Jemison Land & Cattle Company

 "This web site is a tribute to the American Cotton Farmer, the last eight generations of Jemison cotton farmers, the Jemison Family and a special tribute to Lynn Hawkins Jemison co-owner of Jemison Land & Cattle Company."      

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Jemison History

Business Hall of Fame
Elbert S. Jemison
Elbert S. Jemison, Jr.
Jemison Mansion
Mary Jemison
Robert Jemison, Jr.
Science Hall of Fame
Sports Hall of Fame
William Jemison
William T. Van de Graaff
Elbert S. Jemison

Robert Jemison's Home

Country Side View of 
Home in Talladega


Front View

Elbert S. Jemison, a native of Talladega, Alabama, attended LaGrange College, read law in the office of L. E. Parsons, and was admitted to the bar in Talladega at an early age. He left for Texas soon afterward where he remained most of his life. He was a Colonel in the Confederate Army of Texas. After the war, he entered the Cotton Brokerage business and wholesale grocery business in Houston, Texas. He later purchased a seat on the New York Cotton Exchange, and was controlling stockholder and President of the Houston East Texas Railway Company, which he later sold to the Harriman Interest in New York, which is now part of the Southern Pacific system."1 

At the close of the war he married Miss McElhenny of Talladega, Alabama to whom he left an estate of over a million dollars. They had no children but were great benefactors of both their families, including his half-brothers by his father's second marriage, whom he adopted.

His father was Robert Jemison, who's home still stands in Talladega, built in 1849. The Talladega home is a designated National Historical Home. The surname of the first African-American woman astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison was taken from this family.  Robert Jemison was a brother to Samuel Jemison who was John W. Jemison great grandfather.


 from page 294, "The Historic Tales of Talladega", published 1959.


The Houston East and West Texas Railway Company was chartered on March 11, 1875, to build a narrow gauge railroad between Houston and Texarkana and to connect Houston with Corpus Christi and Laredo through Victoria and Goliad. Branch lines were projected to Tyler and Waco and from Goodrich to a point on the Sabine River. Only the line east of Houston was built, and then in the direction of Shreveport, Louisiana, rather than to Texarkana. The railroad was nicknamed the "Rabbit," and the line is still known by that name. The company's initials were said to stand for "Hell Either Way Taken." Paul Bremond was the first president of the railroad and invested most of his resources in the venture. Bremond was a firm believer in spiritualism and claimed that the spirit of Moseley Baker directed him to begin work on the HE&WT. The initial directors of the company were Bremond, F. A. Rice, S. C. Timpson, Henry Fox, W. D. Cleveland, Abraham Groesbeeck, and John Shearn. Other early stockholders included Thomas W. House, William R. Baker, Eber W. Cave, John T. Brady, William J. Hutchins, B. A. Botts, and Eugene Pillot. Many of the stockholders had been associated with Bremond during the early days of the Houston and Texas Central Railway Company. Construction of the HE&WT began on July 4, 1876. The first two locomotives, the Girard and the Centennial, were purchased by Bremond following their use at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. They arrived at Houston in late 1876. By April 1877 twenty miles had been completed. Cleveland, forty-three miles, was reached in the fall on 1878 and Livingston, seventy-one miles, a year later. The rails were laid to the railroad town of Lufkin, 118 miles, in 1882 and to Nacogdoches, 138 miles from Houston, by May 1883. The remaining fifty-three miles to the Sabine River were built by December 1885, and on January 26, 1886, the bridge was completed and the first train crossed between Texas and Louisiana. At the state boundary the 191-mile HE&WT connected with the affiliated forty-mile Shreveport and Houston Railway Company, and the two railroads formed a through line between Houston and Shreveport, Louisiana.

When the land grant law was repealed on April 2, 1882, the HE&WT had completed 120 miles of track and was entitled to receive 1,216,400 acres from the state. However, only sufficient land remained for the company to patent 787,200 acres in the Panhandle which it sold for $90,770. Bremond died on May 8, 1885, and his estate requested that the HE&WT be placed in receivership. A receiver, M. G. Howe, was appointed on July 8, 1885, and it was during the receivership that the line was completed to the Sabine River. However, the Union Trust Company of New York, which had purchased the first and second mortgage bonds of the HE&WT, intervened, and the railroad was sold under foreclosure to Elbert S. Jemison on August 2, 1892, under an agreement that ultimately resulted in the transfer of the railroad to a new HE&WT on May 6, 1893. The new company had been organized on February 28, 1893, under the original name and charter, with Jemison as president. Unfortunately, Bremond had made the ill-advised choice of narrow gauge for the HE&WT, which made a costly conversion necessary. On July 29, 1894, the entire line between Houston and Shreveport was converted from three foot gauge to 56½ inch gauge, which is commonly called standard gauge. In October 1899 the Southern Pacific Company gained control of the HE&WT. However, the railroad continued to be operated by its own organization until March 1, 1927, when it was leased to the Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company. The "Rabbit" was merged into the latter company on June 30, 1934.

Nancy Beck Young


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

Nancy Beck Young, "HOUSTON EAST AND WEST TEXAS RAILWAY," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 06, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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