Liberty County History

An occasional gathering place for articles, documents, photographs, records and other ephemera dealing with the history of Liberty County, Texas.

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Kevin Ladd is director of the Wallisville Heritage Park at Wallisville, Chambers County, TX and lives in Hardin, TX. He is chairman of the Liberty County Historical Commission and writes for "Texas Illustrated," a monthly publication of the Liberty Gazette newspaper, which is devoted to local history and folklore.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Captain William Mitchell Logan (1802-1839)

First Sheriff of Liberty County, Texas

There is one of those 1936 Texas Centennial Markers that stands on the southeast corner of the Liberty County Courthouse lawn. When I was a kid, I used to think it was the last resting place of someone important, but I never felt free to venture up there and read the inscription. I later learned that this was simply an impressive granite marker honoring the life and legacy of Captain William M. Logan, the first sheriff of Liberty County. The monument was erected in 1943, seven years after the Texas Centennial.

The inscription tells the bare outlines of his life:

Captain William M. Logan
Born in North Carolina
September 17, 1802
Moved to Liberty 1832
Died in Houston, November 22, 1839

Organized and Commanded 3rd Co.
2nd Regiment Texas Volunteers
Battle of San Jacinto

First Sheriff of Liberty County

That’s the basic outlines, but there’s a better story waiting to be told. He was born William Mitchell Logan in North Carolina, just as the monument says, one of several children to grace the household of William and Catherine (Henderson) Logan. He was only about a year old when his parents made the move to Williamson County, Tennessee. He lived with a family friend in Nashville when he was just a young fellow, which allowed him to attend school there. William and three of his brothers – John, Newton Wilson and James Henderson Logan – set out for Texas in 1829. Everyone stayed in Jackson, Mississippi for a while, but William continued on to Texas alone in 1830. He was, by the way, a first cousin to Texas Governor James Pinckney Henderson.

He bought and sold a great deal of land. After organizing the aforementioned Third Company of the Second Texas Volunteers Regiment, Captain Logan came back to Liberty and became the first sheriff of the county in 1837. He served only a two year term, but it was a big county that embraced what is now Liberty and Chambers counties, along with part of Hardin and Polk counties. Being a surveyor, Logan helped many of the soldiers get their land grants located on the ground and surveyed. He was usually paid in land since that was more plentiful than ready cash. One researcher contends that Logan eventually had contracts to survey and locate over two hundred thousand acres of land. He may have owned as many as a half a million acres when he died.

William Mitchell Logan was in Houston on business when he contracted yellow fever and died. He is believed to be buried in Founders Memorial Park in Houston, but his real monument is right here on the lawn of the Courthouse.

HOUSTON MORNING STAR
November 23, 1839, Page 2

The friends and acquaintances of Capt. William M. Logan, deceased, are requested to attend his funeral, this morning at 11 o'clock, to proceed from the city Hotel. Nov. 23.
Died in this city, yesterday morning, [Nov. 22d] in the 30th year of his age, Captain William LOGAN, of the county of Liberty.
If unaffected modesty, joined to sterling worth, forms any right to a passing notice of tribute, then merit added to virtue, the subject of this communication, richly deserves an eulogy from a more competent source.
Capt. Logan was a lieutenant at the siege of Bexar, and was in various engagements which occurred during that period--and he also commanded a volunteer company at the battle of San Jacinto. His merit as a soldier was known and felt both by the commander-in-chief and his fellow-citizens. When order was restored to our Republic, he was elected by the citizens of his county to the office of sheriff, which post he held at the time of his death. But in our devoted city, "The angel of death spread his wings on the blast," and has spared none. The best of our citizens have been taken from us; and we have but to bow with submission to the Almighty's power, who has seen fit to deprive us of their society, and to live in the belief that "Whatever is, is right."

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