to Bowie County and opened a law office in Texarkana.

Estes was soon a prominent and successful attorney. In 1899, with Hiram Glass and John J. King, he founded the law firm Glass, Estes, and King. With the addition of A. L. Burford the firm was renamed Glass, Estes, King, and Burford. It became one of the best-known corporate law firms in the state and numbered among its clients some of the largest railroad corporations in Texas. On February 18, 1920, Estes was appointed United States district judge for the Eastern District of Texas, a position he held until his death.

He was also president of the Texarkana Board of Education and the state bar association, vice president of the Texarkana and Fort Smith Railway Company and the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company, a director of the Texarkana National Bank, and a trustee of the William Buchanan Foundation. He was also a Mason and a Democrat. He attended the First Presbyterian Church of Texarkana, where he served as a deacon. On December 9, 1903, he married Annie Poindexter Dunn, the daughter of a prominent Arkansas congressman. The couple had three children, two of whom survived childhood. Estes died on June 14, 1930.

Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 3.
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Lawyers
  • Commercial and Corporate Law

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

Cecil Harper, Jr., “Estes, William Lee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995