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HELTON, JOSEPH KNOWLES

HELTON, JOSEPH KNOWLES (1817–1906). Joseph Knowles Helton, farmer, stock raiser, attorney, jurist, and state representative, was born in White County, Tennessee, on August 12, 1817, the son of Edward and Elizabeth (Knowles) Helton. Helton was raised and educated in Tennessee. He moved to Coffeeville, Yalobusha County, Mississippi, in 1836 and engaged in farming and husbandry. On July 25, 1839, Joseph Helton married Lucinda Mabry; this couple had five sons and three daughters. In 1842 Helton immigrated with his family to Texas, settling in Marshall, Harrison County, where he resumed his farming and stock-raising pursuits. The family moved again in 1853 to a 240-acre homestead immediately west of Meridian in contemporary McLennan County and present-day Bosque County. In addition to working the farm, Helton began reading law and established himself as a leading member of the community. He was admitted to the bar in 1857 and in 1861 won election as chief justice of Bosque County. He continued to serve the county in this capacity until 1866 when he was removed by Reconstruction authorities. Helton later won election as county judge, but his politics—having changed from Whig to ardent states'-rights Democrat—led to his removal and disenfranchisement in 1867.

In the elections of 1873 Helton returned to public office as presiding judge for Bosque County. Later in 1873 he won election as representative for the Nineteenth District—comprised of Coryell, McLennan, Bosque, Hamilton, Brown, Coleman, Runnels, and Comanche counties—to the Fourteenth Texas Legislature. At the conclusion of this session Helton returned to Bosque County where he resumed his responsibilities as presiding judge until 1880. At this point Helton went into semi-retirement, focused on his private practice, and co-founded the Bosque County Bar Association. In the spring of 1887 he led a contingent of Bosque County citizens in opposition to a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would prohibit the sale and manufacture of spirits. Helton died on September 16, 1906, and was buried at a family plot in Meridian, Bosque County. He was a Baptist and a member of Meridian Masonic Lodge No. 268.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

History of Texas, Supplemented with Biographical Mention of Many Families of the State (Chicago: Lewis, 1896). IGI Individual Record: "Joseph Knowles Helton" (http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=ancestorsearchresults.asp), accessed August 10, 2007. Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939). William C. Pool, Bosque Territory (Kyle, Texas: Chaparral, 1964).

Aragorn Storm Miller

Citation

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

Aragorn Storm Miller, "HELTON, JOSEPH KNOWLES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhe91), accessed December 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 24, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.