McBride, Samuel Bender (1840–1917)

By: Justin Jolly

Type: Biography

Published: May 12, 2021

Updated: May 13, 2021


Samuel Bender McBride, attorney, state legislator, and Civil War veteran, was born in 1840, in Tennessee. Sources differ regarding his month of birth. Many genealogy sources give June 1, while his tombstone has July 1. He was the son of Amos McBride and Margarett (Logan) McBride. After the Civil War broke out in 1861 McBride enlisted in the Confederate Army in Missouri in Simon P. Burns’s Eighth Regiment which was later reorganized as the Missouri Eleventh Infantry. During the war McBride took part in the battles of Prairie Grove, Pea Ridge, Pleasant Hill, and Jenkins Ferry. In 1864, before the war ended, he was granted furlough and moved to San Marcos, Hays County, Texas. 

On October 31, 1866, McBride married Mary Belle Wilson in Hays County. The 1870 census listed the couple with one son and one daughter, and McBride served as justice of the peace for Hays County. By 1878 he was practicing law in San Marcos and was also heavily involved in Hays County politics. At some point, he served as chairman of the Democratic precinct executive committee. From 1879 to 1880 he helped establish a free public school in Hays County and served as a trustee. The school served both male and female students but housed them in separate buildings. The 1880 census listed McBride as a lawyer, and the family had another daughter.

In 1882 McBride ran for state office as the representative for House District 91 (representing Caldwell, Guadalupe, and Hays counties), a district with two seats, on the Democrat ticket. He and fellow Democrat J. N. Stagner won the election with 936 and 760 votes, respectively, easily defeating their independent opponents, E. E. Lynch and W. F. Delany, who netted 441 and 273 votes. In the Eighteenth Texas Legislature, McBride was a member of several committees, including the Finance Committee, the Subcommittee on Penitentiaries, and the Private Land Claims Committee, which he chaired. He also served on the Educational Affairs Committee, perhaps because of his work establishing a public school in Hays County. McBride authored three bills during his time in the Eighteenth legislature. One would require that the inspection of horses before shipment be conducted in the same manner as cattle. Another sought to improve public roads by requiring harsher penalties for officials who failed adequately to place proper index boards and mile markers. A third bill would provide state funding for the salaries of teachers in the free public schools. McBride voted against a proposition that would abolish the convict lease system in Texas. This resulted in some backlash from his Hays County constituents, who recognized the state’s practice of leasing prisoners’ labor out to private individuals’ companies as being corrupt, brutal, and antagonistic to free labor principles; convict labor drove down the wage rate.

McBride did not finish his legislative term, which he served from January 9, 1883, to April 18, 1883. For several weeks in summer 1883, he took a trip to California and visited Los Angeles. Upon his return to Texas, he openly discussed how much he liked the countryside and weather on the West Coast. He resigned from the Texas House, and he and his family moved to Los Angeles in September 1883, within a month after his return.

By 1886, however, McBride returned to San Marcos and resumed his law practice. A year later he reentered local politics when he was appointed as the county attorney for Hays County after B. G. Neighbors resigned. McBride held that office until at least 1890. In 1892 he worked as a manager for the Mangus Mining Company—an enterprise that seems to have been operated by investors from Hays County—in Silver City, New Mexico. The company commenced operations in 1890 and remained active until 1912. McBride may have been involved with it as late as 1900.

McBride made another run at state office in 1894 and was elected to represent District 98 (representing Blanco, Comal, Gillespie, and Hays counties) in the House of the Twenty-fourth Texas Legislature. He was appointed to six different committees: Claims and Accounts, Judicial Districts, Internal Improvements, Public Lands and Land Office, Revenue and Taxation, and Constitutional Amendments. Among the bills that McBride authored, House Bill 37 attempted to amend the law related to the publication of sheriffs’ sales; this bill sought to make it illegal for the local authorities to place ads in newspapers for the sale of a foreclosed property without the consent of the defendant. House Bill 43 sought to place business or contractual deals conducted by telegraph on an equal legal plain with those done in writing, making it harder for responsible parties to avoid liability simply because a transaction was transmitted electronically. House Bill 496 called for the “rendition and assessment for taxes of the property of railroad companies.” This would make it difficult for the railroad companies to avoid paying property taxes they owed. None of these bills became law.

McBride’s primary focus, however, was House Joint Resolution 3 that he introduced in February 1895. For several years, lawmakers had been debating the topic of immigrant voting. (In Texas, non-citizen immigrants could vote if they simply filed a declaration of their intention to become citizens.) The debate was a direct response to political bosses in South Texas who used this system fraudulently to manipulate the votes of immigrants and often brought people in from Mexico just in time to vote and then sent them back. McBride’s resolution called for amendments to Sections 1 and 2 of Article 6 of the Texas Constitution so that only American citizens could vote. This resolution was met with opposition, specifically from Robert B. Allen, John Reiger, and William Orr. These three men—all representatives from Dallas County—argued that the resolution was intended to “deprive a large and industrious class of people who have come among us with the intent of remaining permanently . . . and that it is a blow aimed at the best interest of the Democratic party.” McBride countered by stating that this issue was not designed to cripple any political party as it received support from a majority of Democrats, all Republicans, and all Populists. McBride also presented a petition signed by 180 citizens from Hays County to demonstrate that the people of Texas wanted House Joint Resolution 3 to pass; he later withdrew the petition. The resolution was passed after the third reading, but only after a compromise was reached. The final, watered-down resolution required immigrants to file their intention papers six months before being able to vote, thus presumably curtailing the most egregious cases of immigrant voter fraud.

McBride also endorsed the free coinage of silver by the federal government, a cause that stood as the principal litmus test of reformers of the era. In his efforts to curb voter fraud, rein in the railroads, and support a more flexible monetary policy, McBride clearly identified with the reform wing of the Democratic party, a wing most notably represented by Governor James S. Hogg.

In September 1902 McBride and his wife moved to Arlington, Texas. Soon after moving to Tarrant County, McBride became engaged in the buying and selling of real estate, and in 1907 he opened a law office in Arlington above the Citizens National Bank. He also became a notary public. A year later he served as the secretary for the Arlington Commercial Club, a local booster organization. As secretary, he published literature about Arlington in order to attract businessmen to the city and organized merchants to represent the Commercial Club in parades.

McBride suffered two setbacks in 1909. His law office in Arlington burned in a fire in March of that year. In the fire he lost his personal library and suffered property damage equaling $500. The following month he lost the election for city attorney to his opponent, Jo Burney, by a vote of 144 to 132.

In 1911 McBride joined the R. E. Lee Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He was also active in the Good Roads Movement in Arlington and served as a member of the legal committee responsible for determining the feasibility of a million-dollar roads and bridges bond. The committee was also responsible for drafting an order for the election that met the legal requirements of the state. The Good Roads advocates emerged victorious as the bond measure passed with more than 1,000 votes in favor. This bond was to go towards the construction of reliable roads and bridges that would connect Fort Worth and Arlington.

By 1913 McBride had retired from public service as his health had diminished to a point where he required the constant care of a physician. His wife, Mary, died on May 29, 1917. Three months later, on August 23, 1917, Samuel Benjamin McBride died of kidney disease at St. Paul’s Sanitarium in Dallas. He was seventy-seven years old. His body was taken to Fort Worth and buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

Austin Weekly Statesman, May 2, 1895. Gregg Cantrell, “‘Our Very Pronounced Theory of Equal Rights to All’: Race, Citizenship, and Populism in the South Texas Borderlands,” Journal of American History (December 2013). Gregg Cantrell, The People’s Revolt: Texas Populists and the Roots of American Liberalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020). Dallas Morning News, August 25, 1917. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 22, 1911; December 20, 1911; May 30, 1917; August 24, 1917. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Samuel McBride (https://lrl.texas.gov/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=3547&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=mcbride~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=#1), accessed May 6, 2021. San Marcos Free Press, September 14, 1878; January 3, 1880; November 23, 1882; April 19, 1883; August 16, 1883; September 20, 1883.

Categories:

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Politics and Government
  • Civic and Community Leaders
  • Government Officials
  • House
  • State Legislators
  • Eighteenth Legislature (1883-1884)
  • Twenty-fourth Legislature (1895)

Time Periods:

  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era

Places:

  • Central Texas
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region

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

Justin Jolly, “McBride, Samuel Bender,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/mcbride-bamuel-bender.

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May 12, 2021
May 13, 2021

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