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Morphis, James M. (1826–1900)

Biography Entry

James M. Morphis, lawyer and writer, was born in 1826 in Orange County, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina in the early 1840s and moved to Clarksville, Texas, in the spring of 1846. In December 1846 he opened a law office at Paris. In December 1847 he represented Lamar County at the Red River Raft Convention at Clarksville. He moved to Marshall, where he was elected mayor on September 24, 1851. Morphis probably married sometime in the 1850s and had one daughter. His wife died before their daughter's marriage in 1875. In December 1859 Morphis ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate against Louis T. Wigfall. He served in the Confederate Army and after the Civil War was a traveling editor and correspondent for the Galveston Civilian. He did similar work for the Telegraph and Texas Register in 1868. He moved to Austin, apparently in 1871, and during the 1870s wrote occasional sketches for the Austin Daily Democratic Statesman. His book, The History of Texas from Its First Discovery and Settlement, was published in New York in 1874. Morphis died a recluse in Austin on December 17, 1900.

Austin Daily Tribune, December 18, 1900. Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (MS, Frank Brown Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Clarksville Northern Standard, June 10, 1846, December 18, 1847, January 14, 1860. Dallas Herald, March 28, 1868, January 17, 1874, March 27, 1875.


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

Anonymous, “Morphis, James M.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 15, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.