Top State Leaders from South Texas*
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
May 15, 2007

For some time I had myself convinced that this great county, home of the "Cradle of Texas Liberty", the Alamo and South Texas in general, had taken a back seat to top statewide leadership in our State. While I believe we have surely underplayed our hand in Bexar County and in South Texas, we have been represented over time. At the Top State level however, one has to go back to 1913 to find a top leader when Speaker of the Texas House, Chester Terrill of Bexar County was elected by his fellow House members.

There are many positions of leadership that permit the office holder to make a serious positive impact. And, there are groups of state officials that leave their imprint on South Texas without being elected to high state office. With this in mind, this work focuses on the election of only the top three State elective offices. Pre-statehood and Republic era Top State Leaders from South Texas are left for another paper. Although technically Houston is mostly south of I-10 East, many believe Houston is a place all unto itself and not particularly South or East Texas. For the purposes of this list however, Houston is counted as being part of South Texas.

Governor (48-5)

  • John Ireland (Seguin) - 1883-87
  • William Pettus Hobby (Houston) - 1917-21
  • John Connally (Floresville) - 1963-69
  • Dolph Briscoe (Uvalde) - 1973-1979
  • Mark White (Houston) - 1983-1987

Lieutenant Governor (39-11)

  • Albert Clinton Horton (Caney Creek, Wharton County) - 1846-47
  • James Wilson Henderson (Houston) - 1851-53
  • Frances Richard Lubbock (Houston) - 1857-59
  • Fletcher S. Stockdale (Indianola) - 1863-65
  • Asbury Bascom Davidson (Cuero) - 1907-13
  • William P. Hobby (Beaumont) - 1915-17
  • Lynch Davidson (Houston) - 1921-23
  • Walter Frank Woodul (Houston) - 1935-39
  • Allan Shivers (Port Arthur) - 1947-49
  • Bill Hobby (Houston) - 1973-82
  • David Dewhurst (Houston) - 2003-07

Speaker of the House (66-4)

  • Hamilton P. Bee (Laredo) - 1855
  • Robert L. Bobbitt (Laredo) - 1927
  • Chester Terrill (San Antonio) - 1913
  • Durward Manford (Gonzales) - 1949

The lone "Top Elected Official" from Bexar County, Chester Terrill, was elected to the 31st Texas Legislature at the age of 26. Four years later, he became the youngest man to win election as the Speaker of the House at age 30. Later Ben Barnes was elected Speaker at 25. Overall, Terrill spent three consecutive terms in the Legislature. He was an integral part of the leadership that devised a way for the Texas House to call itself into a special session to impeach Governor Jim Ferguson. The impeachment was accomplished and Will Hobby, former Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby's father became Governor.

Governor Dolph Briscoe from Uvalde but who frequently resides in San Antonio, is the great, great nephew of Andrew Briscoe, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence (signed: "A. Briscoe") and first Chief Justice now called the County Judge, of Harris County. Governor Briscoe significantly built-up the Farm to Market Road system, successfully held to his promise of "No new taxes" and signed our State's first "Open Meetings" act into law.

I write this to inform you about our history, but of greater importance, to invite you to do what you can to magnify our voice as an area in Texas State Government!

* Taken from "Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature (1846-1982)", Texas Legislative Council.

** Signifies number of officeholders relative to South Texas being represented in that office.

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