John Lewis Randolph, farmer, slaveholder, merchant, and Confederate military officer, was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, on December 17, 1831. He was the son of Grief Randolph (of Wythville, Virginia) and Nancy (Anderson) Randolph. By the mid-1850s he had married Mary Bradley of Smith County, Tennessee, and they had a son, Thomas, who was born in November 1854 in Rome, Smith County, Tennessee. They moved to Texas and settled in Grayson County in 1858. In 1860 they resided in Sherman, where John worked as a farmer and estimated his personal property to be $3,000, including the ownership of one slave.
In the summer of 1862 in Sherman, Randolph raised a company of soldiers for service as Texas State Troops. On July 5, 1862, the thirty-one-year-old Randolph was elected captain of the company and was mustered into service for a period of three years. On February 6, 1863, Randolph’s unit was combined with the four companies of the Tenth Battalion Texas Cavalry, commanded by Leonidas M. Martin, and designated the Fifth Texas Partisan Rangers. This unit was later designated as Martin’s Regiment Texas Cavalry. At this time, Randolph was made captain of Company B of the regiment, a position he held until the end of the war. Martin’s Regiment served in D. H. Cooper’s, Bankhead’s, and Gano’s Brigade in the Trans-Mississippi Department and took part in skirmishes in Arkansas before moving to Texas. It also was active in the Indian Territory where it took part in actions near Honey Springs on July 17, 1863, and the battle of Cabin Creek on September 19, 1864. For his part, Randolph worked for the Indian Department in the summer of 1863 and enrolled Native Americans for service in the Confederate army. Randolph’s unit dismounted in May 1865 and was surrendered by Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department, on May 26, 1865.
After the war, Randolph returned to Sherman, where by 1870 he had established a mercantile and estimated his real property at $2,500 and his personal property at $1,500. He was listed in the 1876–77 Sherman city directory as owner of the drygoods and clothing store Randolph & Bro. and was in business with his brother Thomas W. Randolph. Evidently Randolph’s parents had also relocated to Sherman at some point, because both died there and were buried in the Austin Street Cemetery. In 1880 Randolph was still living in Sherman and continued to operate his business. He and his wife remained there in 1900, when John listed his occupation as a capitalist on the census. He died in Sherman in 1912, and his wife Mary died in 1931. Both were buried in West Hill Cemetery in Sherman.