Guinn, James Washington (1804–1866)

By: Stephanie P. Niemeyer

Type: Biography

Published: July 23, 2008

Updated: November 20, 2014

James Washington Guinn, lawyer and state legislator, was born on June 11, 1804, in Greene County, Tennessee, son of James and Rachael (Shields) Guinn. He studied law, and in 1828 he was admitted to the bar in Franklin, North Carolina. Guinn married Catherine Ann Dobson on February 2, 1830, in Macon County, North Carolina. The tailor who made his coat for the wedding was future president Andrew Johnson. Catherine was a doctor and believed by many to be the first woman doctor in the state of Texas.

Guinn moved throughout the South in the 1830s and 1840s. He represented the people of Macon County, North Carolina, at the Constitutional Convention in Raleigh. On November 19, 1841, he moved to Fish Head Valley, Alabama, and then to Wedowee, Alabama, in 1843. From 1846 to 1850 he was a judge in Randolph County, Alabama. Guinn moved with his family to Cherokee County, Texas, in 1858, joining his brother Robert Henry who was a lawyer in Rusk. By January 29, 1859, Guinn and his family were living in Angelina County where he practiced law. He served on a November 1859 committee to decide whether or not to use brick on the new courthouse in Homer. He became a notary public in 1861, and in 1863 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Angelina and Nacogdoches counties. In 1866 he served in the Texas Senate. Guinn identified with the Douglas Democrats and was against the secession of Texas from the United States. Nevertheless five of his sons fought in the Confederate Army. Guinn was a Methodist. He died while the legislature was in session on August 27, 1866, of cholera. He is buried in Austin in the State Cemetery in the Republic Hill section.

"Catherine Ann Dobson, M.D." (, accessed October 4, 2006. Randolph County, North Carolina Rootsweb (, accessed October 4, 2006. "Texas State Cemetery, James Guinn" (, accessed October 4, 2006.

  • Tenth Legislature (1863-1864)
  • Eleventh Legislature (1866)
  • House
  • Senate

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

Stephanie P. Niemeyer, “Guinn, James Washington,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 23, 2008
November 20, 2014