Cannon, Benjamin Bartlett (1801–1859)

By: Jennifer Eckel

Type: Biography

Published: April 30, 2008

Updated: November 19, 2014

Benjamin Bartlett Cannon, state representative, was born on March 13, 1801, in Jefferson County, Tennessee, the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Edgar) Cannon. Cannon was educated as a lawyer, practiced as an attorney, and served as clerk of the chancery court in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Additionally he was active in state and local politics and was elected to the state legislature from Hamilton County. Benjamin Cannon married Eliza Tunnell of Knox County, Tennessee, on April 3, 1828; they had eight children. Soon after Texas statehood B. B. Cannon decided to move to Texas in search of good, inexpensive land and a warm, healthy climate for his ailing wife. Cannon traveled to Texas by riverboat and on foot and spent several months touring northeast Texas before purchasing land near Rusk in Cherokee County.

Benjamin Cannon and his family settled in Cherokee County during 1847 where he practiced law and operated a farm. After the death of his first wife on June 9, 1847, Cannon married Charlotte Miller of Rusk on December 13, 1848. Cannon and his family were active in the settlement and organization of Rusk and of Cherokee County. Cannon held appointed positions with the county government, helped to secure the charter for one of the county's earliest schools, the Cherokee Academy, worked to survey the land surrounding Rusk, operated a ferry on the Neches River, and was a charter member of Rusk's Cumberland Presbyterian Church. B. B. Cannon served in the Fourth and Fifth Texas legislatures as a representative of Cherokee County.

In addition to his other activities B. B. Cannon was a committed Mason. He held the highest office offered to Texas Masons, that of Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Texas. He was elected to the House of the Eighth Texas Legislature but died before he was sworn in. Benjamin Bartlett Cannon died on September 8, 1859, in San Augustine, Texas, where he had traveled to organize a meeting of Texas Masons. He is buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Cherokee County. His grave is marked with a Masonic headstone.

Hattie Joplin Roach, The Hills of Cherokee, Historical Sketches of Life in Cherokee County, Texas (1952; rpt., Fort Worth, 1976). Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas: Containing Biographical Sketches of the Representative Public, and Many Early Settled Families (Chicago: Battey, 1889; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).

  • Fourth Legislature (1851-1853)
  • Fifth Legislature (1853-1854)
  • House

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

Jennifer Eckel, “Cannon, Benjamin Bartlett,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 30, 2008
November 19, 2014