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Thomas Barnett, Pioneer Texan

Thomas Barnett house as it appeared in 1962.

Thomas Barnett, pioneer Texan, was born in Logan County, Ky., on Jan. 18, 1798. By 1821, he had moved to Livingston County, Ky. He was sheriff there for two years. In 1823, Barnett moved to Texas and received his land title on July 10, 1824. His league of land lay on the east side of the Brazos River in southeastern Fort Bend County near Duke on Clear Lake, or what is now the east end of Sienna Plantation. A year later, he married Nancy Spencer, whose husband, William, was killed by Indians. Together, Thomas and Nancy Barnett had six children.

He became very active in the political affairs of Austin’s Colony and was elected comisario and alcalde in the ayuntamiento, or town council, of San Felipe de Austin. A comisario was an office something like a sheriff/tax collector, while an alcalde was similar to a mayor. Barnett was a member of the Consultation in 1835, a meeting of delegates from across Texas to prepare for war with Mexico and create a new government for Texas. He was also a member of the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Sam Houston appointed Barnett chief justice of Austin County in late 1836. Barnett served in the Congress of the Republic from 1838-1840.

After his terms in the Congress of the Republic, he returned to his home on his wife’s league, west of Richmond. He died there on Sept. 20, 1843, survived by his wife and children. A daughter Mary married William Styles Jones, son of Henry Jones, another Old 300 member. A younger daughter Sarah married Foster Dyer. Daughter Lottie married John M. Moore Sr. Thomas and Nancy Barnett also had sons William, John and James Jr. Nancy Spencer Barnett married again, this time to Thomas Grey. Nancy died before 1863. Both Nancy and Thomas Barnett are buried in the Barnett-Dyer cemetery on their former property, just west of Rosenberg.

Certificate appointing Thomas Barnett Chief Justice of Austin County; signed by Republic of Texas President Sam Houston.

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