George Freeman Hurley, state legislator and farmer, was born on May 14, 1847, in Montgomery County, North Carolina. He was the third of eight children of Daniel and Melissa Emaline (Gibson) Hurley. The family patriarch had died by 1860 when George’s mother was listed as a widow on the federal census.
Taking up farming by the time he was a teenager, George Hurley married Nancy Abigail Smith, also of North Carolina, in 1868. Comparison of census records between 1870 and 1910 place the Hurleys’ arrival in Texas at about 1870. They originally settled in Clarksville in Red River County, where George continued to practice the occupation of farming. The couple had at least ten children. The family later relocated to the community of Katemcy in Mason County on the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas. The Hurleys were among the early pioneering families of the area.
Hurley established his farm around 1883 (initially with the assistance of his brother-in-law), and the Hurleys resided there until shortly before George’s death. Recognized as a community leader, Hurley was credited as being instrumental in raising funds for Katemcy’s first learning institution, the Baptist Church-affiliated Friendship School. He joined the People’s Party in the 1890s and won the Populist nomination for the state legislature in 1898. He went on to defeat incumbent Democrat Calvin Thaxton in the general election and was sworn in for a single term representing Mason and Llano counties on January 10, 1899. Hurley was one of six members of the People’s Party of Texas to hold seats in the Twenty-sixth Legislature (1899–1901), the last session that boasted multiple Populists within the body.
Speaker J. S. Sherill appointed Hurley to committees overseeing public health and vital statistics; roads, bridges and ferries; stock and stock raising; and agricultural affairs. Hurley introduced no legislation during the 138-day regular session but was present for the majority of floor votes. His most vocal participation, according to the Twenty-sixth Legislature’s House Journal, was presenting a minority report from the Stock and Stock Raising Committee to recommend the defeat of a bill that would have prohibited hunting with firearms and dogs on marsh lands.
The People’s Party had all but disintegrated as a major force in Texas politics by the 1900 election, a cycle in which only Benjamin A. Calhoun of Nacogdoches County survived at the polls to reenter the state legislature as a Populist. Hurley returned to his life of farming in the Katemcy community alongside his wife. He died on August 24, 1921, in Mason County and was buried there.
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Dallas Morning News, November 13, 1898; Legislative Reference Library of Texas: George Hurley (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=3371&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=hurley~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed December 12, 2013. Mason County Historical Book (Mason, Texas: Mason County Historical Commission, 1976).
Twenty-sixth Legislature (1899-1900)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Hurley, George Freeman,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
December 13, 2013