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    George Washington Littlefield

    Pioneer Plainsman, Farmer, Soldier, Cattle Baron, Banker, Philanthropist

    By Luke Warm
    George Washington Littlefield
    George Washington Littlefield
    Photo Wikipedia Commons
    A Mississippian by birth, George Washington Littlefield entered Texas in 1850 at the age of eight. The family settled near the present-day ghost town of Belmont (Gonzales County).

    George attended one year of college at Baylor (then in Independence, Texas) but his father’s death pulled him out to manage the family plantation, which was near the junction of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers.

    At the outbreak of the Civil War, Littlefield enlisted in Terry’s Texas Rangers. He served as an acting commander in the battle of Shiloh and was elected commanding officer of Company I in May of 1862.
    Terry's Texas Rangers Statue, Austin Texas

    Surviving Members of Terry's Texas Rangers Gather at the Northside of their Monument on the Capitol Grounds in Austin (No date available)
    Is George Littlefield Present?
    Courtesy United Daughters of the Confederacy, Shropshire-Upton Chapter, Columbus, Texas

    He commanded the company through the battles of Perryville and Chickamauga. He married in January of 1863 during a trip back to Texas to recruit replacements.

    Severe wounds received at Mossy Creek (Tennessee) in December of that year nearly cost him his life. He was kept alive by his boyhood servant and just barely pulled through. His wounds made him a full major but ended his military service. He was discharged and returned to Gonzales County to begin a long recuperation.

    Two consecutive floods (1869 and 1870) washed out the plantation’s bottomlands and Littlefield teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. The only thing in abundance in Texas at that time was longhorn cattle. Littlefield decided to leave farming and drove his first herd to Kansas – resulting in a profit within 90 days.

    He shrewdly anticipated that the growth of railroads would eclipse the need for cattle drives and he began establishing ranches in Texas and New Mexico – one of which was the Yellow House Ranch – the site of what would become Littlefield, Texas.

    Littlefield moved to Austin in the early 1880s. Having two children die at birth, the Littlefields had no heirs. George engaged his twelve nephews and seventeen nieces in his various businesses – insuring loyalty and tight management.
    Austin TX - Littlefield Building Name
    TE photo, August 2010
    Littlefield Building, Austin, Texas

    Littlefield Building

    He organized the American National Bank - first located in the Driskill Hotel. In 1910, he laid the cornerstone for the beautiful eight-story Littlefield Building.

    Littlefield was made a regent of the University of Texas in 1911. He was the largest benefactor to that institution in its first 50 years, giving $3 million toward its improvements and maintenance in the last nine years of his life.
    Littlefield Fountain, Austin TX

    The Littlefield Fountain
    Coppini's Grand World War One Memorial
    TE Photo

    Littlefield Fountain

    Littlefield also financed Pompeo Coppini’s grand opus - the Littlefield Fountain on the campus of UT - designed to be a WWI memorial for UT alumni killed in the "War to end all wars."
    Littlefield Home, Austin Texas
    TE Photo, August 2010
    Littlefield Home
    Littlefield Home
    Perhap’s Littlefield’s most striking gift to the university was his residence. Littlefield died at this house November of 1920. He was interred in Austin’s Oakwood cemetery, joined fifteen years later by Alice. Close at hand is the grave of Nathan Stokes, Littlefield’s lifelong servant who had saved his life during the war.
    George W. Littlefield Grave, Austin, Texas
    The Littlefield Sarcophagus dominates the family plot
    - which includes family servants

    TE Photo, August 2010
    George W. Littlefield military tombstone, Austin, Texas

    The Military Tombstone
    TE Photo, August 2010

    Nathan Stokes Grave, Austin TX

    Nathan Stokes Tombstone
    Stokes served George from the time he was a boy - first as a slave and then as an employee, surviving GWL by 16 years and dying at 105 years of age.
    TE Photo, August 2010

    George W. Littlefield Marker “A Great Man Has Fallen”
    “A Great Man Has Fallen”
    TE Photo, August 2010
    George W Littlefield Marker in Littlefield Tx
    George W Littlefield Marker in Littlefield, Texas
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
    More Texas Centennial Memorials
    Littlefield Tx Depot
    Littlefield Depot
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, August 2009
    Littlefield, Texas
    ©John Troesser
    September 1, 2010

    Littlefield Related Stories:

  • Littlefield Home
  • The George Washington Littlefield Building
  • Littlefield, Texas
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