Whetstone, Peter (1790–1843)

By: Sallie M. Lentz

Revised by: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell and Brett J. Derbes

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 17, 2021

Peter Whetstone, founder of Marshall, Texas, was born in Indiana in 1790, the son of David and Rebecca (Hull) Whetstone. He married Dicey Webster in Arkansas on November 15, 1816, and the couple had six children. Apparently Whetstone was unable to read or write and was at best a “rough character.” There is a record of his being sentenced in 1823 to twenty-five lashes on his bare back for horse-stealing in Arkansas. And on September 5, 1830, Stephen F. Austin signed an order removing him and several other “bad men” from Texas. Nevertheless, Whetstone served in the Texas army, and obtained a grant in Harrison County, Texas, on February 12, 1838, under a first-class certificate, a fact that signified he was a married man and a resident of Texas at the time of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He received 320 acres of land in Wood County for his military service during the Texas Revolution and purchased an additional 640 acres of property in Upshur County. In 1841, as an inducement to the commissioners who were to locate a site for the county seat of Harrison County, Whetstone offered land for a church, courthouse, masonic temple, and girls’ school, as well as 190 city lots for Marshall. According to legend, added inducements from a jug of whiskey that he had hidden at the proposed spot. The offer was accepted, and Whetstone's friend, Isaac Van Zandt, reportedly named the town and its streets. Soon, Whetstone was drawn into the Regulator-Moderator War as a Moderator, and was killed on November 13, 1843, by Colonel Oliver T. Boulware outside a store on the Marshall town square. An obituary described Whetstone as "a noted freebooter who for many years has been an object of terror and hatred on the eastern frontier of Texas." It claimed that he had murdered at least twenty people, and it stated that his death occurred at his house, twenty miles from Shreveport. His widow, Dicey, was appointed administrator of his estate, which was settled some years later. Whetstone's grave is unmarked, but tradition locates it on Southwest Road, near his home site west of Marshall.

A. C. Greene, Sketches from the Five State of Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998). Sallie M. Lentz, “Highlights of Early Harrison County,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 61 (October 1957). Bill O’Neal, War in East Texas: Regulators vs. Moderators (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2006). Students of Marshall High School, Sketches Drawn from Marshall and Vicinity (Marshall, Texas, 1919). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Joyce Williamson, Pat Smith-Gasperson, Lucile Estell, and the Harrison County Historical Museum, Marshall (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011).


  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution
  • Republic of Texas

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

Sallie M. Lentz Revised by Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell and Brett J. Derbes, “Whetstone, Peter,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/whetstone-peter.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

November 17, 2021