Rector, John B. (1837–1898)

By: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

John B. Rector, lawyer and judge, was born on November 24, 1837, in Jackson County, Alabama, the son of L. L. and Agnes (Black) Rector. In 1847 he moved with his family to Bastrop County, Texas, where his father established a plantation. Rector attended Yale College. He graduated in 1859, read law with Royal T. Wheeler, and was admitted to the Texas bar in 1860. He began the practice of law in Austin. Shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War he joined the Eighth Texas Cavalry, Terry's Texas Rangers. He served throughout the conflict and surrendered with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in May 1865. After resuming the practice of law in Bastrop, Rector was elected district attorney for the Second Judicial District on June 25, 1866. He held that position until Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds ordered his removal in November 1867. Rector married Ludie W. Barton, a native of Mississippi, on December 25, 1866. They had no children.

By early 1871, although he had served in the Confederate Army and been removed from office by the military in 1867, Rector had become a Republican. Governor Edmund J. Davis appointed him judge of the Thirty-first Judicial District in February 1871, and he served on the bench until adoption of the Constitution of 1876. He then returned to the practice of law in Austin. He also became very active in Republican party politics, serving on the state platform committee in 1884, as chairman of the state executive committee in 1886–88, and as a delegate to the national convention in 1888 and 1892. In 1884 he ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for the Tenth District seat in the United States House of Representatives. Rector retired from his law practice in July 1888, but in March 1892 President Benjamin Harrison appointed him judge of the Northern Judicial District of Texas. He held that position until his death in Austin on April 9, 1898. After Episcopal rites, he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Austin Statesman, March 10, 1898. History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Lawyers
  • General Law

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

Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, “Rector, John B.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 04, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995