James Wainwright Flanagan, banker and petroleum engineer, son of Robert Buck and Anna Bell (Cornelius) Flanagan, was born on October 26, 1872, at Henderson, Texas. He was a nephew of Gen. Webster Flanagan and great-nephew of United States senator James Winwright Flanagan. Flanagan left Henderson at an early age and engaged in railroad work and mining in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States from 1888 to 1912. He became president of the Royal Bank of Canada in 1913 and in 1919 organized a corporation to build 615 miles of petroleum pipeline from Cartagena to Barrancabermeja, Colombia. For this work the Colombian government erected a monument to Flanagan in 1949.
Flanagan was a lieutenant colonel in the Cuban army in 1896 and was awarded the Medal of Military Merit, served on the staff of Brig. Gen. W. W. Gordon in 1898, and held an honorary commission as lieutenant colonel in the First and Second battalions of the Irish Regiment of Canada in 1940. He was given many awards by South America and European countries, and in 1926 he was decorated by Pope Pius XI as a commander in the Order of St. Gregory. He was a member of the Texas State Historical Association and the Sons of the Republic of Texas. In 1933 he translated Theodore Wolf's Geography and Geology of Equador.
For many years Flanagan lived in Toronto, Ontario, and served as vice president of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. In 1946 he retired from public life and moved to Houston, Texas. He was married twice: to Panchita G. Love in 1902 and to Hazel B. Brown in 1913. He had two children. Flanagan died in Houston on July 24, 1950.