Jesse Billingsley, San Jacinto soldier, ranger, and legislator, was born on October 10, 1810, in Rutherford County, Tennessee, the son of Jeptha and Miriam (Randolph) Billingsley. In 1834 he moved to Mina, Texas. On November 17, 1835, he joined Capt. Robert M. Coleman's company of Mina Volunteers–forty-nine Bastrop County men, including George B. Erath. Billingsley served until December 17. When this unit mustered into Sam Houston's army at the beginning of the Texas Revolution, it was designated Company B of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, and on March 1, 1836, Billingsley was elected its captain. He commanded the company at the battle of San Jacinto, where he received a wound that crippled his left hand for life. The company disbanded at Mina on June 1. Billingsley thereafter served as a private in John C. Hunt's ranger company, from July 1 through October 1, 1836.
He was elected from Bastrop County to the House of Representatives of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas and is said to have "furnished his own grub, slept on his own blanket, and wor[n] a buckskin suit that he took from a Comanche Indian whom he killed in battle." Billingsley was reelected to the House of the Second Congress in 1837. In February 1839 he commanded a company of volunteers under Edward Burleson that pursued and engaged the band of Comanche raiders who had killed the widow of Robert Coleman and their son Albert and kidnapped their five-year-old son, Thomas. In 1842 Billingsley recruited volunteers to aid in the repulse of the invasion of Adrián Woll and fought with John C. Hays at the battle of Salado Creek. After annexation he served as a senator in the Fifth (1853–54) and Eighth (1859–61) legislatures. Billingsley died on October 1, 1880, and was buried in the front yard of his house near McDade. On September 3, 1929, he was reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin.