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Heath, Ephraim Charles (1850–1924)

Elizabeth Lee Bass Biography

Ephraim Charles Heath, prohibition leader, was born on November 4, 1850, in Heath, Texas, to John O. and Martha Ann (Jones) Heath, who settled the area in 1846. The Heaths were the town's first residents; John Heath was one of the leaders in establishing Rockwall County in 1873. Ephraim Heath was educated in local schools and was valedictorian of the Hartman and Slaughter Academy. In 1878 he opened a mercantile store in Rockwall, which he sold in 1882.

He began his public career by circulating a petition to organize Rockwall County in the winter of 1872–73. He was on the board of registrars in 1873. He was elected county judge in 1882, was reelected in 1884, and served until 1886. In that same year Rockwall, Dallas, and Tarrant counties elected him flotorial representative to the state legislature. During the session of 1887 he promoted the statewide prohibition amendment, which was defeated. Heath had first become identified with the temperance movement in 1869 or 1870. In 1876, after the adoption of the new state constitution, he circulated the first known local-option petition in Texas. In 1890 he was a delegate to the temperance convention in New York City and the prohibition candidate for governor. With only 2,235 votes, less than 1 percent of the total, he was resoundingly defeated by James S. Hogg. His campaign, however, served to keep the issue of prohibition alive.

After his defeat Heath purchased an abstract and title business, which he successfully ran until 1914. During this time he also served as county surveyor. He was a member of the Good Templars, the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. On April 3, 1881, he married Mrs. Ida A. Collins Carter; they had two daughters and a son. The family lived on a farm one mile north of Rockwall. Heath died in Rockwall on February 13, 1924, and was buried in Rockwall Cemetery.

Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). O. L. Steger, Sr., History of Rockwall County (Wolfe City, Texas: Henington, 1969).

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

Elizabeth Lee Bass, “Heath, Ephraim Charles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 22, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.