Poindexter, William (1854–1923)

By: Doug Johnson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 28, 2019

William Poindexter, lawyer and prohibitionist, was born in Paris, Texas, on January 2, 1854, the seventh son of landowner and cattle raiser Thomas C. and Nancy (White) Poindexter. In 1863 the family moved to Johnson County near Alvarado, where Poindexter grew up on a farm. One of his teachers there was William L. Prather. In 1873, after Poindexter graduated from Mansfield College in Tarrant County, he went to Edmonton, Kentucky, to study law under his brother-in-law, Judge R. B. Dohoney. In 1874 he was admitted to the bar in Kentucky. He also studied at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee, where he graduated in 1875. Soon afterward he returned to Texas and joined Amzi Bradshaw of Waxahachie to open a firm in Cleburne; it dissolved in 1880. For twenty years thereafter Poindexter was a partner of S. C. Padelford. Poindexter was a Mason and became eminent commander at Cleburne and grand orator of Texas. He was also a member of the Knights of Pythias and of the Woodmen of the World.

He gained a reputation as an orator and stumped for prohibition during 1887. In 1898 he was elected judge of the Eighteenth Judicial District, which consisted of Hill, Johnson, and Bosque counties. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination to Congress in 1902 and 1904 but lost the nomination first to Judge Robert E. Burke and subsequently to Oscar Calloway.

In 1907 Poindexter served as legal adviser to the Texas Senate during the hearings on Joseph Weldon Bailey. In 1908 he campaigned for Bailey against Cone Johnson. In 1910, as a prohibition candidate, he finished second to Oscar Branch Colquitt in the gubernatorial primary. Poindexter left the law in 1913 to organize the Home National Bank of Cleburne, where he served as president until 1917.

Poindexter was national Democratic committeeman from Texas during President Woodrow Wilson's second administration. He served for two years, then retired to cattle ranching in Shackelford County. In 1921 oil was discovered on his property, and he later leased much of his land to three oil companies. Poindexter was first married on September 9, 1879, to Mary Chambers, daughter of Gen. Barzillai J. Chambers; next to Melissa Smith; and last to Frances McMinds of Houston. The last three months of his life Poindexter lived in Dallas, where he died of a heart attack on December 12, 1923.

Glynn Austin Brooks, A Political Survey of the Prohibition Movement in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1920). Cattleman, January 1924. Dallas Morning News, December 9, 1910. Dallas Weekly Herald, May 7, 1887. Buckley B. Paddock, History of Central and Western Texas (2 vols., Chicago: Lewis, 1911). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Doug Johnson, “Poindexter, William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/poindexter-william.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 28, 2019