Winkler, Clinton McKamy (1821–1882)

By: Robert N. Jones, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 1995

Clinton McKamy Winkler, Confederate soldier, lawyer, and judge of the Court of Appeals, was born in Burke County, North Carolina, on October 19, 1821, the son of David Tate and Lavinia Gates (Owen) Winkler. Born into the family of a small farmer, young Clinton did not have an opportunity for a formal education. However, at the hands of rural schoolmasters and his mother, who was the daughter of a prominent teacher, his education was not neglected. His family moved to Indiana in 1835, and there he grew to manhood. When he was not yet nineteen, Winkler determined to move to Texas, and he settled in Franklin, Robertson County, in July 1840. He very soon became involved in frontier life, joining numerous expeditions to track down marauding Indians. In 1843 he became district clerk pro tem. While serving in this capacity, he was admitted to the bar at Franklin on April 27, 1844, by Judge Robert E. B. Baylor. He was shortly thereafter elected to a full term as district clerk. Early residents of Navarro County claimed that Winkler was instrumental in persuading the First Legislature to demark Navarro County from Robertson County in 1846. Though the story cannot be documented satisfactorily, Winkler moved to the new county in 1847. Later that year, he was elected to the legislature. He is credited with sponsorship of the legislative act making Corsicana the county seat. On Christmas Eve, 1848, the legislator married a young widow, Louisa R. Smith. They had three children. At the expiration of his term of office, Winkler returned to Corsicana and engaged in the practice of law throughout the next decade. After the election of Abraham Lincoln, Winkler and six other prominent Navarro countians organized the secession movement in the county. Winkler then volunteered for Confederate service and was elected commander of the Navarro Rifles. The Rifles became Company I, Fourth Regiment, Hood's Texas Brigade, the only unit of Texas infantry to serve in Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Captain Winkler led the company until the battle of Gettysburg, at which he was severely wounded. He was later promoted to major and lieutenant colonel. At Appomattox Winkler was in command of the Fourth Regiment. During the conflict, in November 1861, Winkler's wife died in Texas. He married Angelina V. Smith of Richmond, Virginia, on January 7, 1864. To this second union were born six children. Mrs. Winkler accompanied her husband to Texas after the war. In Corsicana, Winkler became active in civic, legal, and political affairs. He helped organize the community's volunteer fire department and bar association. He became grand master of the state Masonic lodge in 1870 and helped to organize the Hood's Texas Brigade Association two years later. Active in the Democratic party in its attempt to end Reconstruction, Winkler was named state executive committee chairman. In 1872 he was again elected to the legislature. He served only one term, but returned to public life in 1876 as an associate judge of the state Court of Appeals. He remained on the bench until his death in Austin on May 13, 1882. The lifelong Methodist was buried beside his first wife in Corsicana. Winkler County was named in his honor.

Memorial and Biographical History of Navarro, Henderson, Anderson, Limestone, Freestone, and Leon Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Second Legislature (1847-1848)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Robert N. Jones, Jr., “Winkler, Clinton McKamy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995

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