Reeves, Reuben A. (1821–1908)

By: Georgia Kemp Caraway

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Reuben A. Reeves, associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, was born on August 9, 1821, in Todd County, Kentucky. In 1846 he married Sarah Mills in Kentucky and moved with her to Palestine, Anderson County, Texas, where he practiced law. In 1850 his brother-in-law, Roger Quarles Mills, moved into his household. At this time the Reeves family had five slaves and real property valued at $2,350. In 1857 Reeves was elected district judge in Palestine. While living in that city, he was instrumental in forming the Palestine school system. By 1860 Judge and Mrs. Reeves had six children. His real property was valued at $10,000, and his personal property, which included thirteen slaves, was valued at $18,000. Reeves recruited, organized, and became captain of Company E, Terrell's Texas Cavalry (the Thirty-fourth Texas) on April 11, 1863. In August 1864 he was elected associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court in the place of James H. Bell, whose term had expired. Reeves resigned from the Confederate Army on September 28, 1864, to take the position. He served from November 1, 1864, until the end of the Civil War. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1866. On June 25, 1866, he was elected district court judge of District Nine. He was removed from office on November 30, 1867, as an "obstruction to Reconstruction" and was reappointed associate justice of the Supreme Court of Texas by Governor Richard Coke on January 30, 1874. He served in that capacity until the court was reorganized on April 18, 1876. Reeves returned to Palestine to practice law. In 1880 three of the Reeves children were living at home; one of his sons, William, later was elected district judge. Reeves was appointed in the mid-1880s by President Grover Cleveland to the Supreme Court of New Mexico Territory and served until 1889. On the election of President Benjamin Harrison, Reeves moved to Dallas and retired from politics. He was a life-long Democrat, a Mason, and a member of the Dallas Bar Association. He died in Dallas at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Jeff Word, on January 30, 1908, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Dallas.

C. Alwyn Barr, "The Making of a Secessionist: The Antebellum Career of Roger Q. Mills," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 79 (October 1975). Dallas Morning News, January 31, 1908. Pauline Buck Hohes, A Centennial History of Anderson County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1936). John W. Spencer, Terrell's Texas Cavalry (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982). Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Georgia Kemp Caraway, “Reeves, Reuben A.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

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