The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

the facts imply a close coordination between Andrews and Charles
Elliot, British Charg6 d'Affaires in Texas, which is explored neither
by her nor by Elliot's biographer.
Northwestern State College of Louisiana TOM HENDERSON WELLS
John Henry Kirby: Prince of the Pines. By Mary Lasswell. Austin
(The Encino Press), 1967. Pp. xv+203. Illustrations, bibliogra-
phy. $8.50.
"When Mr. John Henry Kirby turns over in the morning and
stretches, it is daylight in East Texas!" the saying went during Kirby's
lifetime. "Every rooster in the Piney Woods flaps his wings an' crows.
'Bout thirty minutes after that, every nigger in the Piney Woods picks
up his axe an' goes to work for Mr. John Henry Kirby." Kirby built
a showplace mansion in Houston and was instrumental in the develop-
ment of the Houston Ship Channel. His biographer, Mary Lasswell,
dubs him Texas' "first home-grown multimillionaire," and a governor
once called him "the Father of Industrial Texas." Kirby himself de-
clined to run for governor on the grounds-no doubt valid-that he
was more useful to his state as an industrialist. Yet a generation after
his death, he is all but forgotten even in the city where his name was
once a household word. His mansion, now neglected, stands in the
edge of downtown Houston, at present with a "For Sale" sign on the
lawn and is better known locally as the outgrown headquarters of the
Red Cross than as his home. Few Houstonians know why Kirby Drive
was so named, and a prominent official at the Port of Houston upon
hearing the name recently inquired: "And WHO was John Henry
Kirby?" Houstonians who recognize the name at all are more likely
to associate it with historic bankruptcy proceedings than with Kirby's
This book is an effort to rescue from oblivion John Henry Kirby,
who as lawyer, banker, industrialist, publisher, and lumberman helped
lay the foundations for twentieth-century Texas. Mary Lasswell traces
Kirby's career from his humble beginnings in East Texas, through his
rise to prominence, and to his final financial ruin. She gives special
attention to the circumstances attending the incorporation of the Hous-
ton Oil and Kirby Lumber companies and touches on Kirby's close
association with controversial Senator Joseph Weldon Bailey.
Serious students will regret that the book lacks footnotes and index


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 24, 2016.

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