Lykes, James McKay (1880–1943)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 13, 2017

James McKay Lykes, shipping magnate, son of Howell Tyson and Almeria Belle (McKay) Lykes, was born in Brooksville, Florida, on November 30, 1880. He attended Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and managed a hardware establishment in Cuba before he went into the cattle business with his brothers in Galveston, Texas, in 1903. The Lykeses shipped cattle to Cuba on chartered vessels that brought back sugar for the Gulf refineries. In 1907 Lykes consolidated his interests with H. Mosle and Company to form the United Steamship Company. His brother, Joseph Taliaferro Lykes, joined him in 1910, and in 1922 the Lykes Brothers Steamship Company (see LYKES BROTHERS, INCORPORATED) was incorporated to engage in the general shipping business. The company acted as agent for the United States Shipping Board during World War I and after the war expanded with offices in Houston and in Louisiana, Florida, and New York. James M. Lykes was chairman of the board. He moved to Houston in 1925 and carried on a cattle business. In 1935 he was decorated by the president of the Dominican Republic for services rendered that country during a hurricane. Lykes married Genevieve Parkhill in Tallahassee, Florida, on December 20, 1906. They had five children. He died in Houston on November 26, 1943.

Cattleman, November 10, 1948. Houston Post, November 27, 1943. Susan L. Mueller, A Lykes Family History (1991).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists

Time Periods:

  • Texas in the 1920s


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Anonymous, “Lykes, James McKay,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 19, 2022,

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April 13, 2017

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