Stephen Augustus Venters, merchant, judge, and state representative, was born in Pitt County, North Carolina, on June 27, 1822. He studied in the common schools of Pitt County, and upon reaching maturity he engaged as a merchant. In 1846 Venters immigrated to Texas and found employment as a clerk in the Peters Colony land office, located near present-day Hebron in southeastern Denton County. He remained an employee of the colony until an escalating dispute over land claims culminated with the Hedgcoxe War of 1852, when the colony’s office and records were seized by a group of armed settlers led by future Dallas mayor John Jay Good. Following that fiasco, Venters went into business as a stock raiser and grocer.
Venters quickly assumed a leading role in the early government of Denton County, which was formally organized within months of his arrival. In 1848 he won his first election as county clerk—a position he held off and on for nearly twenty years. He also served at various times as postmaster, justice of the peace, county land commissioner, and was twice elected to the office of county judge. Additionally, Venters was a charter member of the Denton Odd Fellows lodge and a generous benefactor of the Oak Grove Methodist Church in present-day Aubrey, Texas. In 1872 he won election, on the Democratic ticket, as representative for District 22—comprised of Cooke, Denton, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Wise, Clay, Young, Wichita, Knox, Throckmorton, Baylor, Wilbarger, Haskell, and Hardeman counties—to the Thirteenth Texas Legislature. Venters returned to state office in 1879 and won election as representative for District 51—comprised of Denton County—to the Sixteenth Texas Legislature.
Venters died on March 12, 1881, and was buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Denton.
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Edmund Franklin Bates, History and Reminiscences of Denton County (Denton, Texas: McNitzky Printing Co., 1918; rpt., Denton: Terrill Wheeler Printing, 1976). E. W. Swindells, A Legislative Manual for the State of Texas (2 vols. Austin: 1879–83). Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939). Denton Record Chronicle, August 20, 1975.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Politics and Government
Thirteenth Legislature (1873)
Sixteenth Legislature (1879)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Aragorn Storm Miller and R. Matt Abigail,
“Venters, Stephen Augustus,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 03, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
July 1, 2014