Bledsoe, William Harrison (1869–1936)

By: Michael Q. Hooks

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: April 16, 2019

William Harrison Bledsoe, attorney, politician, and investor, one of six children of Willis Scott and Susan (Harrison) Bledsoe, was born at Cleburne, Texas, on December 23, 1869. After attending public schools in Cleburne, he attended the University of Texas briefly and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1890. He returned to Cleburne to practice and joined his brother Albert for a time in a partnership. In 1908, lured by opportunities farther west, he moved to Lubbock and set up his practice. Although he first worked alone, he soon acquired partners, and he eventually helped to form Bledsoe, Crenshaw, and Dupree, a leading law firm in Lubbock. Bledsoe primarily handled cases involving land titles and ownership disputes. He also helped establish the South Plains Bar Association (1910), served as Lubbock City Attorney (1911), and was a member of the Lubbock School Board (1912).

Following the lead of his father in Johnson County, Bledsoe served in the Texas legislature. He was first elected in 1915 to the House of Representatives. He was chairman of two important house committees–that which investigated Governor James E. Ferguson in 1917 and voted to impeach him, and that which moved to reform the Texas Rangers in 1919. After serving two terms in the lower house, Bledsoe moved to the Senate in 1919. His most noteworthy accomplishment there was Senate Bill 103, which established Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University). The Locating Board selected Lubbock, Bledsoe's adopted hometown, as the site for the new college. Bledsoe, who was mentioned several times as a possible candidate for higher statewide office, was seriously injured in an automobile accident in 1927. As a result, he withdrew from the campaign for reelection and never again sought elective office.

In addition to his legal and political career, he found time to invest in land, not only in Lubbock but in neighboring counties and in Ohio. He also owned an interest in a Virginia railroad. Bledsoe was a Mason and a member of the Woodmen of the World and the Knights of Pythias. During World War I he was chairman of the Lubbock chapter of the Four Minute Men. He also served on the legal advisory board for the draft. Bledsoe was married to Alice Mathews, who died in 1915. They had three children. He married Emma K. Boone, an attorney, and they had one son. Bledsoe was a member of the First Christian Church. He died on March 30, 1936, in Lubbock and was buried there.

William H. Bledsoe Papers, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University. Jane Gilmore Rushing and Kline A. Knall, Evolution of a University: Texas Tech's First Fifty Years (Austin: Madrona, 1975). Vertical File, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University. Homer Dale Wade, Establishment of Texas Technological College, 1916–1923 (Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1956).

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

Michael Q. Hooks, “Bledsoe, William Harrison,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
April 16, 2019