Booty, Augustus James (1840–1930)

By: Patricia Holm

Type: Biography

Published: April 25, 2007

Augustus James Booty, judge and legislator, was born in 1840 in Monroe County, Georgia, the third child of John Locke and Helena Mercer (Beall) Booty. John and Helena, together with members of the Booty and Jordan families and twenty-three slaves, made a 700-mile journey from Georgia to Texas. In 1856, John Booty built and taught at the Booty School, east of Beckville, Texas. His sons Augustus and James also taught there. The Booty School also served as a multi-denominational community center until 1887.

In 1861, Augustus "Gus" Booty had just completed his education at McKenzie College in Clarksville, Texas when the Civil War broke out. Second Lieutenant A. J. Booty joined Company F of the Tenth Texas Cavalry on September 25, 1861. Under Captain William D. Craig, Company F was assigned to protect homes and ration war munitions. Augustus was promoted to Captain around the time that Company F fought in the battle of Pea Ridge (Elk Horn Tavern) in northern Arkansas. The regiment went on to fight in the Battle of Stone's River in Murphreesboro, Tennessee, the Battle of Atlanta, Sherman's Vickburg to Meridian Campaign, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain, as well as dozens of other engagements throughout Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia.

In September of 1864 Captain Booty was captured in Tensas Parish, Louisiana and was committed to military prison in Natchez, Mississippi on September 30, 1864. He was then moved to New Orleans on October 15, 1864, onto Ship Island, Mississippi, and then transported to Fort Lafayette, New York Harbor on November 6, 1864. On December, 21, 1864, he was sent to Fort Warren, Massachusetts, George's Island in Boston Harbor, where he remained until his release on June 12, 1865.

Gus Booty married Elmina Chapman Maddox (or Maddux) on December 17, 1868 in Rusk County, Texas. While living in Carthage, Texas, Gus and Elmina had three children: Blanche, Augustus C., and Georgia.

In 1870, Booty, a Democrat, served District #5 (Panola and Rusk Counties) in the Twelfth Texas Legislature, then again in the Thirteenth Legislature of 1873. Gus Booty began practicing law in 1873 and served as District Judge of Panola, Shelby, Rusk and Harrison Counties from 1876–1884 and 1889–1891. During the hiatus as District Judge, Gus practiced law with the Booty and Young law firm in Marshall, Texas. In the election of 1878, Booty played an important role in the efforts of the Citizen's Party of Harrison County to regain Democratic control of the county. The party attempted to disenfranchise Republican voters by claiming that a voting box was incorrectly placed. As District Judge, Booty granted an injunction that deemed the votes illegal, giving the election to the Democratic candidate. When, in a counter move, Republican County Judge J.B. Williamson issued certificates of election to the Republican candidates, Judge Booty granted a second injunction barring the votes from the contested box. George Lane, one of the Democratic candidates, brought suit against Williamson in Booty's district court, and Booty, not surprisingly given his previous injunctions, decided in favor of the Democrats. The case went on to the Texas Supreme Court, but by the end of 1879 control of the county passed to the Citizen's Party and the Democrats.

Known to hold a large, black curved horn to his ear to aid his hearing, Gus moved to Fort Worth to continue practicing law with the firm of Wynne, McCarty, and Booty and later in partnership with Sidney L. Samuels. By 1899 Booty served on the faculty of the School of Law at Fort Worth University. Deafness forced him to retire, at age 75 to Tyler, Texas, where he was a member of Marvin Methodist Church. Augustus James Booty died on July 8, 1930 in Tyler, Texas (Smith County) and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

LaGrove, Leila B., A History of Panola County, Texas: 1819–1978( Carthage, Texas: Panola County Historical Commission, 1979). Randolph B. Campbell, A Southern Community in Crisis: Harrison County, Texas, 1850–1880 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983). Thomas F. Jordan, Jr., "An American Migration." (MA Thesis, Louisiana State University, May 1995). Confederate Military History, Vol. 11 (12 vols, Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Co., 1899). Tyler Journal, July 11, 1930.
  • Twelfth Legislature (1870-1871)
  • Thirteenth Legislature (1873)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Reconstruction

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

Patricia Holm, “Booty, Augustus James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 25, 2007