Townes, Edgar E. (1878–1962)

By: Nowlin Randolph

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: August 12, 2020

Edgar E. Townes, attorney, was born on September 11, 1878, in San Saba, Texas, son of Kate Rector (Wildbahn) and John Charles Townes. He was educated in the Austin public schools, at Webb Preparatory School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, and at the University of Texas, from which he received a B.A. degree in 1900 and an LL.B. degree in 1902. In 1904 he married Elsie Garrett. He taught English at Texas A&M for one year, and in 1903, after the discovery of the Spindletop oilfield, he began the practice of law in Beaumont, where he specialized in the oil and gas industry. In 1917 he moved to Houston; there he wrote the original charter for the Humble Oil and Refining Company (see EXXON COMPANY, U.S.A.). Townes became general counsel of the company and, in 1918, a director; in 1933 he was vice president, a post he held until his retirement in 1943, when he entered the general practice of law in Houston. Townes was a founder of the South Texas School of Law and Commerce and served as its dean for twenty-six years. He was also a founder of South Texas Junior College (see UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON-DOWNTOWN). He was vice president of the Houston board of the Young Men's Christian Association and was elected director for life. He was vice president of the board of trustees of Baylor University and was active on the Houston board of Baylor University and the Baylor College of Medicine board. He was active in numerous Baptist Church activities. The Selective Service Medal was awarded to him for his services in World War II. For many years he was intersected in movements to protect the rights of the states, and he took an active part in several political campaigns in which this was the main issue. He was instrumental in organizing the Americans for Constitutional Government and served as its chairman. Townes died in Houston on January 31, 1962, and was survived by his widow and four children. He was buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Houston.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Education
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders
  • University Presidents and School Administrators
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Oil and Gas and Natural Resources Law
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Nowlin Randolph, “Townes, Edgar E.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

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August 12, 2020

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