James B. Cranfill photo    J. B. Cranfil photo

Dr. James Britton Cranfil

Dr. James Britton Cranfill was born in Parker County, Texas, in 1859.  He was raised on a farm, spending about 3 months each year in school.  He spent almost 2 years as a Texas cowboy, and during all this time he carried his books tied to his saddle in order that he might read and study during his few spare moments.  At the age o 19 be became a teacher in a country school in Crawford, McLennan County.  Here he met the lady who was to be his wife, and at the age of 20 he was married to Miss Ollie Allen, of Crawford.  Soon thereafter he began the prosecution of his medical studies.  Having successfully passed his examinations, he commenced practicing his profession at Turnersville, Coryell County.  In 1881 he began the publication of a small paper called the Turnersville Effort, and the next year he established The Weekly Advance at Gatesville, the county-seat of the county.
     This at once openly and vigorously espoused the cause of Prohibition, and the editor's power and influence were felt  not only in his own county, but throughout the entire State.  At this time he was an ardent Democrat, and in 1884, when Cleveland was elected, was one of the speakers at the ratification meeting in his town.  He was a delegate the same year to the Democratic convention which met at Houston, and introduced at that convention a resolution against the liquor traffic.  It was very promptly laid on the table.  This, however, did not shake Dr. Cranfill's faith in the Democratic Party.  He became locally prominent in politics and was frequently urged to seek office, which he always declined to do.  He continued to denounce the liquor traffic.  In 1886, Dr. Cranfill being convinced that there was no hope of securing Prohibition through his party, resolved to organize the Prohibition Party in Texas.  In August, 1886, he called the first Prohibition Party convention of Texas, which met September 7, and nominated a State ticket, which the following November polled 19,000 votes.
     In 1886, he moved to Waco.  Soon thereafter the great campaign for Constitutional Prohibition began in Texas, and Dr. Cranfill took a position at once as the leading journalist on that side of the issue.  In 1889, he was elected to the superintendency of the Baptist mission work in Texas, and this placed him at the head of this great denomination in his native State.  Under his administration the mission work of the State doubled, and he has the distinction of having been the leader of the largest State mission work ever done in the history of the United States.  In January. Cranfill was ordained as a Baptist preacher by the First Baptist Church of Waco.
     Dr. Cranfill has held numerous positions of trust besides the ones mentioned,.  He was for several years chairman of the State Prohibition committee of Texas, was twice elected vice-president of the Baptist Young  People's Union of America, and is a member from Texas of the National Prohibition Committee.  At the national Prohibition convention which met at Cincinnatti in 1892, Dr. Cranfill was nominated for Vice-President of the United States.  He did several weeks of very active work during the campaign, canvassing the states of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.
     Dr. Cranfill is at present editor The Texas Baptist Standard, one of the most widely circulated Baptist papers in the Southern States.

-- Data from An Album of Representative Prohibitionists (1895).

James B. (James Britton Buchanan Boone) Cranfill was born in Parker County, Texas on 12 September 1858.  He died in Dallas on 28 December 1942.
     Cranfill was a school teacher, a doctor, a storekeeper, and a newspaper publisher.  He was taught medicine by his father and passed the state licensing examination in 1879.  In 1886, he moved to Waco, where he founded a temperance newspaper, the Waco Advance.  In 1888-89, he was financial secretary of Baylor University.  Ordained a Baptist minister in 1890, he served as superintendent of Baptist missions in Texas in 1890-92.  He wrote several books on religious themes.
     In 1892, Cranfill accepted the vice-presidential nomination of the Prohibition Party.
     [Had he been elected, Cranfill, only 34 years of age at the time, would have been ineligible to assume the office.]

-- Gammon, 2007, p. 47

-- See also in Wikipedia "James B. Cranfill."

Also see bibliographies:

  • Howe, E.F. (1892) – Biographical Sketches of General John Bidwell, Prohibition Nominee for President, and Dr. James B. Cranfill, Prohibition Nominee for Vice President, with Nominating Speeches, National Platform, and Bidwell’s Letter of Acceptance:  Redlands (California), The Facts
  • Hunt, R.D. (1942) – John Bidwell:  Prince of California Pioneers:  Caldwell (Idaho), Caxton
  • Royce, C.C. (1906) – John Bidwell:  Pioneer, Statesman, Philanthropist – A Biography:  Chico (Calif.), privately printed.