Born May 20, 1861 to Robert Chappell and Fredonia Charlotte (Stephens) Mayes in Mayfield, Kentucky, William Harding Mayes attended Paducah District Methodist College at Milburn, Kentucky, Norton’s English and Classical School at Union City, Tennessee and Vanderbilt University where he earned his law degree. His legal studies completed he was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1881 and practiced in Mayfield. Admitted to the Texas Bar in 1882 he practiced in Brownwood, Texas until 1886. From 1882 to 1883, he was Brown County’s county attorney. He was editor and publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin from 1887 to 1914. He served as president of the Texas Press Association from 1899 to 1901, and the National Editorial Association of the United States from 1908-09.
In 1912, he ran for lieutenant governor of Texas. “When announcing his candidacy, he declared that he would accept the office if the voters so desired, but refused to make speeches, to spend any money other than for postage or stationery, or to leave his job to campaign extensively.” (see page 61, Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 846-1995, printed by the Texas House of Representatives, Austin, Texas 1995). He won! And presided over the Senate of the 33rd Legislature from 1913-14. Mayes was the first newspaperman to hold the office of lieutenant governor of Texas. He did not seek re-election.
Leaving politics, he established the journalism school at the University of Texas, its first. He served as its first dean from 1914 to 1926. During his 12 year tenure as Dean, he also was the president of the Association of American Schools and Departments of Journalism. Mayes wrote at least one book, “Texas Empire Builders of 1936”.
In 1936 he served as Executive Vice-President of the Texas Centennial Committee. Mayes died June 26, 1939 in Austin and was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Texas.
(This posting created from the following resources: The Handbook of Texas – Online, www.tshaonline.org/handbook; Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846-1995, Published by the Texas Legislative Council, Revised 1995, Printed by the Texas House of Representatives, Austin, Texas; and Genealogy Trails at www.genealogytrails.com)