SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2003, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved

 

HENRY B. KING - TEXAS RANGER 1818-1868

by Willam G. Kishbaugh, Winkelman, AZ 2002

Henry Basil King was born December 12, 1818 in Stewart County, Tennessee, a son of William King and Rachel Petty. He was living at Dover, Stewart County, Tennessee, when the Republic of Texas won their independence from Mexico, at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. At Paris, Tennessee in 1837, Henry and his older brother John Rhodes King joined a group of young men who were immigrating to the newly formed Republic of Texas. The group carried their possessions on their backs as they walked toward Texas. They crossed the Sabine River into Texas on September 13, 1837. At St. Augustine, the Texas bound group met the George Washington Nichols and Johnson Day families, who were traveling to Texas from Arkansas. For mutual convenience and protection the three groups made an agreement to travel together. They arrived at Gonzales Texas on October 6, 1837.

On March 8, 1838, about five months after their arrival in Gonzales, Henry B. King and Mahala J. Day were married by Texas Chief Justice B.D. McClure at Peach Creek. The famous "Sam Houston Oak" tree still stands nearby. That spring Henry B. King and his brother John R. King became members of Captain Mathew Caldwell's company of Gonzales Rangers providing frontier protection against the raiding Indians. Later that year, the two King brothers joined with a group of friends and fellow Rangers to form a corporation and establish the town of Walnut Springs. Lots were cast and Henry B. King drew Lot #30, thereby becoming one of it's first citizens. Soon after this, it was discovered that the name Walnut Springs already existed in Texas. At a shareholders meeting held on February 25 1839 and after a motion made by James Campbell and John R. King, the name of Seguin was agreed upon. In the fall season of 1841 the King brothers step-father John James Anderson McNary Boyd and their mother Rachel [Petty] King Boyd arrived in Seguin from Tennessee along with the two Boyd girls and William George King who was a younger brother to Henry and John.

During the next decade or so, Henry's unmarried brothers became well known in Guadalupe County political circles and within the Ranger service. Henry B. King, apparently engaged in providing for a growing family, did not follow the same paths as his two (as yet) unwed brothers, and he was to die at an earlier age. These two facts probably account for his lack of recognition in many of the later historical writings about Seguin and Guadalupe County. Henry did however continue serving as a Ranger in the protection of the Texas frontier. He served with Captain J.H. Callahan's company of Minute Men from Gonzales, as well as with other Ranger units. Some of the more notable campaigns Henry found himself engaged in were the 1842 Battle of Salado Creek and the Callahan Expedition in 1855. He most likely rode with the Texas Rangers that supported U.S. General Zachary Taylor during his invasion of Mexico in 1845, because his brother John R. King recorded riding with Captain McCulloch's company of "Spies" during the Mexican War. Henry also served as an officer in Callahan's 1855 punitive expedition into Mexico . He was wounded in the shoulder during that campaign when the Mexican Army cut them off and they had to fight their way back across the Rio Grande River into Texas.

Ranger Captain James H.Callahan, the leader of the expedition, having married Sarah M. Day, was Henry King's brother-in-law.  Both Captain Callahan and his wife Sarah are buried with honors at the Texas State Cemetery in the capitol city of Austin, Texas.  In 1856 Henry B. King's wife Mahala, died in Seguin, leaving him with six small children to care for. Being an old Ranger, accustomed to spending long hours in the saddle and camping out with the Rangers in their temporary encampments, he probably was not very adaptable to such a domestic role. After Mahala's death, Henry left some of his little ones in the care of relatives and took his older boys with him to start a new life in that wild and unsettled cattle country of DeWitt County.  His youngest daughter, Catherine M. "Kitty" King, was my grandmother. She was taken in as a child and raised by William G. King and his wife "Euphemia Texas Davis [Ashby] King". This home, with a Texas flag flying next to a historical site monument, still stands on Court Street in Seguin. It lies along the route of the "True Women Tour" which is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce there.

Another incident that may have played a role in Henry leaving for the wild lands of DeWitt County was the shooting of his brother-in-law, James Hughes Callahan in Blanco County, in April of that year. A group of Captain Callahan's close friends (which may have, and in my opinion, probably did include his brother-in-law, Henry B. King ) sought revenge for his death. The two persons accused of Callahan's shooting were being held in a log cabin belonging to a local JP. The armed group of men boldly rode up to the cabin and dragged the two alleged shooters into the yard, where they were summarily shot dead. No one in the armed group was ever prosecuted and convicted.

At the outbreak of the Civil War forty-three year old Henry B. King enlisted in Company "A" Fourth Texas Infantry Regiment at Camp Clark Texas on July 11, 1861. His eighteen year old son "James William King" enlisted in Co. D of the Fourth Texas Infantry Regiment. The 4th Texas Infantry recruits then marched from through south Texas and through the swamplands of southern Louisiana to finally be boarded on railcars and taken north to Richmond, Virginia. Many of their casualties were suffered through disease contacted along the way. In Virginia they defended the Confederate capitol against the invading Union Army. On Christmas Day 1861 during the Union Army's "Peninsula Campaign" Henry was assigned to commissary duties. This may have been due to his old wound acting up or it may have been due to the experience he had gained as a Texas Ranger where providing and preparing food for troops in the field was commonplace. At any rate, Henry soon became incapacitated from the old shoulder wound he had received in Mexico, and he was declared unable to perform the duties required of a soldier. On July 25th 1862 he was released to return home to Texas. His son James W. King had been stricken by Typhoid Fever and was admitted to St. Petersburg General Hospital on June 25,1862. He died there on August 11,1862. After Henry returned home to Texas, he continued to serve the Confederate cause in spite of his disability. In San Antonio he was elected Capt. of Co. E, Hardeman's Regiment of Texas Cavalry on Nov.24, 1862. He applied for leave on April 21,1865 while in camp near Houston. His younger son, 18 year old John Milford King, enlisted in that same regiment on November 24,1862, the same day as his father. He was paroled at San Antonio,TX on August 29, 1865.

Henry's brother John R. King served during the war as Major of Commissary in Henry E. McCulloch's regular 1st Mounted Texas Rifles, which was the first regiment in the state organized for Confederate service. Younger brother William G. King was the Brigade Quartermaster under General H.E. McCulloch. All three King brothers survived the war, but Henry B. King died in DeWitt County on December 5, 1868 at the age of 49 yrs. Henry B. King had ridden the campaign trail with such men as James Campbell, William Clinton, Mathew "Old Paint" Caldwell, James Milford Day, Henry and Ben McCulloch, T.M. Minter, Ezekial Smith, French Smith, William Smith, John Sowell, Andrew Sowell, Asa Sowell, Robert Hall, James Nichols and many other veterans of the early Texas ranger service. And like so many of the other early day Texas Rangers and Indian Fighters, the exact cause of his death and the exact location of his grave remains a mystery, for most of them left no written records.

References

1. The King Family records
2. "Rags and Hope" by Mary Lasswell 1961. The Memoirs Of Val C. Giles---Four Years with Hood's Brigade, Fourth Texas Infantry, 1861-1865
3. "Now You Hear My Horn" by Catherine W. McDowell 1967. The Journal of James Wilson Nichols 1820-1887
4. Official Confederate Military Records/NARA
5. Book of Marriages- Gonzales County TX Archives
6. The Handbook Of Texas OnLine & Misc. historical accounts of early day Texas.

[Obtained from and reprinted with permission of the author, William G. Kishbaugh]


SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
1997-2003, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved