Dickson, David Catchings (1818–1880)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 1, 1994

David Catchings Dickson, physician, legislator, civil servant, Confederate soldier, and lieutenant governor of Texas, was born in Pike County, Mississippi, on February 25, 1818, and at the age of twelve moved with his family to the Copiah County community of Georgetown. There he married Sophronia L. Magee. In 1841, after graduating from medical school in Lexington, Kentucky, Dixon and his wife moved with a group to the area of Anderson, Texas, then in Montgomery County (now in Grimes County). He served for a time as a surgeon in the Army of the Republic of Texas. On June 4, 1845, he was elected justice of the peace of Precinct Two in Montgomery County.

Dickson was elected to the House of Representatives of the First Texas Legislature on August 25, 1849, was reelected to the Third Legislature, and in 1851 was elected to the state's Fourth Legislature, which he served as speaker of the House. He continued to serve in almost every session of the state legislature until secession. By 1850 his property was assessed at $1,500. He then had two children. During his terms in the house he continued his medical practice in Grimes County. On February 12, 1853, he announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor, with Elisha M. Pease as the party's gubernatorial candidate. He and Pease were inaugurated on December 21, 1853. In 1855 Dickson ran for governor against Pease; he was endorsed by the American (Know-Nothing) party, though he was a staunch Democrat. Although defeated in his run for the statehouse, he was reelected to the House of Representatives on August 10, 1859, by a 175-vote majority. On November 16, 1859, when Dickson moved that Representative Basilio Benavides of Webb County be allowed an interpreter, the Dallas Herald (see DALLAS TIMES HERALD) responded: "Don't you think it would be a good idea to allow an interpreter apiece to all the members who cannot speak Spanish? There is as much reason in one as in the other." Dickson chose not to run for reelection in 1861. By 1860 his real estate was valued at $50,000 and his personal property at $130,000. At that time he was married to Nancy Ann E. (Magee) and was the father of seven children.

During the Civil War Dickson served as captain of a local militia company. On September 1, 1866, he was appointed financial agent of the Huntsville Penitentiary (see TEXAS STATE PENITENTIARY AT HUNTSVILLE). Governor James Webb Throckmorton praised Dickson's performance in that job, writing that he had "acted with much prudence in [his] purchases" and expressing himself "quite sure" that Dickson had "managed the whole affair better than it [had] ever been managed." In the penitentiary Dickson cared for convicts during a yellow fever epidemic.

After his service to the state penitentiary ended in 1867, when Throckmorton was removed from office as an "impediment to Reconstruction," Dixon retired to Grimes County, where he continued his medical practice. After his death he was buried in the family cemetery near his home at Anderson, on June 5, 1880. Dickson was a Mason. His papers are preserved at the Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Austin Texas State Gazette, August 25, February 12, June 18, December 27, 1853. Compiled Index to Elected and Appointed Officials of the Republic of Texas, 1835–1846 (Austin: State Archives, Texas State Library, 1981). Dallas Herald, August 10, November 16, 1859, September 1, 1866. David Catchings Dickson Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners
  • First Legislature (1846)
  • Third Legislature (1849-1850)
  • Fourth Legislature (1851-1853)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Dickson, David Catchings,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dickson-david-catchings.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994

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