Wortham, William Amos (1830–1910)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 28, 2020

William Amos Wortham, journalist, legislator, and soldier, was born in Maury County, Tennessee, on November 3, 1830, the son of William H. and Elizabeth (Johnston) Wortham. In 1843 he and his widowed mother immigrated to Texas, settling first in Lamar County and then in Harrison County. He was apprenticed for three years to a local printer in Marshall. On June 11, 1852, he married Adeline E. Ashcroft (Ashcraft) in Tyler. They had five children, including William B. Wortham, who was to become state treasurer and chairman of the Railroad Commission. In 1853 Wortham moved his family to Jefferson, where for two years he was a newspaper publisher. In 1855 he moved to Sulphur Springs in Hopkins County, where he became editor and publisher of the Gazette-News. In 1856 he was elected justice of the peace and in 1858 district clerk. In 1859 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Eighth Legislature; he was reelected in 1861 but resigned to join the Confederate army. In December 1861 Wortham enlisted in Capt. Zachary Scott's Company H of Lt. Col. R. P. Crump's battalion of what became Col. Julius A. Andrews's Thirty-second Texas Cavalry of Mathew D. Ector's brigade. This unit took part in Benjamin McCulloch's 1861 and 1862 campaigns in Arkansas and Missouri and in Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky in 1862. By 1863 Wortham had risen to captain of his company but was compelled by chronic ill health to resign and return to Texas. Late in 1863, when Col. James B. Likens organized the Thirty-fifth Texas Cavalry, Wortham was elected major and was later promoted to lieutenant colonel. This regiment served in Texas until 1864, when it was transferred to Louisiana to take part in the Red River campaign. Wortham served as the regimental commander through the final months of the Civil War and was promoted to colonel just before its end. He then returned to Sulfur Springs and the Gazette-News. As a staunch state's rights Democrat, he was often in opposition to the authorities during Reconstruction. He represented the Twenty-fourth District in the House of Representatives of the Fourteenth Legislature and in the Senate of the Fifteenth. On November 7, 1882, he was returned to the house after narrowly defeating his Greenback opponent, O. S. Davis. In 1891 Governor James S. Hogg appointed Wortham superintendent of the State Orphans' Asylum (see CORSICANA STATE HOME) at Corsicana. He was subsequently reappointed by Governor Charles A. Culberson, serving a total of eight years. Wortham died in Fort Worth on October 1, 1910. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, a Mason, and an Odd Fellow.

Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas (Chicago: Battey, 1889; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Texas Republican, June 26, 1852. Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965). Mamie Yeary, Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray (McGregor, Texas, 1912; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: Morningside, 1986).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Publishers and Executives

Time Periods:

  • Civil War


  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Wortham, William Amos,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 04, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wortham-william-amos.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 28, 2020

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