William R. Baker

William Robinson Baker (1820–1890) was a railroad executive, Texas State Senator and Mayor of Houston, Texas.

William Robinson Baker
Baker wm r.jpg
William Robinson Baker, Mayor of Houston
Mayor of Houston
In office
Preceded byAndrew J. Burke
Succeeded byDaniel C. Smith
State Senator
In office
Preceded byJames G. Tracy
Succeeded byJohn R. Henry
Personal details
BornMay 21, 1820
Baldwinsville, New York
DiedApril 30, 1890(1890-04-30) (aged 69)
Spouse(s)Hester E. (Runnels) Baker
ChildrenLucy Baker
ResidenceHouston, Texas

Early lifeEdit

Baker was born on May 21, 1820, in Baldwinsville, New York to Asa Baker and the former Hannah Robinson.[1] He lived in New York until age 17 at which time he moved to Houston in the Republic of Texas. There he was a bookkeeper for the Houston Town Company for about two years.[1][2] Starting around 1839, he managed a general store for two years.[2] In 1841, Baker successfully ran for County Clerk of Harris County, a position he held for 16 years. In December 1845, Baker married Hester E. Runnels. She was a niece of former Mississippi Governor Hiram Runnels.[1][2]


In 1852, Baker became the Secretary of the Texas Central Railroad, and in 1856, Secretary of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. He eventually became Director and the Vice President of the line. From 1868 to 1871 was President of the railroad, and from 1873 to 1875, served as Vice-President and Manager. He sold his interests and retired from the railroad business in 1877.[2]

According to the 1860 United States Census, Baker owned real estate valued at $300,000 and personal property valued at $75,000.[1][3] Baker was one of just twenty-eight Texans in 1860 with at least $200,000 real estate assets.[3]

In 1874, Baker was elected to the Texas Senate from the 16th District and served one term.[2]

Baker was the first Houston mayor to hold office for three terms,[4] serving the city from 1880 through 1886.[2] He failed in a bid for a fourth term in 1886 when he lost the election by just four votes.[5]


Baker died April 30, 1890.[1] He is buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Kleiner, Diana J. (September 7, 2016). "BAKER, WILLIAM ROBINSON". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "William Robinson Baker". Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas. New York: Southern Publishing Company. 1880. p. 70. OCLC 1843096.
  3. ^ a b Wooster, Ralph A. (1 January 1967). "Wealthy Texans, 1860". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 71 (2): 163–180. JSTOR 30240963.
  4. ^ Platt, Harold L. (1983). City Building in the New South. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 86.
  5. ^ Platt (1983), p. 98.
  6. ^ Turner, Suzanne and Joanne Seale Wilson (2010). Houston's Silent Garden: Glenwood Cemetery, 1871–2009. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. p. xviii. ISBN 978-1603441636.

External linksEdit

Texas Senate
Preceded by
James G. Tracy
Texas State Senator
from District 16 (Houston)

Succeeded by
John R. Henry
Political offices
Preceded by
Daniel C. Smith
Mayor of Houston
Succeeded by
Andrew J. Burke