Judge James Tillman Smith biography

JUDGE JAMES TILLMAN SMITH, better known as Judge Tillman Smith, one of the brainy and successful representatives of the Fort Worth bar, who entered upon active participation in the affairs of the world at an early age by becoming a soldier in the Civil war, and who has been identified intimately with the development and welfare of North Texas during the war, filling an important place not only in his profession, but in the legislature and in other departments of activity, is a native of Anson county, North Carolina. His parents, William C. and Mary Anne (Tillman) Smith, were both natives of the Old North state, and both died at Cleburne, Texas, the father in 1886 and the mother in 1899.

When the Civil war broke out the son Tillman was a student at Davidson College in his native state, and though less than seventeen years old, he enlisted in the Confederate service in Company C, Fourteenth North Carolina troops, under Colonel R. T. Bennett as regimental commander, General D. H. Hill division commander, Jackson’s Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. He saw most of his service during the crucial campaigns in Virginia. He was wounded in the battle of Sharpsburg (known in the north as Antietam), September 17, 1862, and again wounded at the battle of Chancellorsville May 3, 1863, which latter wound disabled him so that he had to leave the army.

After leaving the field of war he resumed his education, becoming a student in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But he soon made up his mind to seek a field for his life efforts in the west, and accordingly arrived in Texas on June 28, 1865. He studied law and was admitted to the bar at Brenham in April, 1866. His first location on his coming to this state had been in Hill county, but he soon moved to Navasota, in Grimes county. He was located at Hillsboro from April, 1866, to the following October, and then returned to North Carolina and remained about a year. On again taking up his residence in Texas he located at Navasota, in Grimes county, and was engaged in the practice of his profession there until October, 1876. During this time he attained to considerable prominence in his part of the state and in 1874 was elected to represent his district in the state legislature, and in 1876 was chosen to the senate form the fifteenth senatorial district, composed of the counties of Grimes, Madison, Walker and Trinity. He resigned this office, however, in order to enter upon practice at Cleburne in partnership with Hon. A. W. DeBerry, who at that time was secretary of state. His powers as a lawyer increasing with his years, he sought a larger field for his professional activity, and in 1891 moved to Fort Worth, where he has since been engaged in attending to a large and constantly increasing practice. For several years he has practiced in partnership with his son, William C. Smith.

Mr. Smith is a prominent member of several fraternal orders, having affiliations with the Masons, the Knights of Honor and the Fraternal Mystic Circle. He is a member of the supreme lodge of the Knights of Honor and is chairman of the committee on appeals and grievances.

Mr. Smith was married in South Carolina November 27, 1867, to Miss Ellen Peguese, a native of that state. She died at Navasota, and he was subsequently married at that place to Miss Emma Adela DeMaret, who is a native of Louisiana and a member of one of the French families of St. Mary’s parish. Mr. Smith’s children, five in number, are as follows: William C. Smith, lawyer and in partnership with his father; DeMaret Smith, also a lawyer and is in the office of C. H. Yoakum, Texas attorney for the Frisco System; Selwyn Smith, Felix Smith and Ellen Peguese Smith.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 176-177.