WORSHAM, WILLIAM BENJAMIN

Clark Wheeler

WORSHAM, WILLIAM BENJAMIN (1843–1915). William Benjamin (Uncle Dick) Worsham, rancher, businessman, and banker, was born to William Talbert and Minta Ann (Stokes) Worsham on February 8, 1843, in Callaway County, Missouri. The Civil War erupted when Worsham was eighteen. He joined the Union Army and served in the Fifteenth Missouri Cavalry in Capt. Samuel Roberts's company. Worsham survived the war, having seen action in Arkansas and Missouri. Following the war he remained in Missouri to farm and do construction work for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1868 he traveled to Texas and took a job as a cattle drover. He ran cattle from Texas to Kansas on the Chisholm Trail. In 1875 he married Nettie G. Collins in Pike County, Missouri. They had two children. In 1876 Worsham bought some land in Clay and Hardeman counties, locating for a time at Cambridge, and started his own ranch. Later in 1880 he purchased 20,000 acres in Foard County and 40,000 acres near Henrietta in North Texas. Worsham and a partner, J. R. Stephens, ran as many as 60,000 cattle on various tracts of land until 1882, when the partnership dissolved. Worsham tried his hand at mining copper on his ranch near Henrietta in 1875. The copper was of poor quality, and the venture was discontinued after a few months. He served as a member of the board for the Exchange National Bank of Dallas and opened up his own bank in Henrietta, the W. B. Worsham and Company Bank, in 1898. Worsham was a faithful Republican. He served as a delegate at several state conventions. He is credited with coining the term "nesters" in reference to farmers, who were regarded as the enemy by ranchers. The story is that one day while checking cattle, one of Worsham's cowboys saw at a distance the dwellings of farmers. He said they looked like bird's nests. The term spread throughout the Southwest. Worsham lived in Henrietta for many years and died there at his home on October 26, 1915, from tubercular meningitis. At the time of his death Worsham's estate was valued at one million dollars.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
Katherine Christian Douthitt, ed., Romance and Dim Trails (Dallas: Tardy, 1938). Hugh Nugent Fitzgerald, ed., Texans and Their State: A Newspaper Reference Work (2 vols., Houston: Texas Biographical Association, 1918). Buckley B. Paddock, ed., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis, 1906). William Charles Taylor, A History of Clay County (Austin: Jenkins, 1972).

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Citation

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Clark Wheeler, "WORSHAM, WILLIAM BENJAMIN," accessed December 12, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwo27.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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