Sneed, Sebron Graham (1802–1879)

By: Mary Wilcox Koch

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Sebron Graham Sneed, lawyer, was born on January 15, 1802, in Green County, Kentucky, the son of John Thomas and Mecca Isabell (Graham) Sneed, Jr. The family moved to Missouri, and in 1823 Sneed was elected a colonel in the Missouri militia. In 1824 and again in 1825 he was elected a justice of the peace in Clay County, Missouri. On December 22, 1824, Sneed married Marinda Adkins of Tennessee; they became the parents of eleven children. Sneed moved to Arkansas in 1830 and in December of that year was licensed to practice law. He was elected prosecuting attorney for the Fayetteville district in 1831 but was defeated for reelection in 1833. On February 4, 1839, he was appointed registrar of the United States Land Office in Arkansas and on November 28, 1839, was elected district judge of the Fayetteville district. He was commissioned judge of the Fourth Judicial District on November 18, 1844, and served until 1848. In the late 1830s and early 1840s he also practiced law in partnership with Williamson Simpson Oldham. The family moved to Austin, Texas, in the fall of 1848. Sneed and his wife joined the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, south of Austin, shortly after its founding. In 1857 he helped organize the Democratic party in Travis County. In the fall of 1858 he formed a law partnership with William M. Walton. The firm took in a son, Thomas E. Sneed, before it dissolved at the beginning of the Civil War. Though Sneed's knowledge of the law was limited, his mastery of rhetorical skills was legendary. He was described as "large and portly, fiery and tempestuous," the "Nestor of the Travis County bar." In 1850 Sneed held real estate valued at $5,000; in 1860 his estate included twenty-one slaves. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate Army as a provost marshal. His home was used as a recruiting station and then as a hospital for wounded soldiers. After the close of the war Sneed engaged in agriculture until his death, on April 19, 1879. Among the children surviving him was Sebron Graham Sneed, Jr. The Sneed home, on what is now Nelms Drive, called "one of the handsomest masonry structures in Texas," was still standing in 1991, though damaged by vandalism and fire. It was begun in 1854 and occupied in 1857, built by slaves from limestone quarried at the site. The top (third) floor served as a storage area and ballroom, and the house had four double fireplaces. It was originally known as Comal Bluff, named for the profusion of comal or mountain laurel, growing on the bluff below the house.

Drury Blakeley Alexander and (photographs) Todd Webb, Texas Homes of the Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966). Austin Daily Democratic Statesman, April 27, 1879. Austin Statesman and the Austin Tribune, July 1, 1915. Mary Starr Barkley, History of Travis County and Austin, 1839–1899 (Waco: Texian Press, 1963). Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (MS, Frank Brown Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). John Hallum, Biographical and Pictorial History of Arkansas (Albany: Weed, Parsons, 1887; rpt. 1922). W. J. Lemke, "Judge Sebron Graham Sneed," Flashback: Bulletin of the Washington County Historical Society (Fayetteville, Arkansas), October 1958. Sebron G. Sneed Family Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


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

Mary Wilcox Koch, “Sneed, Sebron Graham,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 21, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995