Madison “Matt” Kilpatrick, African-American political leader during Reconstruction, was born a slave in Alabama in October 1829. Sometime before the end of the Civil War, Kilpatrick moved with his owner, Sam Oliver, first to Louisiana where he married his wife Bettie in 1863, and eventually to Austin County, Texas. Kilpatrick lived the rest of his life near Hempstead, which became part of Waller County in 1873. He and his wife had at least seven children, three sons and four daughters.
After emancipation, Kilpatrick prospered financially. By 1870 he owned a 400-acre farm near Hempstead. He also owned a blacksmith shop. In addition, he became active in Republican Party politics. When Waller County was formed in 1873, Kilpatrick was elected as that county’s first treasurer. He was reelected to the same position in 1876. In December 1873 he served as a juror in Federal District Court in Galveston.
Although he never held public office again after Reconstruction, Kilpatrick remained active in party politics and served as a Republican Party boss in Waller County for much of the late nineteenth century. He died in Waller County on December 1, 1910, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. A Texas Historical Marker was erected in his honor in 1973.
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Galveston Daily News, November 8, 1873. Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. James Smallwood, Time of Hope, Time of Despair: Black Texans During Reconstruction (London: Kennikat,1981).
Activism and Social Reform
Civil Rights, Segregation, and Slavery
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
William C. Yancey,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 06, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 15, 2013
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: