Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share
sidebar menu icon


BARRETT, WILLIAM MARTIN (1812–1867). William Martin Barrett, builder, was born in Dinwiddie, Virginia, in 1812, and came to Texas in 1841. He was appointed architect and contractor for the first permanent building of Austin College in Huntsville in 1851. When the college was moved to Sherman in 1876, the building was used for public school purposes; in 1879 it became the first building of Sam Houston Normal Institute (now Sam Houston State University). It is still in use by the college and is the oldest building in Texas used continuously for educational purposes. Barrett was a colonel in the Mexican War and also served as an officer in the Civil War. He was allegedly a cousin of William Barret Travis and a friend of Sam Houston, who was an Austin College trustee. Barrett married Mrs. Nancy Keenan Hamilton in Huntsville on December 5, 1847; they had four children. Barrett died in Huntsville on September 18, 1867, of yellow fever.


Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]).

Aline Law

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Aline Law, "BARRETT, WILLIAM MARTIN," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.