Greenwood, Thomas Benton (1872–1946)

By: W. St. John Garwood and Virginia Parton

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 1, 1995

Thomas Benton Greenwood, attorney and state Supreme Court justice, the son of Thomas Benton and Lucy H. (Gee) Greenwood, of Palestine, Texas, was born on July 2, 1872, in Louisburg, North Carolina. After graduation from the Palestine public schools he attended the University of Texas from approximately 1888 to 1890. Thereafter he read law in his father's office, was licensed in 1893, and practiced with his father until the senior partner's death in 1900. After 1900 he practiced alone, although he was often associated with his younger brother, A. G. Greenwood.

From 1907 to 1911 he served as a regent of the University of Texas. His statewide prominence began with a celebrated law case, Anderson County v. I&GN Railway Company (1912–18), in which he helped block removal of the railway company's shops and general offices from Palestine to Houston. On April 1, 1918, Greenwood was appointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of Texas; thereafter he was elected and continuously reelected without opposition until he relinquished his office on December 31, 1934. He returned to law practice, this time at Austin in association with former governor Daniel J. Moody and J. B. Robertson. That association continued until Greenwood's death.

Greenwood's judicial opinions in the relatively new and developing field of oil and gas law constitute much of today's decisional law in the same area. He was a member of the Texas Bar Association, its successor, the State Bar of Texas, and the American Bar Association; his committee work for these organizations contributed notably to modernizing the administration of justice. He held an honorary LL.D. degree from Austin College at Sherman. In 1908 he married Mary Ezell of Palestine; they had no children. Greenwood was a member of the Southern Presbyterian Church. He died in Austin on March 26, 1946, and was buried in the State Cemetery.

Minutes of the Supreme Court of Texas, March 17, 1946. Texas Bar Journal, 1946, 1961. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Lawyers
  • Oil and Gas and Natural Resources Law

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

W. St. John Garwood and Virginia Parton, “Greenwood, Thomas Benton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995