Willcox, Charles (1785–1876)

By: Kevin Ladd

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Updated: March 19, 2019

Charles Willcox (Wilcox), pioneer settler of Chambers County, was born on January 18, 1785, in Rhode Island, possibly a son of Tyler and Deborah (Russell) Wilcox. He went to sea as a young man around 1803 and may have become associated several years later with Jean Laffite. Willcox initially arrived in Galveston on May 26, 1830, spent the summer at Harrisburg, and went to New Orleans that fall. He moved to the Mexican garrison town of Anahuac on March 3, 1831. There he opened a general merchandise store in partnership with Dr. Nicholas D. Labadie. Willcox maintained the store on his own until at least 1875. He was also engaged in stock raising throughout his life. He appears to have been closely allied with attorney William Barret Travis and Capt. Antonio Tenorio, the Mexican commander of Fort Anahuac, during the 1835 seizure of the fort by Travis (see ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES). Willcox served as subalcalde at Anahuac during that period and survived an apparent attempt on his life shortly thereafter. He was justice of the peace in Anahuac during the spring of 1836 and was in the army from July to October of that year. He was justice of the peace again in 1846 and was briefly postmaster. In 1838 Thomas Jefferson Chambers and Willcox became embroiled in a court battle over ownership of the Anahuac townsite. The long-running process extended to control of the post office and the name of the town. Willcox was again postmaster from 1849 to 1855, during which time the post office was called Anahuac. Associates of Chambers held the office from 1846 to 1849 and 1855 to 1860 and called the office and town Chambersea. Willcox won the suit in 1862, but the conflict lasted until Chambers was assassinated in 1865. Willcox returned to New England and married Phoebe Caroline Smith on February 18, 1838. They were the parents of eight children. Charles Willcox died on February 7, 1876, at Anahuac and was buried in a small cemetery near the family home. His body, along with those of other family members, was removed to the Anahuac Cemetery after 1933.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Galveston Weekly News, August 3, 1858, August 23, 30, 1875, February 21, 1876. Margaret S. Henson and Kevin Ladd, Chambers County: A Pictorial History (Norfolk, Virginia: Donning, 1988). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Nicholas D. Labadie Papers, Barstow Collection, San Jacinto Museum of History. Nicholas D. Labadie Papers, Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library, Galveston. Gifford E. White, 1830 Citizens of Texas (Austin: Eakin, 1983). Villamae Williams, Board of Land Commissioners Minutes for Liberty County, Texas (St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984).


  • Business
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials

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

Kevin Ladd, “Willcox, Charles,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 26, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/willcox-charles.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995
March 19, 2019