John Dickson Templeton, lawyer and public official, was born in Henderson County, Tennessee, on August 21, 1845, the son of Thomas Wilson and Elvira Carolina (Dickson) Templeton. In 1850 the Templeton family moved to Texas and settled in Rusk County; eleven years later they moved to Franklin County. Templeton spent most of his boyhood in Texas, and upon the state's secession from the Union he joined in the fight. In 1862, at age seventeen, he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in the Tenth Texas Cavalry. He participated in campaigns in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and at the end of the Civil War he returned to Texas. Initially he worked in farming and schoolteaching, but eventually he decided to become a lawyer. In 1868 he entered the law school of future Texas governor Oran M. Roberts in Gilmer, Texas. After being admitted to the bar in 1870, Templeton set up his practice in Fort Worth. In 1872 he was made editor of the Fort Worth Democrat. Known as a "firm and unyielding Democrat," Templeton was appointed secretary of state by governor Roberts in 1879. Though he spent much of his time in Austin, he continued to assist in the development of Fort Worth. The city was suffering from inefficiencies in several public utilities, so Templeton and four other men organized a private company to supply water to the citizens. With the creation of the Fort Worth Water Works Company, the city finally had an adequate water system. Templeton continued his public duties when he was elected attorney general of Texas, serving from 1882 to 1886. Upon the completion of his tenure in this position, Templeton returned to Tarrant County to resume his private law practice. On April 24, 1893, he died at home in Fort Worth. On the day of his funeral, several courts in the city adjourned early to honor him.
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Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Oliver Knight, Fort Worth, Outpost on the Trinity (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953). Proceedings of the Texas Bar Association, 1894.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Templeton, John Dickson,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 15, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
October 2, 2020
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