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Henderson King Yoakum

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."

The following year, Yoakum traveled to Houston and died there in November 1856.


Short Biography of Henderson Yoakum Cheryl Spencer, a library associate in the Sam Houston State University Newton Gresham Library Special Collections, presents a short biography of Henderson Yoakum. Creator: Courtesy Sam Houston State University Newton Gresham Library


Henderson King Yoakum
Henderson King Yoakum Henderson Yoakum migrated to Texas in 1845 to practice law with Anthony Martin Branch. A statesman, soldier, lawyer, and author, Yoakum is best known for writing the earliest history of Texas. Source: Walker County Historical Commission
Home of Henderson Yoakum
Home of Henderson Yoakum Henderson Yoakum built his home about three miles east of Huntsville on Four Notch Road at its intersection with U.S. Highway 190. Built in the early 1850s, the house is Greek revival style with a dormer in the center of the roof. Source: Walker County Historical Commission
Henderson Yoakum Grave Marker
Henderson Yoakum Grave Marker Henderson King Yoakum was born in Claiborne County, TN, on September 6, 1810. Falling ill while on business in Houston, Yoakum died at the home of a friend on November 30, 1845. His body is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Huntsville. Source: Oakwood Cemetery



Tracy Lewis, “Henderson King Yoakum,” East Texas History, accessed June 21, 2024,