VONTRESS, EDWARD HUGHES
VONTRESS, EDWARD HUGHES (1825–1864). Edward Hughes Vontress, attorney, judge, state representative, and Confederate officer, was born in Warren County, Kentucky, in 1825. He was the son of Samuel G. and Maria A. (Hughes) Vontress. He graduated from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in 1845 and later attended Franklin College in Tennessee. In about 1850 Vontress immigrated to Texas and settled in Georgetown, Williamson County, where he opened a law firm with partner Thomas Proctor Hughes. Here he married Eunice A. Allen on February 25, 1858. This couple had two daughters and one son, though only one daughter survived to adulthood. Vontress was active in local and state politics. From 1853 to 1854 he represented Williamson and Burnet counties in the Fifth Texas Legislature, and in 1855 he was named a commissioner of the Austin and Galveston Railroad. When the Seventeenth Judicial District was created in 1856, Vontress was elected the first district judge. He served this district, composed of the counties of Williamson, Burnet, Lampasas, Llano, San Saba, McCulloch, and Brown, until the outbreak of the Civil War.
In November 1861 Vontress was granted a three-month leave from his judgeship by the state legislature. He traveled to his home state of Kentucky, where a breakaway Confederate government was recently established at the provisional capital of Bowling Green. Vontress fought there, under the command of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, until Bowling Green was abandoned in early 1862. He returned to Texas in the spring and was elected captain of Company A in Charles Leroy Morgan’s newly-formed cavalry battalion. Vontress fought with this unit in Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana until his death in June 1864. According to multiple sources, he and his horse were both killed by lightning outside of Alexandria, Louisiana, while riding to deliver a message to Gen. Richard Taylor.
Austin Southern Intelligencer May 27, 1857. Dallas Weekly Herald, July 16, 1864. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Edward Vontress (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=5278&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=vontress~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed June 10, 2014. Clara S. Scarbrough, ed. Williamson County Cemeteries, Volume I (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Historical Committee, 1975). Alice Gray Upchurch, "A Sketch History of San Saba County," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50 (July 1946).