Smith, Meriwether Woodson (ca. 1807–1837)

By: Ronald Howard Livingston

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 27, 2017

Meriwether Woodson (Poker) Smith, entrepreneur, revolutionist, and delegate to the Consultation, was born about 1807 and may have arrived in Texas as early as 1832. He was involved with Jeremiah Brown and Thomas F. McKinney in the attempt to establish the town of Jackson in the summer of 1833. On September 8, 1833, Robert Dillon Moore brought suit against him in the Brazoria alcalde court in the matter of a contract and note for $150. Alcalde Henry Smith ordered the attachment of goods and effects sufficient to cover the note plus costs; however, on October 3 the defendant pleaded that the facts as presented were false and requested release from attachment. In his diary William Barret Travis recorded several small loans he and Smith made to each other in San Felipe and Brazoria during the months of October and November 1833. On January 28, 1834, in Brazoria, Travis was retained by George Elliott to defend him in a suit brought by Smith against Elliott and Solomon Williams on a note for $257. Possibly due to Elliott's desire for a delay, the case did not go before the alcalde court until March 19, 1834. In February 1834 Smith purchased the hotel of Mrs. Jane H. Long in Brazoria and for some months thereafter was assisted in its operation by Robert Stevenson and his wife Narcissi. At Tenoxtitlán on April 19, 1834, Smith applied for land in the colony of Austin and Williams, describing himself as unmarried and twenty-seven years of age. The July 5, 1834, issue of the Brazoria Texas Republican carried Smith's notice that he would be spending two months in the "up country" and that during his absence his Brazoria Hotel would be operated by Alexander Russell. Stevenson advertised in the same issue the opening of his own hotel in Brazoria. Upon his return, Smith formed a short-lived partnership, apparently for the operation of the hotel, with Elizabeth Bailey, widow of Gaines Bailey, and advertised his desire to employ two first-rate carpenters for three or four months. On January 2, 1835, Smith bought an interest in the steam sawmill and gristmill at Harrisburg and later became president of the reorganized Harrisburg Steam-Mill in Texas. At Harrisburg on June 4, 1835, he and fifty-seven others signed an agreement to assemble in Harrisburg on June 6, elect officers, and proceed to Anahuac to attack the Mexican garrison there. Notations on the document made after the garrison's capitulation at the end of the month indicate that Smith decided against participating in the attack. He did, however, carry Travis's account of the event from San Felipe to Henry Smith in the Municipality of Columbia.

Smith was elected to represent the Municipality of Harrisburg at the Consultation in the fall of 1835. On his motion on November 12, 1835, Sam Houston was elected major general of the armies of Texas. Two days later Smith moved that the Consultation adjourn and that all members who were able to do so should repair to San Antonio to assist in the siege. On December 12, 1835, Smith, James W. Fannin, Jr., and other "citizens of Matagorda and its vicinity" addressed a recommendation of port officers for the port of Matagorda to Governor Henry Smith and the General Council. Smith served in the army during the Texas Revolution from October 1, 1835, to April 5, 1836. He participated in the siege of Bexar in December 1835 and on December 20 of that year 1835 was elected a first lieutenant of the Legion of Cavalry by the General Council. He was sent to recruit men in Alabama and left there in mid-February 1836. In March sixteen recruits deserted in New Orleans because Smith had not been allotted sufficient funds for provisions to get them to Texas. Pursuant to Houston's orders, Smith positioned his thirty-two-man force on the prairie east of the Brazos opposite Thompson's Ferry in late March and early April. He was then suffering from a lingering illness that he had contracted while recruiting. He tendered his resignation on April 5, 1836, due to his illness, and sent twenty-six of his men to join Houston's force. In the July 8, 1837, issue of the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register, Smith advertised the town of Buffalo, which he laid out on a 1,000-acre tract of the William Vince survey on Buffalo Bayou. Though the town never materialized, it was jokingly referred to as Pokersville, with reference to Smith's expertise in the game of poker, which earned him the cognomen Poker Smith. In a letter to his father (Lorrain Thompson Pease), Elisha M. Pease, who first met Smith at Velasco in January 1835, commented on Smith’s gentility in manners and dress. Smith died in Harrisburg on July 26, 1837, leaving an estate composed chiefly of military accoutrements and uniforms.

John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Andrew Forest Muir, Texas in 1837 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). William Barret Travis, Diary, ed. Robert E. Davis (Waco: Texian Press, 1966).

Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Ronald Howard Livingston, “Smith, Meriwether Woodson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 27, 2017

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