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Governor Hardin Richard Runnels

Hardin R. Runnels 1989.037

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Hardin Richard Runnels was the sixth governor of Texas.  He was born in Mississippi to Hardin D. and Martha Darden Runnels in 1820.  After his father died, the future governor came to Texas in 1842 during the years of the Republic of Texas from Mississippi with his mother, his uncle Hiram George Runnels and his three brothers.  They first settled on the Brazos River before moving to Bowie County where they started a cotton plantation on the Red River near the community of Old Boston, named for an early store owner, W. J. Boston.  New Boston later arose when the rail lines bypassed Old Boston four miles to the north.  While still in his twenties, Runnels was elected in 1847 to the first of four terms in the Texas Legislature.  After his last term in the legislature in which he served as Speaker of the House, he was elected Lieutenant Governor serving under Governor Elisha M. Pease during the latter’s second and final term.

Runnels is known as the only person to defeat Sam Houston in an election.  He was elected governor over Houston in late 1956 and served from 1857 to 1859 when he lost to Houston in Runnels’ bid to serve a second term.  The two were opponents in areas including slavery with Runnels being for the institution of the African slave trade in Texas and with Houston, the hero of San Jacinto, being against it.  During his term as Governor, Runnels was known to be an advocate of the volatile issue states’ rights and had tried to secure the frontier for settlers of American-European lineage into areas formerly controlled by the native tribes.  On the latter issue, he was thought to have been less successful and he lost to Houston in 1858 by roughly the same margin as he had defeated Houston in the previous election.  After his unsuccessful reelection campaign, Runnels never again ran for public office.  However, he served as a delegate to both the Succession Convention immediately prior to the Civil War, and to the Constitutional Convention immediately after the War.  Runnels had once been engaged, but he never married.  He died on Christmas Day, 1873 and was first buried in a family plot there in Old Boston before being reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin in 1929.

His uncle, Hiram George Runnels had been born in Georgia in 1796 and had grown up with his family in Mississippi.  He had served in the United States Army during the Indian Wars in Mississippi, after which he was nominated by President James Monroe to serve as Collector of Customs and Inspector of Revenue for the Mississippi district of the Pearl River.  He later served from 1822 to 1830 as state auditor of Mississippi before being elected as a state representative in 1830.  After two years, he was elected the ninth Governor of Mississippi and served one term.  After his defeat he successfully ran again for the Mississippi state legislature and served another term before moving to Texas.

Runnels settled in Brazoria County and represented the County in the Convention of 1845 in which delegates voted for Texas to become a state in the United States.  He served one term in the Texas Legislature.  Runnels died in December of 1857 and is buried in Houston.  Runnels County was carved out of the then larger Bexar and Travis counties shortly thereafter and was eventually named for him.  The abandoned town of Runnels City served as the county seat until it moved to the current county seat of Ballinger.

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Posted by on March 26, 2020 in biography, county names, governor

 

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The Lubbock Brothers

Three brothers figure into the history of Texas.  They are Thomas, Francis and Henry Lubbock.  Colonel Thomas Saltus Lubbock is the brother for whom Lubbock county and the city of Lubbock is named.  He was born in South Carolina in 1817 and came to Texas early enough to participate in the Siege of Bexar in late 1835.  He was also a participant in the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition in 1841.  Thomas was captured in New Mexico while Texas troops were on their way to Santa Fe.  He was taken to Mexico and imprisoned, but was one of two individuals to be able to escape.  He later made his way back to Texas.  When the Civil War broke out, he first served in an irregular unit comprised mostly of former Texas soldiers and Texas Rangers as scouts for the Confederate Army.  He and some others later joined the Confederate Army and were founding members of “Terry’s Texas Rangers,” the 8th Texas Cavalry.  Lubbock was promoted to Colonel and put in command of the regiment after the death of Benjamin Franklin Terry but happened to be ill with typhoid fever at the time.  Thomas died the following day on January 9, 1862 before he could take command.  He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas.

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Posted by on February 6, 2020 in biography, civil war, county names, town names

 

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Thomas Jefferson Rusk

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Thomas Jefferson Rusk is considered to be one of the fathers of Texas.  He was born in South Carolina on December 5, 1803 to Irish immigrant John Rusk and his wife Mary Sterritt Rusk, and was one of seven children.  He had a modest upbringing as his father was a stone mason.  The family lived on the estate of John C. Calhoun who was his mentor.  Rusk studied the law and was admitted to the South Carolina bar.

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Posted by on February 14, 2019 in biography, county names, republic of texas, town names

 

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Robert McAlpin “Three Legged Willie” Williamson

Robert McAlpin “Three Legged Willie” Williamson

Robert McAlpin Williamson was born September 9, 1804 in Georgia to Judge William Peter Ballantine and Rebecca Ann McAlpin Williamson.  His mother Rebecca died when he was a baby.  He was well educated.  His legal career began in Georgia and he was admitted to the Georgia bar.  A family legend says that he left Georgia after a duel over the virtue of a woman.  His opponent was killed, but the woman did not want to have a relationship with him.  Williamson then moved to Texas in the mid 1820s and he settled in San Felipe de Austin where he is said to have become acquainted with William B. Travis.  After moving to Texas and settling in San Felipe, he served as city attorney and also as mayor.

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Posted by on January 31, 2019 in biography, county names, republic of texas

 

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Ben McCulloch

Benjamin McCulloch was one of twelve children.  He was born November 11, 1811 in Rutherford County, Tennessee to Alexander and Frances Fisher Lenoir McCulloch.  His father was a graduate of Yale College and served in the United States Army in Indian campaigns and also the War of 1812.  The family migrated west from the eastern coastal states.  Ben is thought to have first pursued some other businesses and moved around a lot until he came to Texas in 1835 with another brother and Davy Crockett, a neighbor, in Tennessee.  Ben planned to meet up with Crockett and then head from Nacogdoches to San Antonio but was held up as he recuperated from a case of the measles, not arriving in San Antonio until after the Battle of the Alamo.  He joined Sam Houston and the Texas Army in time for the Runaway Scrape, Houston’s retreat from Santa Anna.

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King Ranch

The King Ranch lies between Corpus Christi and Brownsville and is currently the largest ranch in Texas.  Historically, it was even larger when it was known as the Santa Gertrudis under a land grand from the King of Spain to José Domingo de la Garza.  It was later conveyed to José Pérez Ray whose descendants conveyed it in turn to Richard King.

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George Bernard Erath

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(Image credit: Waco Tribune Herald)

George Bernard Erath was born in Vienna, Austria in 1813.  He was educated at Vienna Polytechnic Institute where he studied liberal arts.  Young Erath lived on his own and worked for a few years in Europe, eventually setting sail for America.  One of the reasons given for his departure was that he did not want to be drafted into service for the Austrian Army.  Whatever his justification for not wanting to serve in Austria, he would show no reluctance whatsoever to fight for the State of Texas.  In fact, he spent years doing just that.  He arrived in America in the summer of 1832 in New Orleans.  He then worked in Cincinnati, Ohio before returning to the South again in Florence, Alabama for a short time.  Erath then relocated to Texas in 1833 where he would remain for the rest of his life, entering at Brazoria on the Gulf and settling in Robertson County.

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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in biography, county names, texas rangers

 

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