Joseph Burton Dibrell, lawyer and politician, was born on December 1, 1855, in Whitley County, Kentucky, to J. B. and Margaret (Brawner) Dibrell. The family moved to Seguin, Texas, in December 1857. Dibrell attended the common schools of Guadalupe County before entering Emory and Henry College in Virginia, where he graduated in 1879. After returning to Seguin, he taught school for ten months and began studying law. He was admitted to the bar at Seguin in May 1882 and soon gained prominence as a lawyer and as a leader in the state Democratic party. Dibrell served as state senator from the Twenty-first District from 1894 to 1902. He was president pro tem of the Senate in 1897 and associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court from 1911 until 1913, when he resumed the practice of law in Seguin. He married Mollie E. Fennel of Seguin on June 21, 1882, and they had four children. After his first wife's death in 1898, he married Ella Peyton Dancy of Austin. They had three children before her death in 1920. Dibrell died at Seguin on April 11, 1934, and was buried in San Geronimo Cemetery.
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Austin American, April 12, 1934. Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). E. H. Loughery, Texas State Government (Austin: McLeod and Jackson, 1897). Niel John McArthur, The Twenty-seventh Legislature and State Administration of Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1901).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
W. W. White,
“Dibrell, Joseph Burton,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 1, 1994