Moore, Hugh Benton (1874–1944)

By: Priscilla Myers Benham

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Hugh B. Moore, businessman and pioneer developer of Texas City, one of twelve children of Horatio R. and Anne (Hunt) Moore, was born on January 11, 1874, in Huntland, Tennessee. His paternal ancestors immigrated from Ireland to North Carolina in 1770 and fought in the American Revolution. Horatio Moore was an attorney, a Confederate commander, and a representative in the Tennessee legislature after Reconstruction. The Hunts were businessmen who founded Huntsville, Alabama, and Huntland, Tennessee. After a common school education, young Moore, a tall, blue-eyed blond, began working on railroads at age sixteen. He clerked for railroads in Texas, Mexico, and Arkansas and rose to the rank of general agent for the Kansas City Southern Railway in the Port Arthur office by 1902. In 1905 he became the resident general manager for the Texas City Transportation Company, which owned the terminal facilities. Though only thirty years old he brought to his new job fourteen years of experience with the transportation business. He also served as vice president for two subsidiary companies: the Texas City Company, which owned the townsite of the new port, and the Wolvin Line, the marine operation to Mexico and Panama. Before his move to Texas City Moore married Helen Edmunds, a nurse from Black River Falls, Wisconsin, on September 5, 1905, in Kansas City. She served two terms in the Texas legislature (see MOORE, HELEN EDMUNDS).

For the next thirty-nine years Moore dedicated himself to developing Texas City into an industrial port. He earned a reputation for being an honest, super salesman of his product, the port of Texas City. He was instrumental in bringing the United States Second Army Division to the port during the United States-Mexico crisis (1913–15). He directed the transport of United States troops and supplies to Veracruz aboard the Wolvin Line. In 1917 Gen. John J. Pershing appointed Moore commander of the Army Transport Service of all the ports and steamship operations of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, a role in which he moved supplies and equipment for 2,000,000 men. He received the Distinguished Service Medal (United States) and the Legion of Honor (France) in 1918. When the company was sold and reorganized in 1921, Moore became president of Texas City Terminal Railway Company, new owner of the facilities, and the Mainland Company, an investment firm that bought the townsite. Under his leadership five railroads served the Texas City port. He constantly updated terminal facilities, making it competitive with the ports of Galveston and Houston. He twice persuaded Congress to deepen the Texas City Channel, to construct a turning basin, and to construct a permanent dike in the channel. It was Moore's policy to sell land only to corporations that would begin industrial construction within six months. As a result Texas City became an active industrial port. He persuaded ten major petrochemical corporations to build in Texas City; the most important to the town's survival was Pan American (Amoco) in 1933. He secured the only tin smelter in the Western Hemisphere for Texas City. Through the Mainland Company Moore sold industrial and residential sites and developed roads and public utilities. He secured the inclusion of zoning laws when the city incorporated in 1911. Other community efforts included the founding of the Texas City National Bank (1907), the Texas City Board of Trade, the Mainland Chamber of Commerce, the Texas City Masonic Lodge, the Texas City Rotary Club, the city library, and a park. He was also a director of Second National Bank of Houston.

The Moores raised Helen's three nieces. Moore was a member of the Disciples of Christ. In May 1944, after all investment bonds for the townsite were redeemed, he retired. He died of pneumonia at his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 5, 1944. His grave is at Galveston Memorial Park in Hitchcock, Texas.

Sam Hanna Acheson, Herbert P. Gambrell, Mary Carter Toomey, and Alex M. Acheson, Jr., Texian Who's Who, Vol. 1 (Dallas: Texian, 1937). Galveston Daily News, September 23, 1968. Samuel Butler Graham and Ellen Newman, Galveston Community Book: A Historical and Biographical Record of Galveston and Galveston County (Galveston: Cawston, 1945). National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 36. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 5.

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

Priscilla Myers Benham, “Moore, Hugh Benton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 07, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995