Thomas M. Bagby, banker, civic leader, cotton factor, library patron, was born on May 18, 1814, to Daniel and Lucy Bagby. The family moved from Virginia to Montgomery, Tennessee in 1822, where Thomas grew up. In 1837, one year after its founding, Bagby moved to Houston and worked as a commission merchant and cotton factor. He married Marianna Baker on February 23, 1848. They had six children. Their home was on the site of the Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building. The family lived there until 1922, when they donated the property to the library.
Bagby was a Mason and a member of the Presbyterian Church. He also served an alderman for the Fourth Ward. On March 20, 1848, Bagby chartered the Houston Lyceum, which was the forerunner to the Houston Public Library and was one of the original nine members of the Houston Public Library. Bagby founded and was president of the Third National Bank in Houston. In 1866, he helped establish the Houston Direct Navigation Company to encourage barge transportation of cotton and bayou navigation and improvement.
Bagby was interested in horticulture, specifically roses. One variety he grew, Lady Banksia, was trained to grow the entire length of his front porch and was noted for its prolific blooms.
Thomas M. Bagby died on May 12, 1868, in Houston and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery, Bagby Street and the steamboat T.M. Bagby were named in his honor.