Curtains for Jim Crow: Law, Race, and
the Texas Railroads
WILLIAM S. OSBORN*
ON SEPTEMBER 15, 1893, THOMAS W. CAIN, A BLACK RESIDENT OF
Galveston, was visiting in St. Louis, Missouri. He purchased a ticket
for rail travel home and paid an extra fare for a berth in a Pullman car.
His trip began without incident. At Longview, Texas, this Pullman car was
switched onto an International & Great Northern Railroad Company
train bound for Galveston. Upon arrival at Troup, Texas, I. & G. N. train-
masterJ. C. Gregory announced to Cain that his presence in the sleeping
car with whites violated a new state statute. This statute, the first Texas
law regarding segregation on the railways, had passed in the 1891 legisla-
tive session. It required separate coaches or compartments for white and
black passengers. Trainmaster Gregory instructed Cain to move from his
Pullman car to a day coach assigned to blacks only. Cain objected but to
no avail. He was refunded $2, this sum being the premium fare calculat-
ed for Pullman travel on the remainder of his journey.'
* William S. Osborn obtained a B.S. in geology from Brown University in 1981 and aJ.D.
from the University of Texas School of Law in 1984. He was employed by the Railroad
Commission of Texas from 1983 to 1989 and presently practices oil and gas law with the Austin
firm of Patman & Osborn.
The author desires to acknowledge the assistance of Connie Menninger of the Kansas History
Center at Topeka, archival custodian of certain records of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe
Railway Company; Louis Marchiafava of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, which
holds more than four hundred boxes of files from the Santa Fe's Texas legal department dating
from 1900oo to 1965; the staff of the Texas State Archives; Dr. T. Lindsay Baker, who has given
countless hours as a mentor and critic to the author's efforts; noted authors John Miller Morris
and Carolyn Osborn; Railroad Commission Librarian Susan Rhyne; George C. Werner, who is
one of the foremost experts on the history of Texas railroads; Austin attorneys Joe Osborn and
Jim Cousar; former Assistant Attorney General Linward Shivers; and Santa Fe histoncal expert
Matt Zebrowski. Law partner Phlihp F. Patman provided invaluable editorial comments and
encouragement, and partner Ana Maria Marsland provided research assistance. Special thanks
to TSHA editors Holly Zumwalt Taylor and Theresa Ann Case for their patience and careful
attention to detail. Donna Osborn kindly tolerates the interruption of attention to family affairs
provoked by the author's historical interests. Readers with information or photographs pertinent
to the subject of Jim Crow and the Texas railroads are invited to contact the author at wos-
firstname.lastname@example.org or by letter to 515 Congress Avenue, Suite 1704, Austin, Texas 78701.
'Pullman Palace Car Co., et al. v. Cam, 40 S.W. 220 (Tex. Civ. App., 1897).
VOL. CV, No. 3 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed January 29, 2015.