Garner, Jacob Harmon (1814–1887)

By: W. T. Block and Sherwood P. McCall III

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: November 6, 2019

Jacob Harmon Garner, soldier, early settler, and government official, the fifth of seven children of Bradley and Sarah Rachel (Harmon) Garner, Sr., was born in either St. Landry or Rapides Parish, Louisiana, on January 12, 1814. About 1824 he and his siblings-including David Hess Garner and Anna Garner, who married Claiborne West-moved to Old Jefferson (now Bridge City), on Cow Bayou in Texas. In October 1835 Jacob volunteered to fight in the Texas Revolution, and on November 16 of that year he arrived as a lieutenant at the camp above Bexar with his brother David, now a captain. On November 26 he fought in the Grass Fight under Edward Burleson. In early December he was active in the siege of Bexar under Col. Benjamin R. Milam. About March 4, 1836, Garner joined Capt. William Milspaugh's company. By April 21, 1836, Milspaugh had been succeeded by Captain Patterson. On the day of the battle of San Jacinto Patterson had detailed Garner to serve as a guard in Liberty.

In October 1837 Garner served as a grand juror for Jefferson County. On February 16, 1838, he received a certificate for one-third league of land, and on March 8, 1839, he was issued a first-class augmentation land grant for two-thirds of a league and one labor of land. Garner married Matilda Hayes on November 29, 1838, in the house of Benjamin Johnson, a soldier in the battle of San Jacinto. On February 6, 1843, Garner was elected justice of the peace for the Cow Bayou precinct of Jefferson County. In January 1846, at the community of Sabine Pass, he was appointed "reviewer of the roads," an honorary position that paid no salary, and on July 13, 1846, he was elected district clerk of Jefferson County, a position he held until August 5, 1850. In February 1857 Garner was appointed overseer of roads, and in July of that year he was voted in as an alderman of the first city council at Sabine Pass.

He enlisted during the Civil War, on August 3, 1861, for three months in a cavalry company styled the Ben McCulloch Coast Guard; he was elected third lieutenant. Included among this company's enlistees was his son Leonard, who served until officials discovered that he was only fourteen. Leonard re-enlisted when he was seventeen.

In addition to his public and military service, Garner was a cattleman and farmer in Jefferson County, where he and his wife raised nine children. On January 24, 1885, he received a donation grant of 1,280 acres. On October 12, 1886, a hurricane struck suddenly at the coast of Sabine Pass. By the next day, a third of the local population had drowned, including Jacob's pregnant granddaughter, Annie Laurie McCall McReynolds, who was washed out of her husband's arms. Garner died of pneumonia on February 27, 1887, and was buried at the Old Sabine Pass Cemetery.

W. T. Block, A History of Jefferson County, Texas, from Wilderness to Reconstruction (M.A. thesis, Lamar University, 1974; Nederland, Texas: Nederland Publishing, 1976). Helen Smothers Swenson, Jefferson County, Texas 1850 Census and Consorts (Round Rock, Texas, 1981).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

W. T. Block and Sherwood P. McCall III, “Garner, Jacob Harmon,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
November 6, 2019