Wolters, Jacob Franklin (1871–1935)

By: David S. Walkup

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 30, 2019

Jacob Franklin Wolters, legislator and soldier, son of Theodore Henry and Margaret (Wink) Wolters, was born near New Ulm, Texas, on September 2, 1871. He attended public schools in Schulenburg and Add-Ran College (later Texas Christian University), where he studied law. In 1892 he was admitted to the state bar and was elected Fayette county attorney. Wolters represented the county in the House of the Twenty-fifth Legislature in 1897 and served as Democratic presidential elector in 1900 and 1904. In 1905 he established a law partnership in Houston with Jonathan Lane and James X. Storey. In 1908 he led Democratic party anti-prohibitionist forces in defeating a prohibition amendment and managed the 1911 anti-prohibition campaign. Wolters refused to answer questions put to him by the House of Representatives concerning the 1911 campaign and was sued for contempt in the Ex parte Wolters case. He was later vindicated by the courts. In 1912 he was defeated by John Morris Sheppard as Democratic nominee for the United States Senate. In 1918 he united with A. J. Barton of the Anti-Saloon League of Texas to elect William Pettus Hobby for governor.

Wolters entered the Texas National Guard as a private in Company D of the Fayette Light Guards in 1891, served as first lieutenant of the First Texas Cavalry, United States Volunteers, during the Spanish-American War, and organized the Fifty-sixth Cavalry Brigade during World War I. He commanded the guard when martial law was declared at Longview, Corpus Christi, Galveston, Mexia, and Borger. Camp Wolters (later Fort Wolters), which was established in Palo Pinto County in 1925 as a training camp for the Fifty-sixth Brigade, was named for him. Wolters became brigadier general of the Texas National Guard on April 1, 1918, and was made major general on retirement.

On April 25, 1893, Wolters married Sallie Drane of Columbus. They had two sons. Wolters at one time held a controlling interest in the Austin Statesman (later the Austin American-Statesman). His book Dawson's Men and the Mier Expedition was published in 1927 and Martial Law and Its Administration in 1930. Wolters was a member of several Masonic orders. He was serving as general counsel for the Texas Company (later Texaco) at the time of his death. He died on October 8, 1935, and was buried in Houston's Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Austin Statesman, October 9, 1935. Emory A. Bailey, Who's Who in Texas (Dallas: John B. McCraw Press, 1931). Dallas Morning News, October 9, 1935. Houston Post, October 9, 1935. Members of the Legislature of the State of Texas from 1846 to 1939 (Austin: Texas Legislature, 1939). Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s

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

David S. Walkup, “Wolters, Jacob Franklin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 08, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wolters-jacob-franklin.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 30, 2019