Secrest, Washington Hampton (1809–1854)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Revised by: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell and Brett J. Derbes

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 17, 2021


Washington Hampton Secrest, soldier, was born in Tennessee in 1809 and moved to Texas with his brother Felix G. Secrest in 1835. During the Texas Revolution he enlisted as a private in Capt. Henry W. Karnes's company of Mirabeau B. Lamar's cavalry corps but most often was on detached service as a scout with Erastus (Deaf) Smith. In this capacity he was with Moseley Baker at the time of the evacuation and burning of San Felipe, and, when Baker authorized the troops to loot the town before it was put to the torch, Secrest chose a small Bible belonging to Sumner Bacon as his part of the spoils. Years later he joined the Methodist Church at Rutersville; he claimed that he had read the Bible every day since the fall of San Felipe. According to the recollections of pioneer memoirist Dilue Rose Harris, Secrest was one of the men who captured General Santa Anna after the battle of San Jacinto. After that battle Secrest was elected captain of the Washington Cavalry Company, a post he held from June until the company was disbanded on October 23, 1836. For his services he was granted a headright in Colorado County in 1838. He married Comfort Robinson in Colorado County on November 25, 1837, and the couple had four children. By 1841 he was living in Fort Bend County, where he was authorized a league and a labor of land on January 16, 1850. On September 22, 1842, Sam Houston commissioned Secrest to raise a company of rangers in response to Rafael Vásquez's raid on San Antonio. Secrest was characterized as something of a daredevil, and Houston wrote to him, "Your characteristic activity, caution and valor will be of great use, and contribute much to the success of our arms." In 1850 he identified as a sportsman and lived in Fort Bend County, where he owned one slave. On July 10, 1852, the Texas State Gazette erroneously reported that Secrest had been shot and killed at Columbus, Texas, during an altercation with a man named Taylor on June 21. On July 17 the newspaper rescinded that report and stated that Secrest had been stabbed but was recovering. He died of natural causes on February 3, 1854, and he was buried at the Navidad Baptist Cemetery in Schulenberg.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Nacogdoches Chronicle, March 21, 1854, Homer S. Thrall, History of Methodism in Texas (Houston: Cushing, 1872; rpt., n.p.: Walsworth, 1976). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer Revised by Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell and Brett J. Derbes, “Secrest, Washington Hampton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 03, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/secrest-washington-hampton.

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1952
November 17, 2021

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