Thomas Beck, who represented Walker, Madison, and Grimes counties in the Texas House of Representatives during the Fourteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth legislatures, was born in Kentucky about 1819, the son of Black and White parents. He came to Texas around 1842 and was a farmer in Navasota when he was first elected to the legislature in 1874. During the Fourteenth Legislature Beck served on the Privileges and Elections and the Agriculture and Stock Raising committees. He was also elected to the Sixteenth Legislature, which met in 1879; in it he served on the Roads, Bridges, and Ferries Committee. During the Seventeenth Legislature of 1881 Beck sat on the Agricultural and the Roads, Bridges, and Ferries committees. He successfully sponsored a bill designed to prevent individuals from employing children without their parents' consent and expressed interest in legislation that would increase the authority of local courts and fund Prairie View State Normal School (now Prairie View A&M University). According to the United States census report, Beck lived with his wife Martha, three children, and two grandchildren in 1880.
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Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868–1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).
Politics and Government
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Paul M. Lucko,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
Most Recent Revision Date:
September 30, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: