Garner, David Hess (1807–1864)

By: Mary B. Erickson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 6, 2019

David Hess Garner, soldier, sheriff, and Republic of Texas congressman, son of Bradley and Sarah Rachel (Harmon) Garner, Sr., was born in St. Landry or Rapides Parish, Louisiana, in 1807. His father was a native of Maryland who moved to Louisiana about 1790 and fought in the battle of New Orleans. David moved to Texas in 1825 with four of his seven siblings, Jacob Harmon Garner, Isaac Garner, Anne (who married Claiborne West), and Sarah (Mrs. John) McGaffey, and settled at Old Jefferson (the site of present Bridge City) on Cow Bayou.

To help resist Antonio López de Santa Anna in 1835, Capt. David Garner organized a company of volunteers. Armed with flintlock muskets and Bowie knives, his group of nineteen men, including his brother Jacob, set out for San Antonio. They arrived at the camp above Bexar on November 16, 1835. On December 4 Garner and his men were mustered into the company of James Chessher and Willis H. Landrum. Garner participated in the siege of Bexar under Gen. Benjamin R. Milam, which resulted in the capture of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos. He was discharged from the army on December 13, 1835. On January 22, 1838, he received a headright certificate for a third of a league of land in Jefferson County. For his service at Bexar he received a donation grant of 640 acres. On December 14, 1838, he received a bounty certificate for 320 acres for service from October 5 to December 13, 1835.

On September 18, 1839, Garner married Matilda Hampshire in Jefferson County. They became the parents of eleven children. The 1840, 1850, and 1860 census list Garner as a farmer and stock raiser. He was elected sheriff of Jefferson County in 1839. He was elected representative to the Fourth Congress of Texas (1839–40) and served one term. He was again elected sheriff of Jefferson County in 1843 and was reelected to the office in 1845. In 1855 he moved his family to old Indianola, where he continued to engage in the cattle business.

During the Civil War Garner, now too old to serve in the army, supplied the Confederate troops with beef. When his son Jacob Hampshire Garner, who had served in the Thirty-third Cavalry, returned home, he found his father penniless, though loaded with Confederate money and still a patriotic citizen of Texas. Garner died in old Indianola on April 10, 1864. His gravestone bears the Masonic emblem. His wife was a devoted Methodist.

James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Sheriffs

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

Mary B. Erickson, “Garner, David Hess,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 17, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 6, 2019