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ROGERS, JAMES HARRISON

ROGERS, JAMES HARRISON (1813–1903). James Harrison Rogers, Indian fighter, judge, and secessionist, the youngest son of eight children of James Peleg and Winnifred (Lane) Rogers, was born at Jefferson, Jackson County, Georgia, on October 18, 1813. His father died while Rogers was a child. Rogers was educated at Franklin College, Athens, Georgia. He was a commissioned officer of volunteers in the 1836 Creek Indian War and 1837 Cherokee "disturbances" in Alabama and Georgia and participated shortly after as a civil employee in the resettlement of the North Alabama Cherokees in Oklahoma Territory. After settling at Daingerfield, Texas, in 1843, he became a brigadier general in the Texas militia, but his principal vocation was the practice of law. Early in the Civil War he served as staff adjutant to Gen. Joseph Lewis Hogg at the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, and in 1863 was an assistant quartermaster of a unit of Texas state troops. In 1851 Rogers moved to Jefferson, Texas, and there joined two of his brothers in the practice of law. The following year he was appointed special judge of the Supreme Court of Texas and in 1856 produced the court's landmark opinion in Blount v. Webster. The court, by interpretation and construction, removed doubt cast upon many colonists' land titles by conflicts in colonization laws. Rogers also was judge for the Fifth Judicial District in 1874–75. As a trial lawyer he litigated to a successful conclusion the will of Robert Potter. The case, Lewis v. Ames, was a source for Elithe Hamilton Kirklandqv's popular novel, Love Is A Wild Assault (1959). The Supreme Court upheld Potter's will thirty years after his death. Rogers was a slaveowner, a delegate to the Secession Convention of 1861, and a member of the Public Safety Committee that functioned during the state's transition from the Union to the Confederacy. He was accredited by Governor Edward Clark to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, as agent of Texas to negotiate for reception of Texas troops into Confederate service and served as a commissioner to negotiate for and receive ordnance and stores released by Union authorities to the Texas and Louisiana state governments at the time the states seceded.

Rogers married Barbara B. Hogue, and they had four children. In 1854 he married Cozia A. Ochiltree, the daughter of William Beck Ochiltree. Rogers was active in the Masonic fraternity and served as grand senior warden of the Grand Lodge of Texas in 1855. Although he was a Methodist, he donated a lot to a small Jewish congregation for a synagogue in Jefferson. Rogers died at Sulphur Springs, Texas, on September 7, 1903. He is buried in an unmarked grave at the Oddfellows Cemetery in Sulphur Springs. His home, "the Manse," built in 1839 and reputed to be the oldest structure in Jefferson, is maintained as a historical showplace by a local garden club. His wife died in 1852.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

T. C. Chadick, "A Texas Portrait: James Harrison Rogers," Texas Bar Journal, April 1967. Helen Swenson, Early Texas News, 1831–1848: Abstracts From Early Texas Newspapers (1984; from Clarksville Northern Standard, June 3, 1848). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

T. C. Chadick

Citation

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

T. C. Chadick, "ROGERS, JAMES HARRISON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/frobp), accessed October 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.