Goree, Thomas Jewett (1835–1905)

By: Langston James Goree V and Deborah Bloys Hardin

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: June 9, 2020

Thomas Jewett Goree, Confederate officer, attorney, and early prison director and reformer, the son of Dr. Langston James and Sarah Williams (Kittrell) Goree, was born on November 14, 1835, in Marion, Perry County, Alabama. He attended Howard College in Marion. The family moved to Texas in 1850 and settled in Huntsville. In 1853, after his father's death, Thomas Jewett attended Baylor College, then at Independence, where he earned both his academic and his law degree. In 1858 he formed at Montgomery a law partnership with Col. William P. Rogers—Rogers, Willie, and Goree; the firm later moved to Houston. In 1861 Goree left his law career and set out for Virginia to join the Confederate Army. On the boat from Galveston to New Orleans, he met Maj. James Longstreet, who had resigned his commission in the United States Army and was also traveling to Virginia to offer his services to the Confederate states. Goree, who was eventually promoted to captain, served as Longstreet's aide-de-camp throughout the war and was involved in almost every battle in which Longstreet's division took part. He was never wounded, though he had several horses shot out from under him, and his clothing was riddled with bullet holes. After Appomattox, Goree accompanied Longstreet home to Alabama. Goree returned to Texas in 1865 and took over operations at the Raven Hill Plantation near Huntsville, which his mother had purchased from Sam and Margaret M. L. Houston in 1858. He ran the plantation and continued to practice law until 1869.

On June 25, 1868, Goree married Elizabeth Thomas Nolley (see GOREE, ELIZABETH T. N.), who was head of Andrew Female College at Huntsville. The couple spent a year at the Raven Hill Plantation and then moved to the Moffattville Plantation near Midway in Madison County. In Midway Goree operated a general mercantile business, Goree and Wakefield, while his wife organized a school. In 1873 the Gorees returned to Huntsville, where he formed a law partnership with Col. Leonard Anderson Abercrombie. That year Goree was appointed a member of the board of directors, later board of commissioners, of the Texas State Prisons (see PRISON SYSTEM). In 1877 Governor Richard B. Hubbard appointed Goree superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, a title that was later changed to superintendent of penitentiaries. He served in that position for the next fourteen years. In 1891 he became the general agent for the Birmingham Iron Company, New Birmingham, Texas, and in 1893 he was named assistant general manager of the Texas Land and Loan Company at Galveston. He was in Galveston at the time of the Galveston hurricane of 1900, which he mentioned in a letter to his wife the day before the storm struck, as "another Gulf storm, perhaps somewhat heavier than ordinary." Thomas Jewett Goree died of pneumonia in Galveston on March 5, 1905. He and Elizabeth had five children. One grandchild was the noted Texas artist and author John W. Thomason, Jr. Thomas J. and Elizabeth Goree are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas. The Goree Unit of the Texas prison system, which houses the Secondary Diagnostic Center, was named in honor of Thomas J. Goree.

Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas (Chicago: Battey, 1889; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). D'Anne McAdams Crews, ed., Huntsville and Walker County, Texas: A Bicentennial History (Huntsville, Texas: Sam Houston State University, 1976). Thomas Jewett Goree, Longstreet's Aide: The Civil War Letters of Major Thomas J. Goree, ed. Thomas Cutrer (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995). Thomas Jewett Goree, The Thomas Jewett Goree Letters, ed. Langston James Goree V (Bryan, Texas: Family History Foundation, 1981). Under Texas Skies, October 1954. Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Prison Administrators and Reformers

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

Langston James Goree V and Deborah Bloys Hardin, “Goree, Thomas Jewett,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/goree-thomas-jewett.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 9, 2020