Smith, Thomas Jefferson (1808–1890)

By: Stephen L. Hardin

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: March 19, 2019

Thomas Jefferson Smith, soldier, sheriff, and blacksmith, was born in Virginia in 1808, orphaned as a small child, and reared by relatives in Georgia. He entered Texas in 1835 as a member of the Georgia Battalion and saw action during the siege of Bexar. Afterward he was attached to James Walker Fannin's Goliad command. As a member of William Ward's contingent Smith, a private in Uriah I. Bullock's company, fought at the battle of Refugio. He retreated from Refugio with others in Ward's command but was later captured near Victoria. He was one of sixteen men detained by the Mexicans at Victoria on March 23 to build a boat and was thus spared from the Goliad Massacre. He was, however, twice wounded, by a bullet in the hand during the battle of Refugio, and by a bayonet in the buttock while a prisoner. Late in April 1836 he escaped from the Mexicans and on June 15 was honorably discharged by Thomas Jefferson Rusk. After the Texas Revolution, Smith settled in Richmond, where he operated a blacksmith shop and ran a hotel and livery stable. On February 27, 1838, he was on a Fort Bend County list of jurors. He later served as county sheriff. In 1843 Smith married Mary E. Breen, and they had four children. He survived Mary and in January 1854 wed Julia Beale Bassett. They also had four children. In 1883 Smith wrote a detailed account of his experiences during the Texas Revolution. He died on February 16, 1890, and was buried in Morton Cemetery, Richmond.

John Henry Brown, History of Texas from 1685 to 1892 (2 vols., St. Louis: Daniell, 1893). Harbert Davenport, Notes from an Unfinished Study of Fannin and His Men (MS, Harbert Davenport Collection, Texas State Library, Austin; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Andrew Jackson Sowell, History of Fort Bend County (Houston: Coyle, 1904; rpt, Richmond, Texas: Fort Bend County Historical Museum, 1974).

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

Stephen L. Hardin, “Smith, Thomas Jefferson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 17, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995
March 19, 2019