Williams, Leonard G. (1802–1854)

By: Doris Jeane Baldwin Pruett

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 19, 2019

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Leonard Goyen (Colonel Len) Williams [pseud. Leonard S. Williams, Leonard H. Williams, Leonardo Goyens, Leonard O. Goen], soldier and Indian agent, the son of Maria Priscilla and Thomas Williams, was born in 1802 in Tennessee. The family was in Missouri Territory (now Arkansas) by 1818 and in what is now Red River County in 1819. By 1821 Leonard was in the Nacogdoches District. His first grant of land, a Mexican grant dated March 28, 1829, included the town of Mount Enterprise in future Rusk County. This grant was for services in the Fredonian Rebellion, during which he served under Col. Peter Ellis Bean. Williams married Nancy Isaacs, the niece of Cherokee Indian chief Richard Fields; they had nine children. The family professed to be Roman Catholic. Nancy died about 1835. Williams then married Jane Ware; they had three children. Williams served in the revolutionary army at the siege of Bexar, where he lost the sight in one eye. He was a sergeant in Benton's Regiment of Regular Rangers and enrolled on March 31, 1836, for three months extra duty at Williams Crossing on the Neches River. He served with Thomas J. Rusk and William Goyens during the suppression of the Córdova Rebellion. On February 3, 1840, Williams was appointed as a commissioner to inspect the land office in Houston County; he was given the title of colonel by Sam Houston, who in 1842 appointed him one of four commissioners to deal or "treat" with the Indians. He participated in the Tehuacana Creek Councils and was an Indian agent at Torrey's Trading Post No. 2. During a trade trip as Indian agent for Houston, Williams came across Cynthia Ann Parker, captive of the noted attack on Fort Parker by the Comanche Indians. He was later sent as United States agent to try and ransom her. Although Williams used an X to sign various documents, he was considered an intelligent man with knowledge of seven or eight Indian dialects. He died in April 1854 on his homestead and was buried in what is now Pitts Cemetery in Limestone County. Williams was recognized for his service to Texas in the United States Congressional Record on April 8, 1965, and by the Texas legislature in May 1965.

Jack Moore, The Killough Massacre (Jacksonville, Texas: Kiely Printing, 1966). Carl Coke Rister, Border Captives: The Traffic in Prisoners by Southern Plains Indians, 1835–1875 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1940). U.S. Congress, Congressional Record (Washington: GPO, 1873-). 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). Jesse Wallace Williams, Old Texas Trails (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1979). Dorman H. Winfrey and James M. Day, eds., Texas Indian Papers (4 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1959–61; rpt., 5 vols., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1966).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Indian Agents
  • Politics and Government

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

Doris Jeane Baldwin Pruett, “Williams, Leonard G.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 18, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/williams-leonard-g.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 19, 2019