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Western, Thomas Gehot (1789–1848)

Thomas W. Cutrer, rev. by Randolph B. Campbell and Brett J. Derbes Biography Entry

Thomas Gehot Western, rancher, merchant, soldier, and Indian agent, was born in Westminster, Middlesex, England, on June 21, 1789, the son of Thomas and Ann (Membery) Western. The family relocated to New York City, in 1794. Thomas Western Sr. operated a store and sold imported cigars, sugar, and fruits imported from Cuba, but was declared insolvent in 1814. Thomas G. Western traveled from Havana, Cuba, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, aboard the schooner Three Sallys to arrive on December 14, 1818. His father Thomas passed away in Matanzas,Cuba, on July 27, 1820. Western became a member of the United Grand Lodge of England in Quebec, Canada, on May 12, 1826, and listed his occupation as “gentleman.”

Western relocated from New York to Texas in 1831. As early as 1832 Western was an advocate of Texas independence from Mexico, and through 1835 he remained in close communication with Stephen F. Austin regarding political conditions in Texas and Mexico. At the time of the outbreak of the Texas Revolution Western was living in Goliad, where he operated a store and owned considerable farming and ranching property. In October 1835 he, James Kerr, and John Linn were appointed commissioners to the Karankawa Indians, and from October 10 through December 12 Western served as commissary of the Texas army. On November 14 he left Goliad for San Felipe de Austin as a member of the Consultation. Leaving his business in the hands of Caleb Bennett, Western transported the first letters of marque and reprisal to the United States for the Texas government and while he was there recruited a forty-eight-man company of cavalry for the Texas army. Troops under the command of James W. Fannin requisitioned $1,800 worth of goods from Western's store and destroyed his home and several other buildings belonging to him to acquire timbers to fortify La Bahía. Troops under Mexican general José de Urrea later killed Bennett and appropriated the remainder of Western's goods, valued at $2,000. On February 25, 1837, Western delivered the eulogy at the burial of the remains of the defenders of the Alamo. Western remained in command of Company A of Col. Juan N. Seguín's Second Cavalry regiment of Texas army through 1838, achieving the rank of major. At some time prior to 1838 he moved to Harris County, where his headright for military service was located. He also owned hundreds of acres of land in Brazoria, Galveston, Lavaca, Travis, and Zavala County. He was a prominent Mason and was elected in 1837 as Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas. He never married. In 1838 and 1839 he served as an officer in the Texas Rangers and as interpreter among the Indians. In 1840 he was living in Austin, where he served as Spanish translator in the General Land office under John P. Borden. According to the census he owned one town lot and a gold watch. He was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs in 1841, a position he retained until Texas was annexed to the United States in 1845. Following the Rafael Vásquez raid of 1842, Western rejoined the army. He died in Houston on May 2, 1848.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). John P. Bowes, Land Too Good for Indians: Northern Indian Removal (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016). Galveston Daily News, November 30,1903. Bruce A. Glasrud, Harold J. Weiss, eds., Tracking the Texas Rangers: The Nineteenth Century (Denton: University of North Texas, 2012). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). New Orleans Bee, April 28, 1840. New York Morning Herald, February 2, 1830. Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Categories:

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Indian Agents
  • Politics and Government
  • Military
  • Campaigns, Battles, Raids, and Massacres
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Religion
  • Freemasonry

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, rev. by Randolph B. Campbell and Brett J. Derbes, “Western, Thomas Gehot,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 21, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/western-thomas-gehot.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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