Mullens, Shepherd (ca. 1828–1871)

By: Alwyn Barr

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: November 23, 2017

Shepherd (Shepart, Sheppard) Mullens, black political leader, was born a slave in Lawrence County, Alabama, in 1828 or 1829. He arrived in Texas, still a bondsman, during 1854. Between 1865 and 1870 he acquired several lots in Waco and other pieces of land in McLennan County. On December 29, 1866, he married Sallie Downs. In 1867, when Congress passed the Reconstruction acts that divided most of the Confederacy into military districts, Maj. Gen. Charles Griffin, the commander of the Fifth Military District, appointed Mullens to serve on the board that registered voters in McLennan County. A few months later Mullins served on the platform committee of the first Republican party convention in Texas. In 1868, after the death of a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1868–69, he ran successfully for election to fill the seat. In the convention he became a member of the committees on public lands, commerce, and manufactures. Generally the radical wing of the Republican party received his support in convention votes. In 1869 Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, then the state military commander, selected Mullens to serve a four-year term as a McLennan county commissioner.

In the factional struggles of the Republican party before the state election of 1869, Mullens became a vice president of the convention organized by radical leader Morgan C. Hamilton. When the Twelfth Legislature was elected in 1869, Mullens campaigned for and won a place in the House of Representatives. He strongly supported Republican efforts to protect the interests of black people. Thus he favored the establishment of the Texas State Police and a militia to control violence. He also voted for a state system of education available to all citizens and joined other black legislators in unsuccessful opposition to school segregation. Republican efforts to provide frontier defense received his approval. Mullens represented his local constituents by introducing a bill to extend the city limits of Waco. Along with most other Republicans in the house, he generally supported vetoes by Governor Edmund J. Davis of costly railroad bills. Mullens died on August 7, 1871, and was buried at the First Street Cemetery in Waco.

Washington, D.C., New Era, June 16, 1870.

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Politics and Government
Time Periods:
  • Reconstruction

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

Alwyn Barr, “Mullens, Shepherd,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

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May 1, 1995
November 23, 2017

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