Driskill, Jesse Lincoln (1824–1890)

By: Mary Jayne Walsh

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 6, 2019

Jesse Lincoln Driskill, cattleman and builder of the Driskill Hotel in Austin, was born on November 4, 1824, in White County, Tennessee. He is a descendant of the O'Driscoll family, originally of County Cork, Ireland. Six Driscoll brothers came to America in 1775 and settled in Virginia. At the age of twenty-three Jesse Driskill moved to Barry County, Missouri, where he married Nancy Elizabeth Jane Day, originally from Columbus, Georgia, on September 5, 1847. The couple lived in Missouri four years and then moved to Bastrop, Texas. Driskill went into the merchandising business, moving first to San Antonio and later to San Marcos and Bryan. In 1857 he entered the cattle business, and for three years during the Civil War he furnished beef to the Confederate army and the Texas Rangers. Driskill was paid for his efforts in Confederate dollars and by the end of the war, with no cattle and no money, had gone broke. He began to rebuild his herds. In the early days of the Chisholm Trail, Driskill could be found driving cattle to northern markets with his brother-in-law, William H. Day. Driskill was said to have been an adventurous drover and fearless ranchman, and through persistence he became successful once again in the early Southwestern cattle trade. Business fell off sharply after 1871, when permanent residents of Abilene, Kansas, the destination of many trail drives, became fed up with the cattle trade and the wranglers. In that year Driskill moved his wife, four daughters, and two sons to Austin, the westernmost metropolis in the state at that time. He also continued on in the cattle trade, establishing ranches in South Texas, Kansas, and the Dakota territories. In 1885 he purchased the site for his future hotel, an entire city block for $7,500. The Driskill Hotel opened on December 20, 1886. For many years it served as a social and political center in Texas society. The Driskill family lost their fortune in 1888, when a late spring freeze on the northern plains killed 3,000 cattle. Payments on the hotel could not be met, and Driskill was forced to sell to S. E. McIlhenny. Driskill died, some said a broken man, on May 3, 1890, of a stroke.

Wayne Gard, "Retracing the Chisholm Trail," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (July 1956). Southwestern Historical Quarterly (Texas Collection, January 1967). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

Mary Jayne Walsh, “Driskill, Jesse Lincoln,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 24, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/driskill-jesse-lincoln.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 6, 2019