The name Henry King McHarg may not have much of a ring with most De Leon citizens, yet he had a significant impact on the town through the Texas Central Railroad.

    He was born in 1851 or 1852 in Albany, New York to John McHarg (1813-1884) and Martha Whipple Patch McHarg.  His grandparents were William McHarg (1778-1865) and Sophie King McHarg.  John was a wholesale dry goods merchant who had received an appointment from President Lincoln in 1861 as Assistant Quartermaster of Volunteers with the rank of Captain.    

    Henry received part of his education at the Albany Academy and at private schools before attending Walnut Hill School, a boarding school in Geneva, New York run by Reverend Thomas C. Reeds. 

    At age 15 he became a clerk in the New York City banking firm of Lockwood & Co.  By 1872 at the age of 20, he purchased a seat in the New York Stock Exchange and later served as one of the governors of the exchange.   He formed the brokerage firm of Adams & McHarg which invested heavily in railroads.

    He served as president of the Virginia Iron, Coal, & Coke Company, President and a Director of the Detroit and Mackinac Railway Co. where his son, Henry Jr. served as Vice President, Director and General Manager.  Henry Jr. first entered the railroad business in 1901 at the age of 18 with the Texas Central Railroad.

     Henry Sr. also was the President the Virginia & Southwestern Railroad Co. which purchased the Holston River Railroad and was one of the owners of the Atlanta, Knoxville and Northern Railroad.  He was a director with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1906 and the New York Suburban Water Co. at Mount Vernon, New York in 1895.

   McHarg, Charles Moran (father of the Moran brothers) and Cornelius Gold acquired the Texas Central in 1891 following a lengthy court battle after the parent company Houston and Texas Central filed bankruptcy.

   Stamford, Conn. ultimately became Henry McHarg’s home. It is from that city that Stamford, Texas was named when it was  founded when the Texas Central was extended westward in 1900.

   In its June 5, 1910 edition, the New York Times reported that McHarg and the Moran Brothers who owned the controlling interest of the Texas Central Railroad were selling to R.H. Baker of Austin and that control would ultimately pass to the Missouri, Kansas & Texas then controlled by Edwin Hawley.

   It was reported that Henry acquired typhoid fever in October 1903 and was seriously ill.  However, he eventually recovered and lived until January 30, 1941.

   As a side note, Henry’s sister Sophie King McHarg married Horace Porter, a distinguished Union Officer who served on the staff of Ulysses Grant as aide de camp.  Born to Pennsylvania Governor David R. Porter, he graduated from West Point. He also received the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions during the Battle of Chickamagua. Following the Civil War, he remained as an aide to Grant and William T. Sherman until 1873.  He too had a career in the railroad industry, served as U.S. Ambassador to France and in 1897 wrote A biography of the president, “Campaigning With Grant”.


Sources: McHarg Family Papers, Georgetown University; New York Times; Speech of Hon. Charles W. Stenholm in the House of Representatives, U.S. Congress June 27, 2000; Peanut Line A History of the Texas Central Railroad.

HENRY KING McHARG