On Sept. 23, 1900, Capt. James A. Baker, a Houston lawyer, banker and businessman, received an alarming telegram: His elderly millionaire client William Marsh Rice had died unexpectedly. Capt. Baker ultimately unraveled a plot to murder Rice and plunder his estate. Capt. Baker saved Rice"s fortune and championed the wishes of his deceased client by establishing the Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art -- today"s internationally acclaimed Rice University.
Capt. Baker and his partners transformed their law practice into Houston"s first nationally recognized law firm, which today is known globally as Baker Botts L.L.P. Capt. Baker chartered several Houston businesses and utility companies, developed two major regional banks, promoted real estate projects and instilled in his descendants a commitment to civic life. His grandson, James A. Baker, III, would serve as the nation"s 61st secretary of state and 67th secretary of the treasury.
In "Captain James A. Baker of Houston, 1857-1941," author Kate Sayen Kirkland explores the archival records of Baker and his family, firm and contemporaries. Published as part of Rice University"s Centennial Celebration, Kirkland's book weaves together the history of Houston and the story of one of its most influential citizens.