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SCOTT, WILLIAM THOMAS

SCOTT, WILLIAM THOMAS (1811–1887). William Thomas (Colonel Buck) Scott, legislator and planter, son of Thomas and Mary (Keller) Scott, was born in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, on December 14, 1811. His father had arrived with his widowed mother and other family members in Louisiana about 1808. After his marriage to Mary Keller, the family moved first to Wilkinson County and then to Copiah County, Mississippi. Thomas Scott never fully recovered from wounds he received at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, and he died in 1823, leaving his widow and several small children. William Thomas Scott was forced to go to work at an early age at the store owned by Judge Buckner Harris in Gallatin, Mississippi. Hard work and perseverance resulted in his gaining a lucrative partnership with Harris. Profits from the business also enabled him to acquire land and additional capital. On March 8, 1834, he married Mary Washington Rose, daughter of William Pinckney Rose. William and Mary Rose Scott, along with her parents and others of the Rose and Scott families, immigrated to Texas in June 1840 and settled in Harrison County. Scott quickly acquired several large parcels of land and established five cotton plantations, including Scottsville Plantation, near Scottsville, a town he founded. He was the largest slave owner in the county. His production in 1859 of 356 bales of cotton was the largest in Harrison County. In addition to his agricultural pursuits Scott was a partner in a New Orleans cotton-brokerage firm. For several years before the Civil War he maintained a home on Apollo Street during the winter as he worked with the firm. This also enabled his children to take advantage of the schools in the city.

Scott was elected to the House of Representatives of the last Congress of the Republic of Texas and was a member of the Senate of the First Texas Legislature in 1846. He declined reelection the next term because of an eye affliction, but was elected to the state Senate in 1851 and served until 1856. He was a member of the Secession Convention of 1861. After his disfranchisement was lifted by President Andrew Johnson he again entered political life. He was returned to the Texas Senate from 1879 to 1882.

During his legislative career Scott championed the cause of railroad construction. In 1852 he introduced the bill chartering the Vicksburg and El Paso Railroad. He, along with eight other men, was listed as an incorporator of the company. A charter amendment in 1856, achieved over the veto of Governor E. M. Pease, renamed the company the Southern Pacific Railroad Company (no connection with the modern company of the same name). Only a few miles of track was actually laid before the onset of the Civil War. After the war, most of the incorporators, including Scott, had lost most of their assets. Stock and control of the line were sold to other investors, who then began construction under the reorganized company called the Texas and Pacific Railway. Scott served on the board of directors of the company and as vice president from 1859 to 1861. Scott died at Scottsville Plantation on November 1, 1887, and was buried in the Scottsville Cemetery next to his wife.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Carol Morris Little, Historic Harrison County (Longview, Texas, 1984). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Tom Scott III

Citation

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

Tom Scott III, "SCOTT, WILLIAM THOMAS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsc30), accessed November 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.