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William Madison McDonald

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William Madison McDonald

William Madison McDonald (June 22, 1866 – July 5, 1950), nicknamed "Gooseneck Bill", was an African American politician and businessman of great influence in Texas.

Early life

Named after William Shakespeare and James Madison, he was born in College Mound, Texas little more than a year after the end of the American Civil War.[1] His father, George McDonald from Tennessee, was once owned by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, according to the Dallas Morning News.[1] His mother was Flora Scott McDonald of Alabama, described by one source as a "free woman"[2] and another as a "former slave".[3] George McDonald was a farmer and blacksmith. Flora died when William was a child, and George married Belle Crouch.[3]

As a teenager, William went to work for rancher and lawyer Captain Z. T. Adams, who began teaching him about business and law.[1][3] Graduating from high school in 1884, with the help of Adams and others, he attended Roger Williams University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Career

After graduation, he took the position of principal of an African American high school in Forney, Texas for several years. He married one of the teachers, Alice Gibson.

In 1892, he was elected to the Republican Party of Texas's state executive committee.[2] He was a power in state politics for over thirty years as a leader of the "Black and Tan" faction, teaming up with businessman Ned Green, the son of the wealthiest woman in America.[1][2][3] At the 1896 Republican National Convention, McDonald was given the unflattering nickname "Gooseneck Bill" by a Dallas Morning News reporter on account of the shape of his neck.[1] When his faction was driven from power in 1900 by the "Lily Whites", he turned his efforts to business, though he retained an interest in politics.[2]

He moved to Fort Worth in 1906 and founded the Fraternal Bank and Trust Company, the city's first African-American-owned bank.[1] His strong connections to African American fraternal organizations (he was elected Right Worshipful Grand Secretary of the African American Texas Masons in 1899, a post he kept for 50 years,[3] and was also the Supreme Grand Chief of the Seven Stars of Consolidation of America[4]) got him much of their business and was a key factor in the bank's success.[1] With their deposits, he was able to provide loans that African American entrepreneurs of the segregated era had difficulty obtaining from white-owned banks. He became, according to the Dallas Morning News, "probably Texas' first black millionaire."[1]

He died on July 5, 1950 in Fort Worth and was buried in Trinity Cemetery. He was survived by his fifth wife; his only child, a son, predeceased him by thirty years.[2]

Bibliography

  • Bundy, William Oliver. Life of William Madison McDonald, Ph. D. Bunker (1925). ASIN: B00085TUVW

References

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