Joseph Grigsby, early settler and congressman in the Republic of Texas, son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Butler) Grigsby, was born on Bull Run in Loudoun County, Virginia, on September 24, 1771. The family moved in 1786 to Kentucky, where they settled on a 1,000-acre land grant on Beech Fork in Nelson County. Grigsby married Sarah (Sally) Mitchell Graham, whose family lived on the adjoining grant, on June 28, 1798, in Bardstown, Kentucky. They became the parents of thirteen children.
The Grigsbys moved west to Daviess County, Kentucky, in 1817, where Joseph developed a prosperous 1,000-acre cotton plantation on the Green River. In 1828 they moved to the Mexican province of Texas, where they settled first in Lorenzo de Zavala's colony in Jasper County. After the Texas Revolution in 1836 Grigsby built a large plantation with slave labor on his Neches River grant in Jefferson County and built the first horse-driven cotton gin in the area. The community of Grigsby's Bluff became a busy trading stop for side-wheelers and flatboats on the Neches. Grigsby acquired over 10,000 acres extending from the site of present-day Port Neches to Mesquite Point on Sabine Pass and became the wealthiest person in Jefferson County.
He and three other prominent citizens gave 200 acres of land and laid out the townsite of Beaumont in 1837. He was elected land-office commissioner for Jefferson County and a representative in the Second, Third, and Fifth congresses of the Republic of Texas. He died at Grigsby's Bluff on September 13, 1841, and was buried on his plantation. His estate was administered by his son-in-law, George W. Smyth, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.