Billingsley, Virginia Catherine Shaw (ca. 1843–ca. 1920)

By: Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Virginia Billingsley, plantation businesswoman, was born about 1843, the daughter of D. C. and Amaryllis Shaw of Wayne County, Mississippi. She married James Bolivar Billingsley of Hinds County, Mississippi, on November 28, 1850, and moved with him in 1865 to settle on land that Billingsley had inherited from Willis Lang, near Marlin in Falls County, Texas. The couple had six children. Virginia Billingsley apparently took an active role in running the family estate after her husband's death in 1882. In 1889 she leased forty-eight acres of her land to former slave Dolly Lang in exchange for three bales of cotton yearly. She also was routinely involved in buying and selling working animals for the estate and was successful enough in her plantation management to be approached for loans on farm property. In 1903 she filed a lawsuit over damage done to her crops by neighboring stock. In all of her business dealings she was known as V. C. Billingsley. In addition to her plantation, she maintained a home in Waco between 1894 and 1901. She was an avid writer of personal essays and used them to express her strong religious beliefs. She also supported prohibition. She died around 1920.

Visit the Texas Women Project's standalone website

The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.

Visit Website

James Bolivar and Virginia Catherine Billingsley Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Ruthe Winegarten, Texas Women (Austin: Eakin Press, 1985).

  • Agriculture
  • Plantation Owners
  • Women
  • Business
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Central Texas

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

Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, “Billingsley, Virginia Catherine Shaw,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: