William Richardson Hensley, surveyor, legislator, and merchant, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, on September 29, 1800. In 1823 he married Mary Thompson of Tennessee and moved to Johnson County, Indiana. From there he traveled to Texas in November 1828 and settled in San Felipe. He surveyed widely, from San Felipe as far west as the Nueces River. Family records show that the Hensleys established homes in the areas of present Colorado, Fayette, and Jackson counties. In connection with his work, Hensley frequently encountered hostile Indians and so won a name as an Indian fighter.
He was the delegate from the district of Alfred (Colorado County) to the Convention of 1832. William Barret Travis, a close friend, lived with the Hensley family for several years before the Texas Revolution, and it was for him that Travis Hensley, born shortly after the fall of the Alamo, was named. According to family tradition William Hensley was a member of one of the early war councils of the provisional government and also fought in the battle of San Jacinto without benefit of enlistment or assignment.
In the early 1840s he became a merchant in Port Lavaca and soon controlled great wagon trains to Mexico. He made a number of trips to Saltillo, Veracruz, and other Mexican cities to trade for hides, silver, and other commodities. On his return from one of his trading ventures, he contracted cholera and died in Port Lavaca, on March 20, 1849. He was buried in an unmarked grave outside the Port Lavaca cemetery with other victims of the epidemic. He was survived by his wife and six children.
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Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Helen Ashworth Moore,
“Hensley, William Richardson,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 01, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 1, 1995