Witt, Edgar E. (1876–1965)

By: Jake Tirey

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: March 30, 2019

Edgar E. Witt, lawyer and politician, was born on January 28, 1876, in Bell County, the son of James Monroe and Elizabeth (Simpson) Witt. He received his early education in the schools at Salado and earned an A.B. degree and an LL.B. degree from the University of Texas in 1900 and 1903, respectively. He began practicing law with a firm in Waco in 1906 and entered private practice with his brother, Charles F. Witt, in 1912. In 1914 Witt was elected to the House of Representatives of the Thirty-fourth Texas Legislature. In 1918 he entered the military service as a captain and was sent to Paris, France; while he was there a vacancy occurred in the Texas Senate, and his name was entered as a candidate in a special election, which he won. He served in the Senate until 1930, and it was largely through his efforts that the bill that established the Tenth Court of Civil Appeals was passed over the veto of the acting governor. Witt was elected lieutenant governor of Texas in 1930 and 1932 but was defeated in his bid for the governorship in 1934 by James V. Allred. Witt remained active in his law practice in Waco until President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him chairman of the special Mexican Claims Commission (1935–38) and again in 1943 chairman of the United States Mexican Claims Commission, an office he held until 1947. President Harry S. Truman appointed him chief commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission, and Witt served in that capacity until his retirement in June 1960. Witt remained an active member of the Democratic party throughout his life. He was married to Gwynne Johnstone on June 6, 1904; they had no children. Witt died in Austin on July 11, 1965, and was buried in the family plot in Oakwood Cemetery, Waco.

Austin American, July 12, 1965. Clarence R. Wharton, ed., Texas under Many Flags (5 vols., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1930). Who Was Who in America (Vol. 6).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • 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.

Jake Tirey, “Witt, Edgar E.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 15, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/witt-edgar-e.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 30, 2019