Mitchell, Eli (1797–1870)

By: Stephen L. Hardin

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 1, 1995

Eli Mitchell, early settler, merchant, and public official, was born on September 15, 1797, the son of Lewis and Rhoda (Abrams) Mitchell, in Turkey Foot (later called Ursina), Somerset County, Pennsylvania. He came to Texas in 1824 as one of the Old Three Hundred. His brothers, William and Asa Mitchell, had arrived in 1822 with Stephen F. Austin. Eli settled in San Felipe and in 1828 moved to Gonzales. He served as Gonzales delegate to the Convention of 1833. In 1835 he was elected first regidor of DeWitt's colony. He was one of the founders of the Masonic order in Texas. The Gonzales "Come and Take It" cannon was mounted on Mitchell's wagon, and he fired the first shot of the battle of Gonzales and consequently of the Texas Revolution. He later provided supplies for the Texas army in preparation for the siege of Bexar. His claim for compensation was accepted and passed by the Senate; he finally received payment in 1856.

Mitchell married Sarah Olivet Skinner in Pennsylvania; they had one son. Mitchell's second wife was Elizabeth Zumwalt, daughter of Adam and Nancy Caton Zumwalt, original settlers of DeWitt's colony. They were married on October 5, 1833; they had nine children. On August 5, 1850, Mitchell was elected tax assessor and collector of Gonzales County. He was reelected to that post three times, his tenure ending on October 29, 1860. He died in Gonzales on April 19, 1870. Mitchell County, established on August 21, 1876, was named for both Eli and Asa Mitchell.

James David Carter, Masonry in Texas: Background, History and Influence to 1846 (Waco: Grand Lodge of Texas, 1955). Gonzales County Historical Commission, History of Gonzales County (Dallas: Curtis, 1986). Ethel Zivley Rather, "DeWitt's Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 8 (October 1904). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Stephen L. Hardin, “Mitchell, Eli,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995