William K. Makemson, lawyer, public servant, politician, and soldier, was born at Danville, Illinois, on February 26, 1836, the son of Samuel L. and Martha (Knight) Makemson. His family members were among the earliest settlers in Williamson County, Texas, when they moved to Brushy Creek in 1847. After the death of his father in 1850, the young Makemson managed to study law while he supported his family as a farmer, a drover, and a shoemaker. When the Civil War broke out he was opposed to secession and contemplated sitting out the war in an Illinois law school, but instead joined the Confederate Army. He served with two of his brothers in the Fifth Texas Rangers, primarily in Indian Territory, until he was elected sheriff of Williamson County in November 1863. While serving as sheriff Makemson completed his legal studies and was admitted to the bar on May 20, 1865. He was appointed district attorney for the Seventeenth Judicial District by Governor Andrew J. Hamilton in November 1865 and was reappointed by James W. Throckmorton in 1867. In April 1870 he resigned the office because of his opposition to the introduction of a state police force by Governor Edmund J. Davis and opened a law practice in Georgetown, where he specialized in criminal cases. On July 24, 1870, he married Anna Smith of Bastrop, with whom he had two children. She died in 1880, and in 1890 Makemson married Mrs. Kate (Patrick) Holland, the daughter of W. A. Patrick of Leon County.
Makemson was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Texas in 1892 and ran for governor in 1894. In the election of 1894 he was the choice of the "Regular" Republicans and, though his 54,520 votes placed him third in the race behind Democrat Charles A. Culberson and populist Thomas L. Nugent, he received ten times as many votes as his rival in the Republican party, John B. Schmitz of the "lily white" faction (see LILY-WHITE MOVEMENT). Makemson was also a writer and local historian. He published and edited a newspaper, the Georgetown Watchman, in the 1860s and 1870s and wrote and published First Settlement and Organization of Williamson County, a short county history, in 1904. He was a founder of the Williamson County Old Settlers Association and served as its president; he was also active in Confederate veterans' groups, the Masons, the Odd Fellows, and the Old School Presbyterian Church. He was a director of the Georgetown and Granger Railroad. He died at Georgetown on June 17, 1919, and was buried there in the Odd Fellows Cemetery.
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Ken W. England, Historical Sketch of Williamson County Old Settlers Association (Round Rock, Texas, 1966). History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). Buckley B. Paddock, History of Central and Western Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1911).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Makemson, William K.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 11, 2020