Thurmond, Columbus Lafayette (1833–1903)

By: Craig H. Roell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 14, 2019

Columbus Lafayette Thurmond, a pioneer land agent, public official, and merchant, was born on November 13, 1833, in Lauderdale County, Tennessee, the youngest child of Dr. John G. and Ann Eliza (Sturgis) Thurmond. He moved to Texas at an early age with a brother and settled in Victoria. He worked as a salesman for Jesse O. Wheeler and by the 1850s had become a principal Victoria merchant and grocer. Thurmond married Margaret McGrew in Victoria, Texas, in 1857, and the couple had eleven children. He served at various times in a number of public offices: county treasurer, 1856; United States marshal, 1858–61; county assessor and tax collector, 1858–65; census taker for Victoria and Goliad counties, 1860; county sheriff, 1874–80 and 1886–92. "Zip" Thurmond, as he was called, was a Unionist bitterly opposed to the Civil War, during which he operated stores in Goliad and Brownsville. He moved to Lavaca County in 1869 and farmed for three years before returning to Victoria. In addition to his prominent grocery business in Victoria, he farmed and ranched 2,700 acres in Victoria County and worked as a land agent with his son, C. L. Thurmond, Jr. Their firm, Thurmond and Company, which operated from the 1850s to the 1890s, specialized in locating tracts for owners, many of whom were Easterners who had accepted unseen land in payment of debts. Thurmond's papers comprise more than 7,800 pages and deal with his activities as a merchant, tax collector, land dealer, and sheriff. Thurmond died at Victoria in 1903 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery.

Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Victor Marion Rose, History of Victoria (Laredo, 1883; rpt., Victoria, Texas: Book Mart, 1961). Columbus Lafayette Thurmond Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

Craig H. Roell, “Thurmond, Columbus Lafayette,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

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December 14, 2019