Thomas Williams, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born around 1771 and was probably from Georgia or northern Alabama. He and his wife, Nancy (Johnson) Gilleland, had six children, two of whom died before the family moved to Texas. Williams was the stepfather of Daniel and James Gilleland and Sarah (Gilleland) Kuykendall. He moved to Texas with his family and John Ingram from Arkansas Territory in the fall of 1821. They arrived at the Old San Antonio Road crossing of the Brazos River around December. Early in the spring the family moved from that location to the Colorado River about twenty-five miles from what is now La Grange. Several other Arkansas families had already settled on the Colorado. The March 1823 census of the Colorado district listed farmer Thomas Williams, aged fifty-two, his wife Nancy, aged forty-eight, and three children, the eldest, Thomas, aged sixteen. This son was very likely the Thomas Johnson Williams who fought in the Texas Revolution, and who, according to family history, was among those who found the disguised Antonio López de Santa Anna after the battle of San Jacinto. The elder Williams voted in the alcalde election at Robert H. Kuykendall's house in August 1823. Though the younger Williams claims in his memoirs that his father died at the age of fifty-three on July 4, 1824, Thomas Williams is recorded as receiving title to a sitio of land in present Matagorda County on August 16, 1824, and he and his nineteen-year-old son are listed in the 1825 census of the Colorado district. However, Thomas Williams was not listed in the 1826 census, and it is likely that the older man had died by that time.
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Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). J. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6–7 (January, April, July 1903). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., 1986–88). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Thomas J. Williams Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. E. W. Winkler, comp., Manuscript Letters and Documents of Early Texians (Austin: Steck, 1937).
Founders and Pioneers
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Williams, Thomas [1771?–1825?],”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 5, 2020
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