Smith, John Titus (1815–1874)

By: Aragorn Storm Miller

Type: Biography

Published: October 7, 2014

John Titus Smith, judge, businessman, Confederate officer, and state representative, was born in Albany, New York, on March 5, 1815. Upon reaching adulthood, he relocated to Georgia, where he served in the state legislature. In 1849 Smith immigrated to Texas and settled in Crockett in Houston County. Here, he established himself as one of the leading citizens of the community and served as county judge from 1854 through 1860. He also engaged in business. He settled on a cotton plantation on the Trinity River at McKenzie’s Bend and operated a steamship, the Ida Reese. Smith, a Democrat, was elected as representative for Houston County to the Ninth Texas Legislature and served from 1861 to 1863.

In late 1861 he helped organize a company of cavalry in Houston County for service in the Confederate Army. The men mustered at Crockett on February 22, 1862, as Company B of the Thirteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment, with Smith securing election as captain and company commander. This unit served as dismounted cavalry in Arkansas and Louisiana and saw action at the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. It is not clear low long Smith served with this unit.

Following the war, Smith returned to Houston County. He served in the House of the Eleventh Texas Legislature from 1866 to 1870. He returned to the Thirteenth Texas Legislature, this time as representative for Houston and Cherokee counties, and served from January 1873 to January 1874, when he began his term in the Fourteenth legislature as a representative for Houston, Cherokee, Angelina, and Trinity counties. At that time he was also named as chair of the Public Debt Committee. John Titus Smith died in Austin while serving in the legislature on February 16, 1874. He was buried in Crockett at Glenwood Cemetery. He was married to Elizabeth Greene Gaines, and they had five daughters and one son that lived to adulthood. His son, John Beall Smith, later served in the Texas legislature. A Texas Historical Marker was erected in John T. Smith’s honor in 1985 in Glenwood Cemetery.

Armistead Albert Aldrich, The History of Houston County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1943). Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Thomas Nelms Mainer, Houston County in the Civil War (Crockett, Texas: Houston County Historical Commission, 1981). Legislative Reference Library of Texas: John T. Smith (, accessed October 7, 2014. The Political Graveyard (, accessed October 7, 2014.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Ninth Legislature (1861-1863)
  • Eleventh Legislature (1866)
  • Thirteenth Legislature (1873)
  • Fourteenth Legislature (1874-1875)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Aragorn Storm Miller, “Smith, John Titus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 7, 2014

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: