Best known as the author of the first "History of Texas," Henderson Yoakum was an accomplished soldier, attorney, and politician. Born in 1810 in Claiborne County, Tennessee, Yoakum graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He resigned his commission as lieutenant in 1833 to practice law in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he was later elected mayor. He then returned to military service, taking up arms in 1836 as a captain of the mounted militia near the Sabine River, and as a colonel in the Tennessee infantry during the Cherokee War in 1838. The following year, he won a post in the Tennessee Senate, where he served until 1845. During his time in the legislature, he supported the annexation of Texas.
A close friend of General Sam Houston's, Yoakum migrated to Texas in 1845 and settled about three miles outside Huntsville. He built a home on Four Notch Road at its intersection with U.S. Highway 190, and helped secure the county seat for Huntsville in 1846. After joining the military once more to serve in the Mexican War, Yoakum returned to Huntsville and played a vital role in every facet of community life.
In 1849, he wrote the charter for Austin College and then served as the school's first librarian. He also taught law there and sat on the board of trustees. In addition, Yoakum helped to found Andrew Female College and acted as director of the Texas state penitentiary in 1849. His service led to his appointment as the Worshipful Father of the Forrest Masonic Lodge No. 19 in 1850.
At home in Shepherd's Valley in 1855, Yoakum wrote his two-volume "History of Texas from its First Settlement in 1685 to its Annexation to the United States in 1846." In the fall of 1865, Yoakum traveled to Houston on business. He fell ill and died there in November 1865.