Highsmith, Benjamin Franklin (1817–1905)

By: Bill Groneman

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 30, 2019

Benjamin F. Highsmith, Alamo courier and Texas Ranger, son of Ahijah M. and Deborah (Turner) Highsmith, was born in St. Charles District, Missouri Territory, on September 11, 1817. His father had been a scout and ranger during the War of 1812. Highsmith's family traveled to Texas by wagon train and crossed the Sabine River by raft on December 24, 1823. They settled on the Colorado River near the site of present La Grange, Fayette County.

In 1830 Highsmith made his first trip to San Antonio de Béxar in a group of men that included William B. Travis, James Bowie, Benjamin McCulloch, Samuel Highsmith, George C. Kimbell, and Winslow Turner. At age fifteen he joined the company of Aylett C. Buckner and fought in the battle of Velasco on June 26, 1832. During that year Highsmith also settled in Bastrop, where he lived for the next fifty years. He took part in all of the major actions at the outset of the Texas Revolution: the fight for the Gonzales "Come and Take It" cannon, the battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight, and the siege of Bexar.

He remained in Bexar after the siege until February 18, 1836, when he was sent by Travis with an appeal for aid to Col. James W. Fannin, Jr., at Goliad. Upon his return to Bexar, Highsmith found the town already occupied by the Mexican army. He was spotted by the Mexican cavalry at Powder House Hill and pursued by them for some six miles. He rode to Gonzales and later served Gen. Sam Houston as a courier. He and David B. Kent, son of Alamo defender Andrew Kent, carried a message to Fannin from Houston ordering Fannin to abandon Goliad and join him at the Guadalupe River. Highsmith fought in the battle of San Jacinto as a member of Capt. William Ware's company.

After the revolution, Highsmith had a long career with the Texas Rangers. He served in the Mexican War, fought in the battles of Monterrey and Palo Alto, and was wounded at Buena Vista. In 1853 he married Elizabeth Turner; they had thirteen children. In 1882 the family moved to Bandera County. Highsmith died in Uvalde County on November 20, 1905.

Bill Groneman, Alamo Defenders (Austin: Eakin, 1990). Andrew Jackson Sowell, Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (Austin: Ben C. Jones, 1900; rpt., Austin: State House Press, 1986).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Bill Groneman, “Highsmith, Benjamin Franklin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/highsmith-benjamin-franklin.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 30, 2019