W. W. Shepperd
Founder of the Town of Montgomery, Texas
by: Kameron Searle
Shepperd, W. W. William Watters Shepperd
(W. W. Shepperd) was born in North Carolina. The son of Jacob
Shepperd and Pamela Pines Shepperd, W. W. Shepperd lived for many
years in Surry County, North Carolina. When his father died
in 1807, W. W. Shepperd was named as an executor of Jacob
Shepperd's will. Other children named in Jacob Shepperd's
will were Augustine Henry Shepperd, Wesley Shepperd, Elizabeth
Shepperd, Martha Shepperd, Ann Pines Shepperd and Charity
[Add W. W. Shepperd's Autograph from the
Appraisal of Owen Shannon's Estate Here]
W. W. Shepperd's brother, Augustine Henry Shepperd, was a lawyer and a United
States Congressman from North Carolina for two decades. It is
interesting to note that Augustine Henry Shepperd's daughter, Mary
Francis Shepperd, was married to famed Confederate Major General William Dorsey Pender.
Autograph of A. H.
Shepperd, Salem N.C., from a Registry Book of 31st U.S.
Collection of K.K.
W. W. Shepperd married Mary Steptoe Shepperd.
Little is known about Mary before her marriage to William, But many
legal documents and deeds in the Montgomery County courthouse
indicate the name Mary Steptoe Shepperd. Her maiden name may
have been Steptoe. In her family history, Shepperd and
Palmer, 1985, Valma Dorrell Fischer gives the name Mary L.
Steptoe as her maiden name. W. W. Shepperd and Mary Steptoe
Shepperd had at least eight children. There Children were
William W. Shepperd, Sidney Shepperd, Augustine C. Shepperd, Jacob
H. Shepperd, Parmelia Shepperd, Julia Shepperd, Wesley A. Shepperd,
and Henry Shepperd. For more information about Jacob H.
Shepperd, see article on the Jacob H. Shepperd Family.
The Shepperds moved to Texas in 1831. W. W.
Shepperd received a Mexican land grant in Austin's Second Colony on
April 16, 1831 for one league of land (4,428.4 acres).
Shepperd's Mexican land title is located in Box 9, Folder 38 in the
Texas General Land Office. The W. W. Shepperd league
straddles the boundary between present Fayette and Austin
Counties. In 1834, W. W. Shepperd sold his league to Leonard
Groce. See Volume C, Page 50 of the Deed Records of the
Fayette County, Texas. W. W. Shepperd and his cousin Jared
Groce had numerous business dealings with each other. As evidenced
by the advertisement below, Shepperd and Groce eventually had a
falling out over a business deal which involved a thousand dollar
Years later on February 15, 1838 the Montgomery
County Board of Land Commissioners issued W. W. Shepperd a first
class headright for an additional labor of land (177.1 acres) in
Though W. W. Shepperd was the
proprietor of the first store in the Lake Creek
Settlement what would later become the town of Montgomery in
July of 1837, his primary occupation was that of land
speculator. W. W. Shepperd founded the Town of
Montgomery. He purchased 200 acres that had been part of the
John Corner League for the purposes of developing the new
town. These 200 acres were located in the northwestern most
corner of the John Corner League located in Austin's Second Colony.
See Book A, Page 21 of the Deed Records Montgomery County,
Saturday, July 8, 1837, Telegaph and
Texas Register, Vol. 2, No. 25, p. 3
On Saturday, July 8, 1837, in the Telegraph and
Texas Register newspaper, W. W. Shepperd and J. W. Moody
advertised lots for sale in the "town of Montgomery."
Until July 8, 1837, the area had been known as Lake Creek or the Lake Creek Settlement and the
spot where the town was founded had been known as "the store of
William W. Shepperd on Lake Creek." This was the first time
the name of the town of Montgomery had appeared in
the Telegraph and Texas Register.
Montgomery County was created on December 14, 1837.
Montgomery County is named for the town of Montgomery. W. W.
Shepperd prepared a plat of the Town of Montgomery. The
original Plan of the Town of Montgomery, prepared by
W. W. Shepperd and dated January 1, 1838, is still in existence and
is located in the Hart Addison Collection in Conroe, Texas.
The fact that the area around Montgomery was known
as Lake Creek or the Lake Creek Settlement cannot be
disputed. Many early deeds and other records prove this
conclusively. See Washington County Deed Book A1, page 36,
where Samuel McCombs signed a bond on January 7, 1837, "at the
store of W. W. Shepperd on Lake Creek." See Washington County Deed
Book A, page 241, as another example where W.
Buchannon conveys 1/2 League of land to C. B. Stewart by a
deed signed on August 2, 1837. Harrison signed the deed at
the store of W. W. Shepperd "on Lake Creek in the Town of
Montgomery." For another example that the area had been known
as the Lake Creek Settlement, see A. M'Cown's advertisement
for the sale of lots in the Town of Montgomery on page 4 of the
July 2, 1845 issue (Volume 1, No. 10) of the Montgomery
Patriot published by John Marshal Wade in Montgomery,
Texas. "The lands surrounding Montgomery, known as the Lake
Creek Settlement, being of such a rich and fertile character, and
having a rich and industrious population, it is destined to be, in
a short time, a town of considerable importance. Montgomery
is the county site of the most flourishing, populous and
intelligent county in the Republic. It is situated on an
elevated ridge, which divides the waters of the San Jacinto River
and Lake Creek."
As seen in the advertisement above and
shortly before Montgomery County was created on December 14, 1837,
W. W. Shepperd offered "his remaining stock of Liquors, Dry
Goods, &c." for sale. This advertisement ran in
the Telegraph and Texas Register newspaper published in
Houston, Texas on December 9, 1837. On December 14, 1837,
Montgomery County was created when Republic of Texas President Sam
Houston signed the congressional act that created the county.
The Town of Montgomery was selected as the first county seat of
Montgomery County and was already serving as the county seat as
early as February of 1838.
Montgomery, Texas Becomes County
W. W. Shepperd induced the Montgomery County
Commissioners' Court to move the site of the town of Montgomery and
the county seat to a new location on March 1, 1838. This new
site was on land Shepperd had purchased from John Corner
on February 26, 1838 and was located due south of the original
site of the town of Montgomery. He induced the county Commissioners
to move the location of the town and county seat by offering to
donate a portion of land at the new site to the County.
Later residents of Montgomery would refer to the original site of
the town as the "old town under the hill" and to the new site as
"the town on the hill."
In the minutes of the first Montgomery County
Commissioners' Court meeting, "The president placed before
the board the written act of donation of W. W. Shepperd to the
County of Montgomery of an equal half undivided interest in the
Town of Montgomery and sixty acres of pine land adjoining - donated
for County purposes and it being put to question whether said
donation should be accepted it was unanimously received - and the
question being also whether the place of the Town presented by C.
B. Stewart as agent for W. W. Shepperd should be received the same
was also unanimously received and adopted."
Also see Book E, page 285 of the deed records of Montgomery County,
In April 1838, W. W. Shepperd entered an agreement
to lease or sell a house to Montgomery County. This house was
the first courthouse of Montgomery County.
There is a historical marker in front of the
community center in the town of Montgomery that was erected by the
State of Texas in 1936 for the Texas Centennial. This marker
reads in part, "TOWN OF MONTGOMERY - FOUNDED IN JULY 1837 BY W. W.
SHEPHERD." Shepperd's name is misspelled on this
marker. W. W. Shepperd always spelled his name SHEPPERD on
all documents. Shepperd later sold his interest in the town
of Montgomery to James McCown for eight thousand dollars on October
22, 1839. See Book E, page 184, Montgomery County Clerk Deed
Records. Also, the minutes of the April 1840 meeting of the
Montgomery County Commissioners Court provide, "Wm. W.
Shepperd the original proprietor of the Town of Montgomery who
donated a portion of said town to the County of Montgomery under
contract made and entered into between the said Wm. W. Shepperd and
the board of said County Commissioners bearing the date of the
[1st] day of [March] 1838 made showing that he had sold and
conveyed to James McCown his portion of said town tract together
with the house occupied as a Court house."
W. W. Shepperd and Mary Steptoe Shepperd's
daughter, Julia Shepperd married C. B. Stewart. In fact, on
March 8, 1836, Judge James Hall, the judge of the municipality of
Washington, authorized W. W. Shepperd to celebrate the contract of
marriage between Charles B. Stewart and his daughter, Julia
Shepperd. The marriage was performed by W. W. Shepperd at the
house of W. W. Shepperd on Lake Creek on March 11, 1836 while
Charles B. Stewart was still serving as a delegate to the
Convention at Washington (now Washington-on-the-Brazos). See
Volume A1, page 240-244 of the Deed Records of Washington County,
Charles Bellinger Stewart is something of a
celebrity in Montgomery County. Stewart was the first
Secretary of State of Texas. While acting as the first
Secretary to Governor Henry Smith, Stewart devised the first seal
of Texas. Using an old button with the design of a single star
upon it, Stewart would press the button into hot wax dripped
on various official documents to make the image of a lone star.
Stewart signed the Texas Declaration of Independence
from Mexico, which was approved on March 2, 1836 and signed on
March 3, 1836. Stewart also served on the committee that
drafted the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Some
historians credit C. B. Stewart with having designed the Lone Star
Flag of Texas and the Texas State Seal. C. B. Stewart and W.
W. Shepperd had extensive business dealings with each other for
1837 W. W. Shepperd Agent for
the Telegraph and Texas Register
August 12, 1837, edition of the
Telegraph and Texas Register, Vol. II, No. 30,
Whole No. 82, page 1, published by Cruger & Moore in Houston,
Texas. Just over a month after the July 8, 1837 advertisement
for the sale of lots in the town of Montgomery was first run, W. W.
Shepard [Shepperd] is listed in the masthead of the Telegraph
and Texas Register as the agent of the newspaper
Montgomery, Lake creek."
On page 31 of Montgomery County
History compiled and edited by the Montgomery County
Genealogical Society in 1981, we find the following, "Montgomery,
the first post office in the county, was established May 17, 1838
with W. W. Shepperd being appointed postmaster by the Republic of
Post Office Papers No.
On December 10, 1837, G. Brightman
received compensation from Robert Barr, the Post Master General of
the Republic of Texas, "for transporting mail from Houston to
Shepherds Store.” This
was three months after W. W. Shepperd founded the Town of
Montgomery in July 1837 and just four days before Montgomery County
was created on December 14, 1837.
RECEIPT OF G.
TO ROBERT BARR
of R. Barr Eighty
Dollars for transporting the mail from
Houston to Shepherds
Dec. 10th 1837
Recpt. G. Brightman
$80.00 Decr 10,
W. W. Shepperd's store was the location of the post
office. For more information and primary sources about W. W.
Shepperd as the first
postmaster of Montgomery, see Post Office Papers of the
Republic of Texas 1839-1840 by James M. Day, Austin, 1966, pp.
60, 71, 156, 168, 171, 181 and 217.
Sealed proposals will be received at
Houston until the 20th of December next, for carrying
the mails from the 1st January, to the
31st December, 1838; on the following routes,
No. 1. From Houston to
via Shepherds store, 100 miles;
Houston on Monday 8 A M, and arrive at New Cincinnati on
Wednesday at 8 P M.
Leave New Cincinnati on Thursday 8 A M, and arrive at Houston on
Saturday at 8 P M.
No. 14. From Shepherds to La Bahia
Crossing on the Colorado, via McGuffin’s, Fantharp’s,
Washington, Independence, Mitchell’s, 110 miles;
Shepherds on Wednesday 12 A M, and arrive at La Bahia Crossing
on Saturday 8 PM. Leave La Bahia Crossing on Sunday 8
AM, and arrive Shepherds on Tuesday 8 P
Bond and security will be required of
each contractor, and the names of persons intended to be given
will be sent with the
R. Barr, Post Master
Houston, October 25,
See Telegraph and Texas
Register, November 18, 1837. Robert Barr prepared this
notice on October 25, 1837. Even though the town of Montgomery
was founded in July of 1837, Barr is still referring to the post
office located in the Lake Creek Settlement as Shepherds
Store. When Barr makes his request for sealed proposals for
1838, he will refer to the post office as Montgomery.
In 1838, James W. Parker sued W. W. Shepperd for
libel and slander. Shepperd accused Parker of being a horse thief
and a counterfeiter, and that the attack on Fort
Parker was precipitated by James W. Parker' s misdealing with
the Indians. It was thought that Parker had paid the
Comanches for stolen horses with counterfeit money. The
attack on Fort Parker occurred shortly after the Indians learned
that they had been duped. James W. Parker was the father of
Rachel Parker and the uncle of Cynthia Ann Parker who were
kidnapped by the Comanche Indians in the raid on Fort Parker in
1836. Parker sued Shepperd for $10,000 in a suit
originally filed as Case #25 in the Montgomery
County District Court. Fearing reprisals from
vigilantes, James W. Parker moved to Houston shortly after filing
his suit. In 1839, James Parker published a booklet in
Houston at his own expense in an effort to clear his name.
James W. Parker was able to have the venue of the
case changed from Montgomery County to Harris
County. There is no record of this case ever
having gone to trial in Harris County. The May 18th, 1842
Minutes of the Harris County District Court state that the case was
"..Referred to Arbitration and leave was granted to Plaintiff
to withdraw the papers" In fact, the Court awarded court
costs in the amount of $94.53 to the Defendant, W. W.
Shepperd. As late as 1845, court records filed by the Harris
County Sherriff reflect that Shepperd was still unable to recover
these court costs from Parker. See Montgomery County District
Court records, James W. Parker vs. William W. Shepperd,
case No. 25, Montgomery County District Court Minutes, 1839-1841,
James W. Parker vs. William W. Shepperd, Harris
County District Court Case #863, 1840, Defence of James W. Parker, Against
Slanderous Accusations, Houston, 1839 and
Frontier Blood - The Saga of the Parker Family by Jo Ella
W. W. Shepperd registered his cattle mark on
February 12, 1838. See Montgomery County Brand Book, page 66,
No. 3, located in the Montgomery County Clerk's office.
Shepperd only registered the ear mark for his cattle. He did
not register a brand. See Montgomery County Texas Cattle
Brands 1838-1902, Published in 1992 by Montgomery County
Genealogical and Historical Society.
Click here to read the excellent research by
Karen "Candy" Lawless regarding the Shepperds' land holdings around
the Shepard Hill Cemetery (Old Danville Cemetery) near
Willis in Montgomery County, Texas. Also see her
article "The Old Danville Cemetery on Shepard Hill Road." For more
on the history of Danville, Texas, by Karen "Candy" Lawless, see
"Journey to Danville."
W. W. Shepperd executed his will in
1848. Montgomery County Probate records indicate that W.
W. Shepperd died in 1849 and he does not appear in the 1850
Montgomery County, Texas Census. In 1852, the Montgomery
County Court appointed C. B. Stewart the administrator of W. W.
Shepperd's estate. See the Huntsville Item, January 8, 1853,
Volume III, No. 21. It appears that the probate of Shepperd's
estate was not formally concluded until 1857. See Montgomery
County, Texas probate records, "Black Box" documents, packet #
To read more about W. W. Shepperd, see Wm. Harley
Gandy's thesis A History of Montgomery County, Texas,
1952 which thoroughly explores W. W. Shepperd's role as
founder of the town of Montgomery. Special thanks to Mr. Gandy for
his personal assistance and all of the information provided.
I could not have written this article without his help. Also
see pages 52-67 Early Settlers of Montgomery County,
1987, Montgomery County Genealogical & Historical Society.