Shannon, Thomas Jefferson (1808–1864)

By: Morris L. Britton

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Thomas Jefferson Shannon, land speculator, cattle breeder, and legislator, was born in Warren County, Kentucky, on January 17, 1808. His younger brother, James B., and a Thomas R. Shannon moved from Arkansas to Shelby County, Texas, in 1837. The following year the two were in old Fannin County. They seem to have been early settlers on Iron Ore Creek, now in Grayson County. In July 1839 T. J. Shannon moved from Missouri to Red River County, Texas. He settled five miles west of Clarksville near William Becknell, pioneer of the Santa Fe Trail. Shannon had been active in the Missouri militia and had helped remove the Cherokees from that state during the administration of Governor Lillburn W. Boggs. After he arrived in Red River County he was charged with fraud by Governor Marmaduke of Missouri in the case of a land transaction involving Becknell and James Shannon. The final judgment, issued by the Texas Supreme Court in 1850, was against Shannon. In 1845 Shannon moved to old Fannin County, where he settled on Iron Ore Creek south of James's place. After Grayson County was formed from Fannin County in 1846, James Shannon was one of the original commissioners appointed by the legislature to locate the county seat, to be named Sherman. The town was first established four or five miles northwest of the present site. Shannon and his brother bought and divided the J. B. McNair survey, a large tract in central Grayson County. Shannon moved to this property. When the original site of Sherman proved to be deficient in timber and water, and when difficulties arose in obtaining title from the Peters colony, Shannon ran for the Second Texas Legislature and campaigned for relocation of the town. He won the election and served from December 13, 1847, through March 20, 1848. Sherman was moved to its present location in 1848. Shannon and Samuel Blagg, another early settler, donated land for the new town, which became the county seat on February 8, 1850. Shannon became a pioneer in the cattle industry (see RANCHING) by bringing the first Durhams to the United States. Queen Victoria gave him three of the breed after he wrote her of his interest in them. Shannon paid the freight charges, and the animals were brought overland to North Texas. He developed the first addition to Sherman and donated a lot for a building to be used by several protestant congregations. He married Eliza Easton; they had nine children. Shannon died on February 16, 1864, and was buried in West Hill Cemetery, Sherman.

Eugene W. Bowers and Evelyn Oppenheimer, Red River Dust: True Tales of an American Yesterday (Waco: Word, 1969). Dallas Morning News, March 14, 1926. J. Frank Dobie, The Longhorns (Boston: Little, Brown, 1941; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822–1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898). Grayson County Frontier Village, History of Grayson County, Texas (2 vols., Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Hunter, 1979, 1981). Graham Landrum and Allen Smith, Grayson County (Fort Worth, 1960; 2d ed., Fort Worth: Historical Publishers, 1967). Members of the Texas Legislature, 1846–1962 (Austin, 1962). Gifford E. White, ed., The 1840 Census of the Republic of Texas (Austin: Pemberton, 1966; 2d ed., Vol. 2 of 1840 Citizens of Texas, Austin, 1984). J. W. Wilbarger, Indian Depredations in Texas (Austin: Hutchings, 1889; rpt., Austin: State House, 1985).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • Landowners and Land Developers
  • Second Legislature (1847-1848)
  • House

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

Morris L. Britton, “Shannon, Thomas Jefferson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995