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COTTON, GILES (ca. 1814–?). Giles (Jiles or Silas) Cotton, former slave and member of the Texas legislature, was born Silas Giles Cotton around 1814 in South Carolina. He may have been the son of a white plantation overseer and a slave mother. Apparently he was married by 1840 to a woman named Miley, and they had seven children. He arrived in Texas around 1852 and became a favored slave of Logan Stroud of Limestone County. He worked as a teamster transporting goods from the port of Galveston to the Limestone area. Sometime after emancipation he moved to the area of Calvert in Robertson County, where he worked as a farmer. Voters from Robertson, Leon, and Freestone counties elected him to the Texas House of Representatives in 1870. Although he reportedly missed many sessions of the Twelfth Legislature, he served on the Agriculture and Stock Raising Committee and supported legislation that made Calvert the Robertson County seat. The United States census for 1870 reported that Cotton and his wife, Rachel, could neither read nor write and lived with their seven children. Robertson County marriage records show that a formal marriage between the couple occurred on September 5, 1870. Cotton apparently died near Hammond in Robertson County by the early 1880s.


J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). Walter F. Cotton, History of Negroes of Limestone County from 1860 to 1939 (Mexia, Texas: Chatman and Merriwether, 1939). Francis T. Ingmire, Robertson County, Texas Marriage Records, 1838–1875 (St. Louis: Frances T. Ingmire, 1980). Doris Hollis Pemberton, Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing (Austin: Eakin Press, 1983). Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868–1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).

Paul M. Lucko


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Paul M. Lucko, "COTTON, GILES," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed July 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.