Jacob H. Shepperd

by: Kameron Searle

   Texas Revolutionary soldier Jacob H. Shepperd was born and raised in Surry County, North Carolina.  He was the son of W. W. Shepperd and Mary Steptoe Shepperd.  Before coming to Texas, Jacob Shepperd was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1829 at the age of 16 years and 4 months. Jacob Shepperd resigned from West Point shortly before he and his family came to Texas.  For more information about W. W. Shepperd, see article on the W. W. Shepperd Family.

Autograph of Jacob H. Shepperd

Autograph of J. H. Shepperd

   Though he  did not graduate from West Point, Jacob Shepperd's military activities in Texas would be extensive.  Jacob Shepperd arrived in Texas in 1831.  He made his first campaign in June 1832 as Lieutenant in Captain Abner Kuykendall's 2nd Company when the colonists rose to rescue William Barrett Travis and his companions who were being held prisoner by the Mexican government official, Colonel Juan Bradburn, at Anahuac.  Jacob Shepperd's future brother-in-law, C. B. Stewart, took part in the campaign as well.

   While still a resident of the Lake Creek Settlement which would later become the town of Montgomery, Jacob H. Shepperd began his service in the Texas Revolution.  He turned out with the first volunteers in the Campaign of 1835 and joined the army under General Stephen F. Austin while encamped on Salado Creek east of San Antonio.  He was 1st Lieutenant in Captain Joseph L. Bennett's company. 

Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas

Photo by K. K. Searle

Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas where The Battle of Concepcion was fought during the Texas Revolution

   On October 28, 1835, in the opening battle of the Siege of Bexar, Jacob Shepperd fought with Jim Bowie and James Fannin at the Battle of Concepcion.  In his History of Texas, From 1685 to 1892, Volume 1, page 371, early Texas historian John Henry Brown wrote that Shepperd fought next to famed Texian scout Henry W. Karnes during the Battle of Concepcion and that Shepperd was injured when Karnes' powder horn exploded.

Jacob Shepperd Fought Next to Henry Karnes During Siege of Bexar

   A few weeks after the Battle of Concepcion, Bennett's company was disbanded.  Jacob Shepperd joined Captain Robert M. Coleman's company and was chosen 2nd Lieutenant.  On November 26, 1835, Jacob H. Shepperd fought along with Jim Bowie in "The Grass Fight."

   Jacob Shepperd fought the Mexicans in the Siege of Bexar from December 5, 1835 through to the capture of San Antonio on December 10, 1835.  Jacob Shepperd's Texas Army discharge signed by General Burleson

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

   Jacob Shepperd received an honorable discharge from General Edward Burleson on December 13, 1835 which reads: "San Antonio, December 13, 1835  This is to certify that Jacob H. Shepperd has served in the army of Texas since the 4th of Oct. and has honorably and faithfully discharged his Duty as 2 Lieut. of the Mina Volunteers.  R.M. Coleman, Capt.; Edward Burleson, Com in Chief."  For source of this document, see Texas State Library and Archives, Jacob H. Shepperd, Republic Claim # 1755, Type AU, Reel #95, Frame 239.

Coushatta Indians

   Following the Siege of Bexar, Jacob Shepperd was with General Sam Houston at Groce's Plantation in April 1836. Sam Houston believed that the Coushatta Indians would send a number of warriors to fight with the Texas army.  In 1855, Henderson Yoakum, in volume 2 of his History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 wrote the following on page 132, "With a view to anticipate any intercourse between the enemy and these Indians, Houston had engaged Messrs. Hubert and Rankin, Indian agents to sound out the Cooshatties on the question of giving the Texans aid.  They promised to furnish 90 warriors.  Just before the army set out for Harrisburg, the commander-in-chief sent Captain Jacob H. Shepperd with a "talk" to the Indians, and an order to the agents to bring on the warriors.  It is sufficient to say here that the Indians wished to see which side was successful before they turned out."

   Henderson Yoakum also included an interesting footnote regarding Shepperd and Houston's meeting at Groce's Plantation on page 132:

"Captain Sheppard says: "Just as I was leaving the general's quarters, I said, 'where will I find you, general?  He [Houston] said: 'Tell all the people that you may see, captain, that I am determined to fight, the first chance; and if I should meet with a reverse, I will be sure to make noise enough for you and the Indians to follow me.'

Jacob H. Shepperd Saves Santa Anna

Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana

Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana

   Shepperd's "talk" with the Coushatta Indians was not the end of Jacob Shepperd's service to Sam Houston and the Republic of Texas.  He personally delivered the message that saved the life of Santa Anna in 1836 at a critical moment following Texas independence.  Henderson Yoakum on pages 194-196 of volume 2 of his History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 relates the following:

"It is proper to state here a movement in the army, consequent upon the attempt by Pages to rescue Santa Anna.  It was the wish of many, and was generally reported, that by a vote of that body, it was resolved to conduct the captive to headquarters, and place him before a court-martial.  General Houston, then at Aies Bayou, being informed of these alleged proceedings, dispatched his protest against them.  He [Houston] protested against it, because of all the advantages accruing to Texas by his [Santa Anna's] capture would thus be destroyed.  The protest reaching the army, was sent to Columbia.  A captain with his command had, just before its arrival, gone, as was said, after the prisoner, to bring him to the army; and the protest only reached Captain Patton, who had the captive in charge, in time to prevent his removal.  Captain J. H. Sheppard, the bearer of the document, says the pleasant change of affairs filled Santa Anna with joy, and he embraced him as one who had saved his life."

   This is probably the only record that will ever be found of Santa Anna "embracing" a Texas soldier.  In a letter Jacob H. Shepperd wrote Jesse Grimes in July 1856, Shepperd wrote, "I bore the express from General Houston countermanding the taking of Santa Anna to the army to be tried for the slaughter of Fannin's men: which latter service saved Texas from the accusations that would have been heaped on her for his death."  Because of this service, Shepperd further stated in his letter to Grimes that he felt himself "entitled to the largest bounty of land allowed anyone for his services in the campaign of 1835."

   It appears that Jacob H. Shepperd wrote "Lesson 32: A Night with Santa Ana in A.D. 1836, Sam Houston, etc." for The New Texas School Reader published in Houston, Texas in 1864. In Lesson 32, Shepperd provides more of the details surrounding this event including a description of Santa Ana.  In Lesson 32, Shepperd also changes his story somewhat by stating that he avoided Santa Ana's embrace.

"...and in the exuberance of his [Santa Ana's] overjoyed soul, the "arbiter of a nation's destinies" would have clasped to his blood-surcharged bosom the humble instrument of his salvation [Shepperd] !--if the latter had not counteracted the good intention by a dexterous "flank movement."

   As shown in the advertisement below, Shepperd lost the Treasury Draft which he had received in payment for his services rendered as courier.

Jacob H. Shepperd Lost Treaury Draft

Telegraph and Texas Register Published in Houston on February 10, 1837

Other Military Service

   Jacob Shepperd also served in the Cherokee War of 1839.  Again, when Mexico invaded Texas, Shepperd served in the Campaign of 1842 in San Antonio.  He served in the Somervell Expedition but did not go to the Rio Grande.  In the 1872 Texas Almanac, Jacob H. Shepperd wrote an Account of Some of the Survivors of the Texas Revolution.    

 Shepperd's Valley Texas

   On February 1, 1838, Jacob H. Shepperd received a First Class Headright for one league and one labor of land from the Republic of Texas in Montgomery County.  Jacob H. Shepperd's league, though originally located in Montgomery County, became part of Walker County when that county was created from Montgomery County in 1846.   Shepperd lived on his league.

   Like his father, W. W. Shepperd, who founded the town of Montgomery, Texas, Jacob H. Shepperd founded the town of Shepperd's Valley, Texas (sometimes spelled Shepherd's Valley). Shepperd's Valley was located about seven and a half miles south-east of Huntsville.

Shepperd's Valley

Shepperd's Valley Advertisement

   In advertisements placed in the January 22, 1853 thru March 19, 1853 editions of the Huntsville Item newspaper, Jacob Shepperd offered land for sale in Shepperd's Valley.

Shepherd's Valley

Dedication, Page 4, History of Texas, Vol. I, 1854, by Henderson Yoakum

   Texas historian, Henderson King Yoakum, was very familiar with Jacob H. Shepperd.  Yoakum wrote his two volume History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846 in Shepperd's Valley in 1854.  Yoakum County, Texas which was established in 1876 was named in honor of Texas historian, Henderson King Yoakum.  According to the Texas State Historical marker for Yoakum County erected in 1965, Yoakum County is the only Texas county named for an author.

   Jacob Shepperd had something very unusual in common with Henderson Yoakum.  They had both attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Henderson Yoakum was admitted to West Point on July 1, 1828 and graduated from West Point in 1832.  Jacob Shepperd was admitted to West Point a year later on July 1, 1829, but resigned before coming to Texas.  Not only did they both attend West Point, but they were there at the same time.  The odds of two former West Point cadets living on the same league of land in 1850's Texas is really rather extraordinary.

Hannah Eliza Collard

   Jacob Shepperd had married Hannah Eliza Collard in about 1837.  Hannah Eliza Collard was the daughter of Elijah Collard and Mary Stark. Hannah Eliza Collard's father, Elijah Collard, had served as a delegate to the Consultation of 1835 in San Felipe.  He also served as a member of the General Council of the Provisional Goverment of Texas.

Signature of Elijah Collard

Signature of Elijah Collard - Father of Hannah Eliza Collard

Elijah Collard Had Served as a Member of the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas

Later, He Served as the President of the Montgomery County Board of Land Commissioners during the Republic of Texas

   Jacob H. Shepperd and Hannah Eliza Collard had the following children: Mary A. Shepperd, Augustine W. Shepperd, Eliza Pamelia Shepperd and Julia Shepperd.  According to Valma Dorrell Fischer in her family history, Shepperd and Palmer, 1985, Jacob H. Shepperd died on April 16, 1872 and is buried near Black Jack Cemetery in Walker County, Texas.  Though his name can be found spelled Sheppard, Shepard and Shepherd, Jacob H. Shepperd always spelled his name SHEPPERD in all legal documents.  He died without a will.  His son, Augustine W. Shepperd, was appointed administrator of Jacob H. Shepperd's estate in 1872.

Cattle Brands

   Jacob Shepperd's wife, Hannah Eliza Collard, registered her cattle brand in Montgomery County on March 7, 1838.  Her brand was the capital letter E formed from a capital letter C

Jacob H. Shepperd's Brand X, Walker County Texas, 1850

Walker County Cattle Brand Book, Vol. 1, Page 33, Walker County Clerk's Office

   On June 1, 1850 in Walker County, Jacob H. Shepperd registered his cattle brand which was the letter X.  Shepperd's neighbor, Henderson Yoakum, registered the brand Y.  Seven years later, another neighbor of Jacob Shepperd, Sam Houston, registered Jacob Shepperd's brand X as his own on November 20, 1857.