heard of M.N. Brewster? John W. McDonald?
How about W.C.
Anders … William N. Shaw … E. H. Vasmer…
Their names and many more on the list of Harris
County judges are not familiar to me.
But some others are -- including that of Chester H. Bryan. I remember
seeing that name on a ferry at Morgan's
Point long, long ago. At the time I didn't know who Chester
H. Bryan was. From the list, I see that Bryan served as Harris County
The name Spencer should ring a bell for anyone who drives a car
in the Pasadena/La
Porte area. Harris
County Judge R.H. Spencer, 1931-32, is the namesake of the well-traveled
Spencer Highway in southeast Harris
Ward Road in Baytown
was named after W.H. Ward, Harris
County judge of 1933-36.
The list of county judges goes back to the Republic
of Texas, and the first three were all veterans of the battle
of San Jacinto. They were Andrew Briscoe, serving from 1837-1839:
Isaac N. Moreland, 1840-42; and A.P. Thompson, 1843-1843.
Originally, the county judge's title was chief justice and the county
name was Harrisburg.
A merchant in Anahuac
in 1835, Andrew Briscoe helped to fan the fire of the Texas Revolution.
He opposed the customs dues collected by Mexican authorities and
presented resolutions of protest at a mass meeting there and later
After Mexican officials arrested him and DeWitt Clinton Harris,
none other than William B. Travis came to their rescue. They were
released when Travis and his volunteers drove Antonio Tenorio out
Briscoe later served as captain of the Liberty Volunteers at the
battle of Concepción and followed Ben
Milam to the siege
He was elected a delegate from his area with Lorenzo de Zavala to
attend the convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos,
but left before the convention was over. He had a war to fight.
At the battle
of San Jacinto Capt. Briscoe led Company A, Infantry Regulars.
Like Briscoe, Isaac Moreland was heavily involved in the rebellion
against Mexican authorities in 1835. Having moved to Texas from
Georgia in 1834, he lived in Anahuac
before relocating in Liberty.
Moreland authored the Anahuac Resolutions, signed on May 4, 1835,
protesting the taxation by customs officials.
In October 1835 he joined the Texas army. Gen.
Sam Houston appointed Moreland a captain of the First Regiment
of Infantry and ordered him to Harrisburg to establish a recruiting
At the battle
of San Jacinto, Moreland fired the Twin
Sisters cannons largely credited with winning the battle.
After his discharge from the army in 1837, he moved to Houston,
practicing law with former Texas president David G. Burnet of Lynchburg.
Moreland became the Harris
County judge three years later.
Besides manning the Twin
Sisters and in addition to writing the Anahuac Resolutions,
this Harris County
judge had another claim to fame. He helped Emily
West ("The Yellow Rose of Texas") obtain new papers to return
to her native New York.
lost her papers on the battle
of San Jacinto where she was held captive by the Mexican army.
Judge Moreland vouched for the fact that the servant girl from Morgan's
Point had been at the battlefield.
Algernon Thompson, who succeeded Moreland, was born in England.
He joined a battalion of New York volunteers in the Texas Army in
1835 and arrived in Texas in March 1836.
Thompson eventually left his company from New York and ended up
fighting at San Jacinto with Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment,
He worked in various government offices before his election to fill
the unexpired term of Moreland. Thompson served until July 27, 1846.
So there they were -- Briscoe, Moreland and Thompson, the earliest
In the era of the Texas Revolution and Republic
of Texas, those names were more than familiar. They were famous.
© Wanda Orton
Baytown Sun Columnist, May 2, 2015 column
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