Heard, William Jones Elliott (1801–1874)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 24, 2019

William J. E. Heard, soldier and planter, was born near Knoxville, Tennessee, on August 16, 1801, the son of Stephen Rhodes and Jemima (Menifee) Heard. At an early age Heard was taken by his family to Alabama. On October 30, 1830, he and his twenty-one-year-old wife, America (Morton), and their two daughters joined his family and an "Alabama colony" that had arrived in Texana, Texas, in December 1830. Heard was granted a league and a labor six miles from Texana in Stephen F. Austin's colony. In 1832 he was elected second lieutenant of Capt. Joseph K. Looney's volunteer company. In 1835 he moved to Egypt in Colorado (now Wharton) County and established himself as a sugar and cotton planter. On February 1, 1836, with the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, Heard was elected first lieutenant of Capt. Thomas J. Rabb's company of volunteers, but when the army was reorganized on April 2 he was elected captain of what became Company F of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers. At the battle of San Jacinto Heard's company was in the middle of the Texan line opposite the Mexican artillery and overran and captured the enemy cannons. Heard was discharged at Victoria on May 13, 1836. On September 28, 1838, he was elected chief justice of Colorado County, where in 1840 he owned 1,200 acres of land, seventeen slaves, forty-five cattle, a workhorse, and a clock. In that year he was elected chief justice of Wharton County and accompanied Col. John H. Moore's expedition against the Indians of the upper Colorado River. Heard was elected justice of the peace of Beat One of the judicial Ward County on February 24, 1841. When Mexican general Adrián Woll invaded Texas in 1842, Heard raised a company of twenty volunteers and was assigned to the command of the defense of Victoria. He arrived there on the evening of March 6 to find "the citizens badly armed and in great confusion." Upon receiving reports that a force of 1,100 of the enemy were marching toward Victoria from Refugio and that 3,000 more were near San Antonio, with an additional 14,000 reinforcements still beyond the Rio Grande, he wrote to the editor of the Telegraph and Texas Register, "I have no doubt, from all I can gather that there is an invasion at hand," and resolved to fall back beyond the Lavaca River the following day. "I cannot risk myself and men here longer than tomorrow evening without help," he wrote. After Woll's withdrawal, however, Heard and his men returned to their homes. By 1850 Heard reported real-estate holdings worth $16,888. His wife died on June 18, 1855; they had two daughters and two sons. Heard later married a widow named Ester Glass. In 1866 he moved to what was said to have been a model plantation at Chappell Hill, where he died on August 8, 1874. He is buried at the Chappell Hill Masonic Cemetery. He was a Methodist and a member of the Texas Veterans Association.

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas (St. Louis: Thompson, 1879). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Heard, William Jones Elliott,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 18, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/heard-william-jones-elliott.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

October 24, 2019