Who the Heck Was . . . J. Y. Hogsett?

Jonathan Young Hogsett was born in 1843 on the Clinch River in Anderson County, Tennessee. His father was a farmer.

According to a biographical sketch in the 1877 Fort Worth city directory, “Hogsett worked on his father’s farm during the summer months and attended school in the winter. Being near the county seat where the circuit court for that county was held, Mr. Hogsett would frequently give his father a good deal of trouble by stealing off to the Court House while the court was in session, in the proceedings of which he took great interest, thus manifesting at a very early age his desire to become a lawyer.”

About 1859 Hogsett, like so many others, migrated to Texas. In 1860 he was teaching school in Johnson County.

When the Civil War began Hogsett, then eighteen, enlisted in the Confederate army in San Antonio.

He served in Company K of the 5th Texas Volunteer Cavalry Regiment of Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley’s brigade.

At the Battle of Valverde in New Mexico Hogsett was twice cursed. First he was wounded in battle and then contracted smallpox while recuperating. When Sibley’s brigade retreated from Santa Fe, Hogsett was left behind in a hospital.

When Union troops took possession of Santa Fe he was taken prisoner.

Hogsett was released in a prisoner exchange in 1863. Having no horse, he walked from Santa Fe to San Antonio, a distance of over one thousand miles.

The city directory writes: “Along the whole of that distance there are scarcely any settlements, and water was very scarce, rendering it a journey that well men, supplied with horses, ambulances, provisions etc., hesitate before commencing, and it can be very easily imagined what a man, just recovered from a protracted illness, must have suffered on such a journey.”

A thousand miles on foot! Think of that. Let’s say he walked at four miles an hour for ten hours a day. That’s twenty-five days.

After reaching Texas Hogsett rejoined his company and saw action in Louisiana until the end of the war: He was wounded at the second Battle of Donaldsonville and at the Battle of Yellow Bayou. He also fought in the battles of Teche Bayou, Mansfield, and Pleasant Hill. The map shows the Battle of Valverde in New Mexico and the Battle of Yellow Bayou in Louisiana. (Map from Wikipedia.)

After the war Hogsett returned to Texas and again taught school for a year. He then returned to Tennessee, where he at last took up his first love: law.

The 1877 city directory writes: “Whilst Mr. Hogsett was studying law, he often worked hard all day on the farm and read [law] until midnight.”

In 1869 Hogsett was admitted to the bar.

That year he also married Anna Long of Roane County, Tennessee. (Photo from Donna Humphrey Donnell.)

In 1872 Hogsett moved to Fort Worth, where he formed a law firm with Captain John Hanna, who also had been a teacher.

Whether by coincidence or intent, Hogsett arrived in Fort Worth just as the city’s future suddenly looked bright: The Texas & Pacific railroad was laying track toward Fort Worth from Longview. Fort Worth, after years of stagnation, was about to boom. Civic leaders began to talk about incorporating the town. A formal city government—with the power to levy taxes and enforce ordinances—would be needed to oversee Fort Worth’s growth as a railroad town.

In January 1873 civic leaders drafted a bill asking the state legislature to allow Fort Worth to incorporate. Major Khleber Miller Van Zandt, representing Fort Worth in the Texas legislature, piloted the bill to passage.

On February 17, 1873 the legislature passed “an act to incorporate the city of Fort Worth” effective March 1. Justice Jesse Jones announced that the new city’s first officials would be elected on April 3. Election judges would be John Peter Smith and Julian Feild.

This is an excerpt of a synopsis of the city charter printed in the Democrat. The charter was written by Jonathan Young Hogsett.

Among the first officials of Fort Worth were William Paxton Burts, Ed Terrell, Frank W. Ball, Martin Bottom Loyd, W. J. Boaz, and Gus Rintleman.

In 1884 Hogsett got crossways with fellow attorney Will McLaury. McLaury was the brother of Tom and Frank McLaury, who were killed in 1881 at the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. At the inquest Will McLaury aided the prosecution in questioning Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. They were exonerated.

After Tarrant County’s deed files were destroyed in the courthouse fire of 1876, Hogsett and Hanna lent their firm’s copies to the county to reconstruct the files.

In 1901-1903 Hogsett represented Tarrant County in the Texas House of Representatives. (Photo from Legislative Reference Library.)

Hogsett in 1906. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library Star-Telegram Collection.)

Jonathan Young Hogsett died in 1909.

He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

You will see the “Hogsett” name in at least two other places around town.

The Trinity Trails trailhead on North Side Drive is dedicated to the memory of J. Y.’s son Joseph Bratcher Hogsett, who served forty-one years on the board of Tarrant County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1. The plaque was donated by Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Gordon Jr. Mr. Gordon was the son of William Knox Gordon Sr., who made the oil discovery at Ranger in 1917. Mrs. Gordon was Anna Melissa Hogsett Gordon, Joseph’s daughter and J. Y.’s granddaughter. Joseph was married to Marguerite Cantey, daughter of Sam Cantey.

And this plaque is on the east side of the horse fountain on the courthouse square. The fountain is a replica of a fountain erected in 1892 by the Women’s Humane Society.

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2 Responses to Who the Heck Was . . . J. Y. Hogsett?

  1. Keith Petty says:

    Great article, Mike! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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