William Beck Ochiltree, pioneer settler, judge, and legislator, was born on October 18, 1811, at Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of David and Kezia (Beck) Ochiltree. The family lived for a time in Florida and after 1820 in Alabama, where Ochiltree began practicing law and in 1834 married Novaline Peck. In 1839 he moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, and continued the practice of law. During the Republic of Texas era he was judge of the Fifth Judicial District, secretary of the treasury in 1844, adjutant general in 1845, and a delegate to the Convention of 1845. After annexation he was active in Texas’s fledgling Whig Party, serving as an elector for the party in 1848 and a delegate to its national convention in 1852. He represented Nacogdoches in the House of the Sixth Legislature in 1855-1857. At some point, his first wife died, having given birth to five children. He them married Mariah Louisa Smith, who bore at least four more children. Upon her death, he married a third wife, Atala T. Hotchkiss.
Ochiltree moved to Marshall in 1959 and was a delegate to the Secession Convention in 1861. He strongly supported disunion and was elected to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States but resigned after a short time to return to Texas and raise a regiment. He organized the Eighteenth Texas Infantry and was elected its colonel. Ochiltree served with the unit until 1863 when he resigned his position because of ill health and returned to Jefferson. He subsequently practiced law at Jefferson until his death on December 27, 1867. He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Jefferson. Ochiltree County, created in 1876 and organized in 1889, was named in his honor.
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Randolph B. Campbell, “The Whig Party of Texas in the Elections of 1848 and 1852,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly,(July 1969), 17-34. George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod. 1962). Carolyn Reeves Ericson, Nacogdoches, Gateway to Texas: A Biographical Directory (2 vols., Fort Worth: Arrow-Curtis Printing, 1974, 1987). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Texas Republican, January 4, 1868. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
Regimental and Staff Officers
Republic of Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Robert Bruce Blake
Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell,
“Ochiltree, William Beck,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 17, 2021
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