James Gillaspie, prison superintendent and army officer in the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, son of William and Elizabeth Gillaspie, was born in Virginia on January 5, 1805. He traveled to Texas in 1835 and on January 14, 1836, enlisted in the volunteer auxiliary corps for the Texas army at Nacogdoches. On February 1 he was elected first lieutenant in Joseph L. Bennett's volunteer company. On April 8 Gillaspie became captain of the Sixth Company, Second Regiment of Texas Volunteers, which he commanded in the battle of San Jacinto. He was discharged from the army on May 29, 1836. Gillaspie married Susan Faris of Walker County; they had seven children. During the Mexican War he raised a company for the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, for service under John C. (Jack) Hays. With the outbreak of the Civil War Gillaspie again raised a Walker County company for the Fifth Regiment, Texas Infantry Volunteers, and was stationed on Galveston Island. Gillaspie was superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville from 1850 to 1858 and again from May 1867 until his death, on October 3, 1867. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville. The monument at his grave lists the personnel of the various units that he commanded during three wars.
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Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938).
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Prison Administrators and Reformers
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 1, 1995