McReynolds, Felix Columbus (1835–1912)


By: Jennifer Eckel

Revised by: Katherine Kuehler Walters

Type: Biography

Published: May 11, 2011

Updated: September 14, 2021


Felix Columbus McReynolds, Confederate officer and businessman, was likely born in Monroe County, Tennessee, in 1835 to Isaac and Sarah (McGonigal) McReynolds. It is probable that Felix McReynolds came to Texas near the time of the Civil War.

During the Civil War McReynolds served as an executive officer for Col. William H. Griffin of "Griffin's Battalion." Four companies of Griffin's Battalion were then consolidated with six companies of the Eleventh Battalion to create Spaight's Regiment of the Twenty-first Texas Infantry (see SPAIGHT, ASHLEY W.). Although McReynolds was not the original executive officer of the battalion, he was a major by early 1863 and in October of 1863 was placed in command of Fort Manhassett, located near Fort Griffin, and charged with the defense of Sabine Pass. He commanded the fort through the invasion scare of October and November, during which married a local woman, Laura McGill, the daughter daughter of Kate Dorman, "Confederate heroine of Sabine Pass," on October 29, 1863. As the commandant of the fort, McReynolds presumably remained at the fort through the winter, although troop strength at the fort was reduced due to the invasion at Brownsville (see PALMITO RANCH, BATTLE OF).

Although troubled by desertions in the early spring, Major McReynolds led a battery in an attack on Union gunboats, the Wave and the Granite City, at the battle of Calcascieu Pass on May 6, 1864. After the ninety-minute battle, Major McReynolds personally accepted the surrender of the Wave. In November 1864 Griffin's Battalion was transferred to Houston where it remained until it was decommissioned in 1865.

Following the war, Felix McReynolds returned to his wife and infant son, Robert Arthur, who was born before in August 1864, in Sabine Pass and helped his mother-in-law operate the McGill House, a local boarding house often referred to as the Catfish Hotel. Later he also engaged in various business enterprises, including clerking at a wholesale grocery, farming, and investing in railroads, oil, and a telegraph company, and eventually moved to Beaumont. On September 2, 1872, his wife gave birth to triplets, Charles, Edgar, and John Dorman McReynolds; however, the children died in the summer of 1873. By 1883 he was a land agent for the Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company, which acquired the Sabine and East Texas Railway Company in 1882, and for the East Texas Land and Improvement Company by 1886. He was active in the Democratic Party of Jefferson County and chaired the county convention in July 1886. When his wife died on December 27, 1885, Felix became a single parent of the couple’s three living children, each born ten years apart, and included Sarah Alberta “Bertie,” born in 1875, and Laura, born four months before her mother’s death. Felix never remarried and his mother-in-law’s helped with the children.

The "Early Victoria Home," a historical landmark located on Craig Street in Victoria, Texas, lists Major McReynolds among its notable owners. He apparently resided in that city from 1891 to 1893. For a time, he also resided at the KO Ranch near El Campo and Pierce Station in Wharton County. According to the 1900 census he lived in Sabine Pass, and by 1910 he had returned to Beaumont. Felix McReynolds died in Jefferson County, on February 7, 1912, and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery with his wife. See also BATTLE OF SABINE PASS.

Austin Statesman, November 3, 1881. W. T. Block, A History of Jefferson County, Texas, From Wilderness to Reconstruction (M.A. thesis, Lamar University, 1974; Nederland, Texas: Nederland Publishing, 1976). Fort Worth Record and Register, May 2, 1901. Galveston Daily News, May 9, 1868; August 17, 1883; July 16, 1886; October 30, 1886; September 15, 1895; March 11, 1900. Houston Post, August 21, 1897. Sabine Pass Cemetery Records, Jefferson County.

Categories:
  • Agriculture
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Transportation and Railroads
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
Places:
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • Beaumont

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

Jennifer Eckel Revised by Katherine Kuehler Walters, “McReynolds, Felix Columbus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/mcreynolds-felix-c.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 11, 2011
September 14, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: