Hightower, Lewis Buckner, Sr. (1838–1918)

By: Kevin Ladd

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: April 13, 2018

Lewis Buckner Hightower, Sr., legislator and judge, often known as "the Bear-Hunting Judge," was born on October 20, 1838, in Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama, a son of John Oldham and Apphia (Allen) Hightower. The elder Hightower, an attorney, moved the family to Texas in 1842 and then to Lafayette County, Arkansas, in 1844. He served as a circuit court judge and as a member of the state legislature and was shot to death in Lewisville, Arkansas, in 1848. The younger Hightower moved to Texas and studied at Austin College in Huntsville and later at the Baylor Law School at Independence, graduating there in 1859. He then returned to Huntsville to open his law office, but his fledgling practice was quickly interrupted by the Civil War. Hightower first served with Company I, Bates's (Fourth) Regiment Texas Volunteers, and later Company I, Brown's (Thirty-fifth) Texas Cavalry Regiment. He was elected as its captain on March 27, 1863. After the war Hightower resumed his law practice and as a Democrat was elected in 1876 to the Texas legislature from Willis in Montgomery County; he served only one term. He later settled in the Gladstell community near Cleveland in northern Liberty County. He was appointed by Governor Lawrence S. (Sul) Ross to the Ninth Judicial District bench in July 1888, and then in November 1888 won election to the office over two challengers. He was never challenged again and held the office until his death. His most celebrated case came in August 1889, when Governor Ross appointed him as a visiting judge in Fort Bend County during the Jaybird-Woodpecker War. Hightower was a renowned bear hunter and was often known to dismiss court to make time for hunts. He is credited with having killed some 200 bears during his lifetime. He once explained, "I practice law for recreation and hunt bear for a livin'." Judge L. B. Hightower died at his home near Cleveland on January 13, 1918, and was buried in Wells Cemetery in Liberty County. He had been married four times and was the father of twenty children. In 1860 he married Sallie Riggins (d. 1863); in 1868, Cora A. Polk; in 1874, Jacquelina Moore (1852–1884); and in 1886, Jane Lockhart (1864–1945). Three of his sons held elective office: L. B. Hightower II, as chief justice of the Ninth Court of Civil Appeals (1916–32); Lockhart Valentine Hightower, as sheriff and county clerk of Liberty County; and T. J. (Tommy) Hightower, as district attorney and county judge of Liberty County.

Beaumont Enterprise, June 23, 1961. Houston Chronicle, March 6, 1960. 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]). Walker County Genealogical Society and Walker County Historical Commission, Walker County (Dallas, 1986).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges

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

Kevin Ladd, “Hightower, Lewis Buckner, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hightower-lewis-buckner-sr.

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September 1, 1995
April 13, 2018