Col. John F. Strickland, 1860-1921

From The Courier-Gazette, McKinney, TX 21 May 1921:

J. F. Strickland Drops Dead in Dallas Home:

J. F. Strickland, long prominent in business circles in this city and State, dropped dead at his home, 3705 Rawlins street, Oak Lawn, this morning shortly before 10 o’clock.

Mr. Strickland was a native of Alabama. He came to Texas in 1879 and his boyhood days were spent in Ellis county. He came to Dallas in 1904 and attracted Nation-wide attention by his success in financing and building the Dallas-Sherman-Denison interurban Line. After that he built the line to Waco, and also the one from Dallas to Corsicana. He once said it was his ambition to build electric lines which would connect every large city. Had his ambition been realized, he would have had a transportation system equalling that of any steam railroad in the Southwest.

Strickland was a member of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers’ Association, City Club, President of the Texas Electric Company, president of Dallas Power and light Company and president of the Dallas Railway Company, president of Texas Electric Railway, president of Securities Company, president of Dallas Union Trust Company and active vice chairman the Texas Land Syndicate.”

After he arrived in Texas, he began working on the farm of O. B. Sims in Waxahachie. With his savings, he purchased a team of oxen which he used to earn money from plowing for farmers in the vicinity of Milford. With these earnings, he purchased a cotton gin in Avalon. The cotton gin burned to the ground at some point and Strickland took the insurance proceeds and returned to Waxahachie. After that, he worked in the grocery business and eventually became owner of the store, eventually transitioning from retail to wholesale grocery sales. He expanded his business interests, owning ice houses and real estate.

His interest in electrical development led him to start the Waxahachie Light, Power and Water Company that did not take hold, but led to a successor company, Waxahachie Electric Light Company where he served as manager. He expanded his business interests and moved to Dallas in 1904. In Dallas, he invested in companies related to electrical service including a venture with Osce Goodwin and Judge M. B. Templeton which became Texas Power and Light Company. He and other associates formed the Texas Traction Company and between 1906 and 1908 they had created the Interurban rail car system that operated between Denison, Sherman and McKinney.

At the time of his death in 1921, he was serving as president of Texas Power and Light Company (the entity which eventually became Oncore Electric Delivery), Dallas Power and Light Company, Texas Electric Railway, the Dallas Street Railway Company and Dallas Securities Company. Strickland was a long time member of First Baptist Church of Dallas and the memorial service was performed by Dr. George W. Truett.

Robert L. Johnson, in T.P. & L., First Sixty Years has written this concerning Strickland “…as a business associate he was a genius, combining many elements rarely found in number and degree in a single individual. He possessed sagacity, wisdom and vision, which were exemplified by the great works he has wrought and executed. Not less conspicuously he was endowed with honesty, integrity and fidelity. Untiring industry and unceasing perseverance were among his many marked characteristics. He commanded the respect and confidence of those with whom he was associated and impressed them that he could consummate any undertaking within his contemplation. He believed in honesty as a principle, in fair dealing as an obligation, in the welfare of others as a duty. He had faith in his fellow man, sought always to find the good in others; and other men had faith in him because they found him worthy of their faith, and they believed in him and trusted him.”

To learn more about Col. Strickland and the Interurban, please see:
Blog for Ellis County History
Plano Interurban Museum

© 2015, all rights reserved.