The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Little, William W. (ca. 1791–1841)

Biography Entry

William W. Little, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in Pennsylvania. According to the recollection of George Huff Little (William’s son) in A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (1907), William W. Little was born in Bellefontaine Iron Works in Pennsylvania in November 1791 and was the son of John Little and Hannah (Hamilton) Little. The same source stated that William married Jane Edwards in the spring of 1824.

In June 1821 he joined Stephen F. Austin on the Beaver and accompanied the empresario to Texas to explore the location of the Moses Austin grant. William Smeathers, Joseph Henry Polley, Charles Beard, Henry Holstein, and Little then stayed in Texas to await the arrival of the first contingent of colonists. In the United States in November 1821 Little contracted with Austin to work for him in Texas until December 1822 building cabins and a stockade and planting five acres of corn. He sailed as supercargo on the Lively and reached the mouth of the Brazos River in January 1822. In February 1822 he camped with William Morton and David Fitzgerald at the great bend of the Brazos. Little, later joined by his father, settled on the east bank of the river at the site of Henry Jones's landing. The Little plantation became a steamboat landing that was visited by the Yellow Stone and other early vessels. Little voted in the colony election in April 1824 and on July 10 as one of the Old Three Hundred colonists, received title to a league and a labor of land now in Fort Bend County. The census of 1826 classified him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between twenty-five and forty. His household included his wife, Jane, a baby boy born on January 7, 1825, and one servant. In November 1835 the General Council appointed Little a commissioner to organize the Harrisburg militia. He and his family had to take refuge in the canebrakes at the time of the Runaway Scrape. He laid out the town of Richmond in 1836, signed a petition for the organization of Fort Bend County in 1837, and served on the first grand jury impaneled in the county. He died in July 1841 and was buried on his ranch in Fort Bend County.

A William L. Little and his wife, Matilda, who came to Texas from Kentucky in 1832, were also members of Austin's colony.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Eugene C. Barker, ed., "Journal of Stephen F. Austin on His First Trip to Texas, 1821," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 7 (April 1904). Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). "Reminiscences of Mrs. Dilue Harris," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 4, 7 (October 1900, January 1901, January 1904). Andrew Jackson Sowell, History of Fort Bend County (Houston: Coyle, 1904; rpt, Richmond, Texas: Fort Bend County Historical Museum, 1974). Telegraph and Texas Register, January 16, 1836. A Twentieth Century History of Southwest Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1907).Clarence Wharton, Wharton's History of Fort Bend County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1939).

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas

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

Anonymous, “Little, William W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 27, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: