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Scurlock, William [1807–1885] (1807–1885)

Essie Walton Martin Biography Entry

William Scurlock, early settler and participant in the Texas Revolution, was born on October 22, 1807, in Chatham County, North Carolina, the son of Joseph and Martha Jones (Glasgow) Sheppard Scurlock and brother of Mial Scurlock. He moved to Tennessee about 1826 or 1828, then to Mississippi. According to family tradition, he studied medicine for several years before moving to Texas in 1834 with his slaves. He lived in San Augustine, where he worked as a clerk. Scurlock enlisted in Capt. Henry W. Augustine's company of the revolutionary army on October 17, 1835, in San Augustine. He reportedly fought in the battle of Concepción on October 28, although one source suggests that Augustine's company did not reach the scene of that engagement in time to participate. He was involved in the Grass Fight on November 26 and in the siege of Bexar, which concluded with the capitulation of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos on December 10, 1835. In the latter two engagements Scurlock may have been a member of Capt. Thomas Lewellen's company. After the capture of San Antonio he became a member of a reorganized company under Lewellen that joined the Matamoros expedition of 1835–36. Scurlock was out rounding up horses on March 2, 1836, and thus escaped the battle of Agua Dulce Creek. He then joined Capt. David N. Burke's company under Col. James W. Fannin's command at Goliad. After being taken prisoner at the battle of Coleto on March 20, Scurlock was made a medical assistant and spared from the Goliad Massacre on March 27. After the battle of San Jacinto Gen. José Urrea was ordered to withdraw his army from Texas. Scurlock and several other prisoners were to accompany the Mexican wounded, who were to be sent by ship from Copano to Matamoros. On their way to Copano, however, Scurlock escaped at Refugio. He was reportedly recaptured but either escaped again or was set free. He was honorably discharged in Victoria on May 29, 1836. After returning to San Augustine he became captain of a company of volunteers that enlisted on July 4, 1836, for a three-month term under Thomas J. Rusk's command.

Scurlock may have been the William Scurlock who served on the first commission established to select a permanent site for the Texas capital. This five-member group, elected by the Congress of the Republic of Texas on October 24, 1837, submitted its report on November 20, 1837. The report described potential sites but did not make a specific recommendation. According to his first-class headright, Scurlock was a single man at the time of the Texas Declaration of Independence and the head of a household. He married Frances Augusta Thompson in 1837, and they had eleven children. Scurlock and his family lived on a farm twelve miles southeast of San Augustine in western Sabine County, where in the years before the Civil War he enjoyed increasing prosperity. In 1837 and 1838 he reported owning five slaves. By 1840 he owned seven slaves and held title to 250 acres. By 1850 he owned fourteen slaves and real estate valued at $800. In 1860 he owned fifteen slaves, who must have represented the bulk of his personal-property assets of $15,941. His real property that year was valued at $15,238. Scurlock also received various land grants for his military service and status as an early citizen. These included 4,605.5 acres for having been a Texas resident at the time of the Declaration of Independence, which land he patented in Travis County in 1853; 320 acres for military service from July 4 to October 4, 1836, which he patented in Taylor in 1854; and 960 acres for service from October 17, 1835, to October 4, 1836, which he patented in the town of Coryell in 1852. Six hundred forty acres, for which Scurlock was eligible by virtue of his participation in the battle of Coleto, was patented in Callahan County by his heirs in 1854. Scurlock served as a county commissioner from 1864 to 1866, with a possible hiatus in the immediate aftermath of the war. On November 2, 1870, he applied for his pension as a veteran of the Texas Revolution. Although his claim for the $250 annual allowance was approved, on July 3, 1874, he testified that he had not received anything. He later received a veteran's donation warrant for 1,280 acres, in accordance with legislation passed in 1881.

Scurlock and his wife were early members of McMahan's Chapel, a historic Methodist church located three miles southwest of Geneva. Scurlock also belonged to Red Land Masonic Lodge No. 3 in San Augustine and was a member of the Texas Veterans Association. In 1852 he was one of six Masonic incorporators of Red Mount Seminary, near his home. He died on January 31, 1885, and was buried in Scurlock Cemetery, near the Sabine-San Augustine county line, off Goat Hill Road (via Farm Road 1), four miles southwest of Geneva. A historical marker was dedicated at the cemetery in 1981. See also LAND GRANTS.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Robert Cecil McDaniel, Sabine County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1987). Essie Walton Martin, The Scurlocks: Seekers of Freedom (1985). Abel Morgan, An Account of the Battle of Goliad and Fanning's Massacre (Paducah, Kentucky?, 1847?). Cooper K. Ragan, Josephus Somerville Irvine: Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Josephus Somerville Irvine Monument (Houston, 1963). Gifford White, First Settlers of Sabine County, Texas (St. Louis: Ingmire, 1983).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Essie Walton Martin, “Scurlock, William [1807–1885],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 24, 2021,

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