Judge W. B. Crockett biography

HON. W. B. CROCKETT, judge of the county court of Mitchell county, occupies a position of distinction as a representative of the bar of western Texas. He has been engaged actively in practice since September, 1888, and with a laudable ambition to attain success and prominence he has made a close study of the principles of jurisprudence, resulting in a ready mastery of the points in litigation that have come before him. He makes his home in Colorado, where is esteemed as a citizen as well as a member of the bar, his personal characteristics endearing him to a large circle of friends.

In tracing back the ancestry of the Crockett family it is generally supposed that there were originally four brothers of the name who came to this country from Ireland and were progenitors of the various branches of Crocketts now found in the United States. Judge Crockett is a fourth cousin of David Crockett, the noted scout and Indian fighter, whose experiences and discoveries in the west did so much to open up this great region for the purposes of civilization. His paternal grandfather, Samuel Crockett, removed from Tennessee to Marshall county, Mississippi, in 1836, and settled on a farm near Holly Springs, where he lived and died. He was a slave owner and planter prior to the Civil war, and was a well known an influential resident of his community. He died in 1878, during the yellow fever epidemic in Holly Springs, at the age of seventy-nine years. In his family were five sons and five daughters: William Samuel, Henderson, Nathaniel, Columbus, Sally, Nancy, Mary, Martha and Betsey. All were married and reared families, except Martha and Samuel.

William Henderson Barnett Crockett, father of Judge Crockett, was born in Tennessee and went to Mississippi with his parents in 1836, ever after making his home in that state. He was a planter and successfully managed his agricultural interest. He died at Forest City, Arkansas, in 1874, while on his way to Texas. He had been an interested student of Texas history, its progress and development and for many years had desired to come to this state. Finally he made arrangements to visit Texas, but death claimed him ere he reached his destination. He married Sally Elizabeth Newsom, who at the time of their marriage was a resident of Mississippi. She died in 1890 near Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, where several of her brothers and some of her own children were living. She was the mother of fifteen children, and five of her sons still survive. One daughter lived to be grown, but has since passed away. The sons are: Thaddeus, Lafayette, Samuel Edwin Johnson and Robert Sterling Lee, twins. Of this number, Thad, Lee and Edwin are residents of Arkansas and the others of Texas.

William Barnett Crockett was born in what was then Green county, but is now Craighead county, Arkansas, January 29, 1855, and when a year old was taken to Mississippi, where he was reared to manhood. His early education was obtained in the country schools, but his opportunities for intellectual development were somewhat limited prior to his twentieth year. He then asked his time of his father, saying that if he could obtain it he would educate himself. The first year he earned some money and then with what he had saved paid his expenses while attending a country school for three or four months. Later he worked as a farm hand in the vicinity of his old home, and as soon as he saved money matriculated as a student in a Methodist school in Montezuma, Tennessee, where he spent one term. He then obtained a license to teach and entered upon the active work of the profession, which he followed for a term or two and in this way earned the funds that enabled him to continue his own education in the Arkansas Industrial University at Fayetteville. He had spent five or six months in that institution when he became ill and was forced to return home. Later he again engaged in teaching and pursued a course of study in T. A. Leddin‘s business college at Memphis, Mississippi. He did not quite complete the course there but later at Iuka, Mississippi, finished a course and received his diploma. This was a normal school and he took the normal course in teaching in addition to completing his course in bookkeeping. Subsequently he had charge of the village school at Haynes, Arkansas, for three years an during the summer he attended the National Normal University of Lebanon, Ohio, where he pursued a scientific course. Before entering that school he had done special work in rhetoric, letter writing, drawing, penmanship, debating, phonics and diacritics. His object in pursuing the course at Lebanon was to prepare himself for the teacher’s profession, but a death in the family interfered [sic] with his plans and he returned south.

About that time Judge Crockett entered the law office of Judge R. S. Stith of Holly Springs, Mississippi, and was admitted to the bar in September, 1888, at that place. He practiced with his preceptor for about a year and was then appointed deputy clerk of the chancery court of Marshall county, Mississippi, retaining the position until the first of January, 1892, when he resigned to come to Texas on account of his health, arriving on the 29th of April, 1892, in Mitchell county, where he has since remained the active practice of law. He was elected county attorney soon after coming here and held the position for four years. Later he was chosen county judge and has served upon the bench for five years. He is also ex-officio county superintendent of schools in Mitchell county by reason of his judgeship. His practice is now confined to the district and higher courts of the state. He has a keen analytical mind, is logical in his deductions, strong in his reasoning and seldom, if ever, at fault in the matter of the application of a legal principle to appoint at issue and his course on the bench is in harmony with his record as a man and lawyer, being distinguished by unswerving fidelity and a masterful grasp of every problem that is presented for solution.

In 1882 Judge Crockett was married to Miss Penelope Branch, who resided near Holly Springs, Mississippi. They have no children of their own but are rearing and educating a nephew and niece of Mr. Crockett and the children of his brother Edwin, namely: Winnie Davis and W. B. Crockett, Jr. Judge Crockett has been a member of the Methodist church since 1876, and is ever an advocate of reform, improvement and progress. He holds membership relation with the Knights and Ladies of Honor, the Independence Order of Odd Fellows, in both the subordinate encampment and Rebekah lodges and with the Grand Fraternity. The salient elements of his character were early manifest in his determination to educate himself and to-day he is a well informed man with broad literary and general knowledge, as well as thorough understanding of the principles of jurisprudence. He has risen steadily in the ranks of his profession from the initial step in his career to the present time and has most efficiently conducted the school affairs of Mitchell county, making a close study of the needs and requirements of the public school system and laboring for the uplifting of the standard of public education. He is well versed in the law and his decisions as county judge have met with general approval not only from his professional brethren in Mitchell county, but in the higher courts of the state as well.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 405-406.