Wilson County TX Biographies
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James Charles Wilson

James Charles Wilson, senator, was born in Yorkshire, England, on August 24, 1816. He attended Oxford University before he moved to Texas in 1837. He joined Charles K. Reese's company for the Somervell expedition in 1842 and became a private in Company E on the Mier expedition under William S. Fisher. Captured with that expedition, he refused the proffered help of the British government on the grounds that he was an English citizen and remained in prison until he managed to escape on July 30, 1843. Back in Texas he lived in Brazoria, where he became district clerk on March 1, 1845. He represented Calhoun, Jackson, Matagorda, and Wharton counties in the House of the Third Legislature. From November 1851 to February 1852 he was a member of the Fourth Legislature and served again in the special session of the Fourth Legislature to February 7, 1853. In 1856 Wilson was elected commissioner of the court of claims. In addition to his legal career he was an itinerant minister in the Methodist Church. Wilson County, established in 1860, was named for him. Wilson died at Gonzales on February 7, 1861, and was buried in the Askey Cemetery. In 1936 he was reinterred in the State Cemetery in Austin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Zachary T. Fulmore, History and Geography of Texas As Told in County Names (Austin: Steck, 1915; facsimile, 1935). Hobart Huson, District Judges of Refugio County (Refugio, Texas: Refugio Timely Remarks, 1941). Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939).

William Lee Wright

William Lee (Will) Wright, famed captain of the Texas Rangers and sheriff of Wilson County, son of L. B. Wright and Ann Tumlinson, was born in Lockhart, Texas, on February 19, 1868. He moved to DeWitt County with his family; later he moved to Wilson County. Wright participated in the transition of the Texas Rangers from their horseback era in the early 1900s to the modern rangers of the Texas Department of Public Safety after 1935. Four rangers-the "Big Four"-had an enormous impact on this change: M. T. (Lone Wolf) Gonzaullas, F. A. (Frank) Hamer, Thomas R. Hickman, and Wright. Wright's belief that there should be less political interference and patronage in ranger affairs became one of the axioms of the new order. A talkative, bespectacled man who resembled Theodore Roosevelt, Wright took part in ranger operations in an intermittent way for nearly four decades. In his early life he became a cowboy on the Eckhardt Ranch in DeWitt County and the Rutledge Ranch in Karnes County. He served as a justice of the peace and in 1892 as a deputy sheriff of Wilson County. Then in 1898 Wright joined the Texas Rangers and ultimately became part of the company commanded by John M. Rogers. In 1902 he left the rangers and was elected sheriff of Wilson County. He was later elected president of the Texas Sheriffs' Association. He served in this post for fifteen years. In 1917 Governor William P. Hobby appointed Wright a ranger captain. He served in this capacity, except for a period of time between 1925 and 1927, until the end of the administration of Governor Ross S. Sterling in the early 1930s. Wright, called el capitán diablo (the devil captain), and the rangers under his command guarded the border during World War I, intervened in the railroad strikes of 1922, chased liquor smugglers, and brought law and order to such oil boom towns as Wink. Wright rejoined the rangers in 1935, served during the era of the Department of Public Safety, and left the service in 1939. So many relatives of Wright joined the Texas Rangers that they came be called, as one writer noted, "The Wright Family Rangers." Wright married Mary Ann (Molly) Brown in 1892; they had one daughter and six sons, two of whom were Texas Rangers. Milam H. Wright, a brother, also became a well-known ranger. Will Wright died on March 7, 1942, in Floresville.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ben H. Procter, Just One Riot: Episodes of Texas Rangers in the 20th Century (Austin: Eakin Press, 1991). William Warren Sterling, Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968). Walter Prescott Webb Papers, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982).

Manuel Jesus Ximenez

Manuel Jesus Ximenez, Wilson County sheriff, son of Esteban Ximenez and Theresa Haby G'sell de la Garza, was born in Graytown, Texas, on December 25, 1857. At an early age he moved to Lodi, one of the oldest settlements in Wilson County. His early formal education was limited, and he was mostly self-educated. His public career began around 1880. Ximenez served as tax assessor and collector, county clerk, deputy sheriff, and United States marshal in Wilson County. In 1890, 1892, and 1898 he was elected sheriff of Wilson County. Ximenez was a sheriff cut in the traditional pattern of most country lawmen, but he was ahead of his time when it came to moral and social issues. Before being elected sheriff he had labored for a more humane jail for the prisoners, and by the end of 1887 the new jail was completed. He brought reform to the area when he abolished the practice of lynching in Wilson County, and he ensured continuity of his philosophy in the department by surrounding himself with competent people whom he trained and advised. At the turn of the century Ximenez joined in the capture of Gregorio Cortez Lira for the murder of sheriffs from Karnes and Gonzales counties. In 1898 he assisted Theodore Roosevelt in recruiting and training the First United States Volunteer Cavalry (the Rough Riders) in the San Antonio area prior to Roosevelt's departure to Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Years later Ximenez was a guest of President Roosevelt at the White House. As a civic leader, Ximenez contributed to the Floresville Academy and also succeeded in having the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway pass through Floresville. Ximenez's first marriage was to Serafina Jacoba Olivares; they had six children. After Serafina's death, he married Josefina O. Lopez on November 3, 1893; they had two sons and four daughters. Ximenez died on January 11, 1911, and was buried at the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Floresville.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Arnoldo De León, The Tejano Community, 1836-1900 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). San Antonio Light, January 15, 1911. Louise Stadler, ed., Wilson County History (Dallas: Taylor, 1990).

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