A Historical Column From The Fayette County Historical Commission and Fayette County Judge’s Office
By Connie F. Sneed
Jonathan Lane, a founder of The First National Bank of La Grange, was a cowboy, attorney and state senator. He was also a descendant of David Crockett of the Alamo fame.
Born in Decatur, Ala. in 1853, he was the son of Charles Joseph and Ellen (Crockett) Lane. His father was a Methodist minister, and his mother was a niece of David Crockett. At the age of 18 months, he was brought to Fayette County where he received his schooling. After graduation, he went to Goliad County, where he worked as a cowboy until he was 25 years old.
He then became a clerk in the J.M. Harrison General Merchandise Store in Flatonia. During his leisure hours, he studied law and courted Miss Alma Harrison, the daughter of his employer. They were married on Dec. 29, 1876 and had a daughter, who died in Houston about 1906, and an adopted son. Lane was admitted to the Texas bar in 1880.
He practiced law for several years in Flatonia and then later associated himself in La Grange with R.H. Phelps and J.C. Brown. The firm later became known as Brown, Lane & Garwood. From 1887 to 1891, Lane served in the state senate. While in the senate, he was named as a director of the First National Bank which was founded in 1888.
Lane later went to Houston and became a member of the law firm, Brown, Lane, Garwood & Parker. He also became very active in business ventures. He served as president of the Cane Belt Railroad, a 119-mile line that became a part of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe System. He served as president of the Thompson Brothers Lumber Co. of Trinity, a company with capital stock of $1.5 million. He was also president of the American Surety & Casualty Co. and of the Guarantee Life Insurance Co.
He was a member of the Democratic party and served as chairman of its state convention in 1892. He was a Shriner, Mason, Knight Templar, Knight of Pythias, and Methodist.
Lane died at Port Aransas on May 27, 1916, and was buried in the Flatonia City Cemetery.
According to an article in the Houston Post dated May 28, 1916 reporting Lane’s death earlier that week, it was written that “while always taking an active part in political affairs, Mr. Lane held only one political office in his life … His judgement on party matters was trusted by practically all the political leaders of the state.”
Honorary pallbearers included Gov. James E. Ferguson, Lt. Gov W.P. Hobby, and several judges. In an eulogy passed by the Harris County Bar Association, Lane was described as a “manly” man. He inherited the traits of courage and devotion to which he conceived to be the right from a father who amid the early settlements of a new county consecrated himself to the service of God and his fellow man.
References: Houston Post and The Handbook of Texas.