Harry S. and Isabel C. Cameron Foundation
Harry Sellers Cameron was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 9, 1872, the son of W. S. and Estelle (Mulkey) Cameron, and was educated in the public schools of Washington, D.C. He attended the Christian Brothers College at Memphis, Tennessee, where he studied architectural and mechanical engineering.
Upon leaving school, Harry entered a machine shop as an apprentice and worked there four years. He lived and worked in Jackson, Mississippi and little Rock, Arkansas, before moving to Texas where he worked for the Portland Cement Company in Dallas. After a year in Dallas, Harry moved to the Texas Oil Fields in the Goose Creek area. He opened a small machine tools company (Humble Iron Works) in Humble, Texas, just a few blocks from his home. It specialized in repairs to oil field tools and equipment, and manufactured tools for special purpose drilling and other oil field operations.
In the early 1900’s, Texas oil well driller James S. Abercrombie, needed a device that would prevent his wells from blowing out and catching fire. He went to see a local machinist named Harry Cameron who had a reputation for being able to build anything. From stick drawings in the dirt, they came up with a design that they thought could accomplish this, and, Harry built the now famous “blow-out preventer”.
In 1907, Harry married Isabel Charlotte Trahan. Isabel was born April 15, 1884, one of 14 children of Voorse and Camille (Latour) Trahan, a Humble area farmer and landowner. Six children were born to Harry and Isabel: Harold (July 9, 1908-1935), Victor (March 10, 1910-January 29, 1984), Voorse (December 5, 1911-December 10, 1991 ), Estelle (April 10, 1915), Charlotte (October 5, 1917-August 8, 1993) and Frances (June 17, 1923).
In 1921, a partnership formed between Abercrombie and Cameron and the small machine tools company became Cameron Iron Works, Inc. Cameron Iron Works was the major provider of oil well supplies and specialty items, including tool joints, fishtail bits, drill collars, drive shoes and pump repair parts. located on major railroad lines in Houston, Cameron Iron Works had excellent shipping facilities that enabled them to provide exceptional service in dispatching tools and equipment to the oil fields surrounding Houston. Harry was a thorough mechanic, an affable and pleasant man whose business creed was summed up largely in one word, “service”. Cameron Iron Works, Inc. merged with Cooper Industries in 1989.
After a prolonged illness, Harry died on May 31, 1928. Isabel Cameron raised her 6 children, the youngest of whom was only 5 at the time of their father’s death. As Matriarch of the Cameron family, she assumed responsibility for the care and education of her children and management of the family wealth. Harold, the eldest son, died before the age of 27 from spinal meningitis. Her loving devotion to her children, her care and concern for the welfare of all mankind was evident by her participation in various Catholic Church and school projects and other civic and social service organizations Her commitment to donate the altar at St. Michael’s Church was the initial stepping stone for its construction.
Isabel was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, Catholic Daughters, and The Women’s Guild at St Michael’s and many other Catholic and civic organizations She attended mass daily until she became ill in 1967. There are many great stories about the fun-loving, generous, and caring Isabel.
The Harry S. and Isabel C. Cameron Foundation was established by Isabel Cameron on March 11, 1966. Shortly after, Isabel Cameron died on November 23, 1967, but continued her commitment to charitable gifting by leaving three-fourths of her estate to the Cameron Foundation.