Willis L. Robards, lawyer, soldier, and public official, was born in Granville, North Carolina, around 1818, the son of Nathaniel and Mary (Ridley) Robards. His family moved to Tennessee, and then in 1844 he moved with his brother to Washington County, Mississippi. He became county clerk there in 1847 and then turned to law and was admitted to the bar in Mississippi before he moved to Texas in 1853. He practiced law in Austin until the outbreak of the Civil War. He had opposed secession, but he joined the Confederate Army in 1862, served as a major under Henry Hopkins Sibley in New Mexico, was wounded at the battle of Valverde, and later served on the staff of Gen. Thomas Green in the Louisiana campaign. He resigned from the army in 1864, returned to Austin, and was elected comptroller of public accounts. Following the war, he was returned to the comptroller’s office during the James W. Throckmorton administration in 1866 but was removed from office by order of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan in 1867. Robards resumed his law practice and in 1868, at the age of fifty, married Jennie Reid, the stepsister of Colonel Thomas Ochiltree. They lived on a farm south of Austin and just before the birth of their third child, Robards died on December 13, 1872, and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery. After his death, 123 acres of his farmland was donated to help establish a Catholic school that eventually became St. Edward’s University.
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Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (MS, Frank Brown Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Dallas Weekly Herald, December 21, 28, 1872. Election Register, Texas State Archives, Austin.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell,
“Robards, Willis L.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 20, 2022
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