Armistead, William Thomas (1848–1920)

By: Carolyn Hyman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

William Thomas Armistead, politician, lawyer, and soldier, was born in Georgia on October 25, 1848. He enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, rose to the rank of captain, was wounded, and was taken prisoner. After the war he attended the University of Georgia, where he graduated in 1871. He moved immediately to Cass County, Texas, where he taught school for a year before settling in Jefferson and becoming the law partner of David B. Culberson. Armistead was a delegate to every state Democratic convention from 1874 through 1889, a member of the House of Representatives in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth legislatures, a senator in the Twentieth and Twenty-first legislatures, and a representative in the Twenty-fourth Legislature. He was best known as the author of the Texas antitrust law. In 1878 he was one of several defence attorneys in the notorious Diamond Bessie Murder Trial. After leaving political office in 1889 he opened a law firm in Jefferson in partnership with his brother James. He joined the State Bar of Texas in 1894. After his final term in the legislature he served on the Committee on Platform and Resolutions at the Democratic state convention in 1896. In 1915 he formed yet another law partnership with J. H. Benefield. Armistead was a bachelor, a Baptist, and a prominent Mason and Knight Templar. He died on September 1, 1920, at Jefferson and was buried in the Jefferson Cemetery.

John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939). George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, Supplement, Series 2 (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

Carolyn Hyman, “Armistead, William Thomas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994