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Hare, Silas (1827–1908)

Elizabeth Blair Douglas Biography Entry

Silas Hare, soldier, explorer, lawyer, and judge, son of Jacob and Elizabeth (Freshour) Hare, was born on November 13, 1827, in Ross County, Ohio. He was raised by his grandfather, Daniel Hare, until the age of fourteen, when he walked barefoot 100 miles to rejoin his mother and family, who had moved to Hamilton County, Indiana, after his father's death in 1835. During the Mexican War Hare was a private in the First Indiana Infantry under Col. James. P. Drake. He suffered a lance wound at the battle of Buena Vista. Afterwards he studied law in Noblesville, and on April 20, 1849, he married Octavia Elizabeth Rector of Circleville, Ohio. They had seven children, one of whom died in infancy. Luther Rector Hare and Silas Hare, Jr., were two of their children. Seeking to improve his health, Hare traveled to Mexico, Central America, the Sandwich Islands, Oregon, and California in 1852. He was aboard the SS Lewis when it was shipwrecked off the northern California coast.

He subsequently moved his family to Belton, Texas, to be near his wife's relatives and enjoy the warm climate. He practiced law for six years but in 1858 joined the Hardeman expedition to explore the Panhandle and Llano Estacado. Due to numerous hardships, all but eight of the original party of ninety men had returned home when Hare and the remainder, near death from thirst, discovered artesian pools (now called the Hundred Springs) in the Sand Hills. A few days later the group encountered Capt. John Pope of the United States Army, who was leading an expedition in search of artesian wells on the plains. Following Hare's directions, Pope found the pools and subsequently claimed credit for the discovery.

The Hare family was living in Mesilla, New Mexico, when the Civil War broke out. In June 1861 United States troops evacuated Fort Stanton, near Mesilla, and Captain Hare, leading a hastily organized company of volunteers, entered the fort and proclaimed New Mexico part of the Confederate States. He was appointed chief justice of the territory but resigned in 1862 to join the Confederate Army. In San Antonio he was appointed captain and quartermaster in the Arizona Brigade and remained with this unit throughout the war; he was promoted to major in 1863.

After the war Hare located his family in Sherman, Texas, where he and G. A. Dickerman founded the Sherman Courier in 1866. He formed a partnership with Joseph Bledsoe the next year and became one of the most successful civil and criminal lawyers in North Texas. He was appointed criminal judge of the Dallas, Collin, and Grayson district in 1873. He resigned this position in 1876 to return to his law practice. He served two terms as a Democrat in Congress, from 1887 to 1891. After failing to be renominated in 1890, he resumed law practice in Washington, D.C. In 1903 he married Mary Louise (Canniff) Kenaday of Baltimore. Hare died in Washington on November 26, 1908, and was buried in Sherman, Texas.

William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

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

Elizabeth Blair Douglas, “Hare, Silas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 26, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: