While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Diana J. Kleiner

ABRAMS, WILLIAM H. (1843–1926). William H. Abrams, railroad official and oilman, the son of Isaac and Ellen (Rittenhouse) Abrams, was born on January 10, 1843, in Peru, Illinois. He studied at Beloit College in Wisconsin and Monmouth College in Illinois, served in the Union Army in 1864–65, and graduated with a bachelor's degree from Monmouth in 1866. From October of that year until 1873 he was employed by the land department of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, later part of the Union Pacific system. On June 16, 1869, Abrams married Ella (Fanny) Murray Harris, with whom he had three sons. He lived in Marshall, Texas, from 1873 to 1875, after which he was employed by the Texas and Pacific Railway as land commissioner, succeeding James W. Throckmorton. In 1883 Abrams moved to Dallas, where he represented the land interests of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad and auxiliary lines, beginning in 1884.As the company extended the railroad from Fort Worth to El Paso and from Marshall to New Orleans, Abrams aided in establishing new towns along the line. As general agent for the Texas Pacific Land Trust he sold and administered up to four million acres of land and later leased thousands of acres for oil and gas development.

He also bought land and made another fortune from oil. The Abrams No. 1 oil well, drilled by the Texas Company (later Texaco), blew in on July 2, 1920, on Abrams's 1,650-acre tract in Brazoria County and established the West Columbia oilfield as a major field that produced up to 30,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Oil discovered on Abrams's land in Mitchell County that same year initiated some of the first petroleum production in the Permian Basin. Abrams was an Episcopalian and one of the founders of the Dallas Club. He died in Dallas on April 16, 1926, and was buried in that city.


Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Diana J. Kleiner, "ABRAMS, WILLIAM H.," accessed July 10, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fabzq.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on August 29, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...