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Thomson, William Dowsing (1806–1866)

Aragorn Storm Miller Biography Entry

William Dowsing Thomson, farmer, businessman, public servant, and state representative, was born in Georgia on November 14, 1806. He was the son of Alexander S. Thomson, Jr., and Elizabeth Maury (Dowsing) Thomson. He was raised in both Georgia and Giles County, Tennessee. On October 25, 1831, Thomson married Permelia Ann Evans in Maury County, Tennessee. They had eight children. Between 1830 and 1832 he accompanied his father, a surveyor and partner of empresario Sterling Robertson, on several expeditions to Texas. Working from the town of Nashville, Texas, they helped establish the first Anglo-American colonial settlements at Robertson’s Colony in present-day Burleson and Milam counties. During the Texas Revolution, Thomson volunteered for duty with Sam Houston’s forces and participated in the battle of San Jacinto. Following the establishment of Milam County in 1836, he served as first county clerk and postmaster from 1837 to 1842. He also served as an engrossing clerk in the House of Representatives during the First Congress of the Republic of Texas, held at Columbia in 1836.

In 1838 Thomson brought his family to Texas from Tennessee and worked as a farmer, hotel keeper, and Brazos River ferry operator in the town of Old Nashville in Milam County. Following the entry of Texas into the United States, in 1846 Thomson served in a group of commissioners charged with establishing the county seat in Cameron, Texas. In 1847 he received a grant of land in Milam County for his service at San Jacinto, and by 1850 Thomson was among the prosperous and influential citizens of Milam County and claimed $12,000 in personal and real property. Thomson represented Milam and Williamson counties in the House of the Fourth Texas Legislature from 1851 to 1853. In 1855 he relocated to Austin. Thomson died in Burleson County on November 4, 1866, and was buried at the Thomson Family Cemetery in Yellow Prairie, Texas (later known as Chriesman, Texas).

History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). L. W. Kemp, ed., “Early Days in Milam County: Reminiscences of Susan Turnham McCown,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50 (January 1947). Mrs. John T. Martin and Mrs. Louis C. Hill, Milam County, Texas, Records (2 vols., Waco, 1965, 1968). Olive Todd Walker, "Esther Amanda Sherrill Cullins," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 47 (January 1944).


  • Fourth Legislature (1851-1853)
  • House

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Aragorn Storm Miller, “Thomson, William Dowsing,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 31, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: