Williams, Charles F. Augustus (1809–ca. 1849)

By: Ronald Howard Livingston

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 13, 2020

Charles F. Augustus (Gus) Williams, soldier and legislator, was born in North Carolina on May 3, 1809. He was the youngest of four sons (the eighth of nine children) of Marmaduke "Duke" and Ede (Harris) Williams. He was a brother of Old Three Hundred colonists Robert H. and John Williams. His eldest brother, Christopher Harris Williams of Lexington, Tennessee, was a Whig representative in the United States Congress. Williams and his wife Love moved to Texas from Mississippi in 1825. They apparently originally resided with or near the family of his brother Robert on Caney Creek in present Matagorda County. On November 19, 1832, Augustus was granted a sitio of land in the area of present Brazos County under Stephen F. Austin's second colonization contract. During late 1833 and all of 1834 he was the sheriff of the Municipality of Brazoria (which, by act of the Congress of Coahuila and Texas on April 25, 1834, became the Municipality of Columbia, with its capital in the town of Columbia). The diary of William Barret Travis shows that he spent the night of January 26, 1834, in Williams's home, located between Columbia and Brazoria. Williams lost his bid for the 1835 term for sheriff to John Smith Davenport Byrom. He may have been a partner in the firm of Howth and Williams, which conducted business in Brazoria in 1834 and 1835. Williams apparently returned to the United States before the outbreak of the Texas Revolution. He was honorably discharged from the United States Army, in which he had been for several months a military storekeeper, on February 8, 1842. In April 1842 he arrived in Texas as captain in command of a company of Tennessee volunteers raised in response to Mexican incursions into Texas in March. At their camp on Corpus Christi Bay, the men of the volunteer companies stationed there selected Williams as commander until the expected arrival of Col. Clark L. Owen and elevated him to the rank of major (although the rank was never officially recognized). He led the men in refusing to accept Owen's replacement, Maj. Thomas Casey, an 1838 West Point graduate. By order of President Houston, Williams was discharged for mutiny; however, Congress restored him to his rank, over presidential veto, pending a trial. By the time of the Congressional action Williams's company had disintegrated. A court-martial was not held. Williams represented Fayette County in the House of Representatives of the Ninth Congress (1844–45). On June 12, 1845, he killed Fayette County sheriff Aaron A. Gardinier in a duel over a political race. An advertisement in the August 28, 1845, (Washington) Texas National Register noted that Williams would be running his horse Mariah Jones in a race to be held at the Washington Course on the last Thursday of the following November. In 1846 Williams, having moved to Goliad, represented Goliad County in the House of Representatives of the First Legislature of the state of Texas. At Goliad on October 25, 1845, Williams was enrolled as a private in Capt. John T. Price's Company, Texas Mounted Volunteers. The company mustered out at its camp opposite Matamoros on June 25, 1846. Williams died at Brownsville, probably in 1849.

Frank Brown, Annals of Travis County and the City of Austin (MS, Frank Brown Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., 1986–88). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Villamae Williams, Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families (Nacogdoches, Texas: Ericson, 1984).

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

Ronald Howard Livingston, “Williams, Charles F. Augustus,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/williams-charles-f-augustus.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 13, 2020