A Shepperd Family Tradition
by: Kameron Searle
In three consecutive generations, the Shepperd family of Surry County, North Carolina
helped found at least three new towns in the North Carolina, the Republic of Texas and the State of Texas. Recent
research suggests a fourth.
- Jacob Sheppard (grandfather) - Rockford, Surry County, North Carolina
- W. W. Shepperd (father) - Montgomery, Washington County, Republic of Texas
- Jacob Shepperd (son) - Shepperd's Valley, Walker County, State of Texas
Jacob Sheppard - Rockford, North Carolina
In 1790, Jacob Sheppard was appointed a commissioner of the town of Rockford, Surry
County, North Carolina. Chapter LVIII of the Laws of North Carolina - 1790 provides:
An Act to Establish a Town at the Place Fixed Upon for the
Court-House in the County of Surry, and for Adding Two More Commissioners to Those Heretofore Appointed for
Fixing the Public Buildings in Said County.
Whereas, it hath been represented to this General Assembly that it is a pleasant
healthy situation, and that Thomas Ayres and Moses Ayres have made a deed in fee simple of fifty-three acres of
land to Micajah Oglesby, Edward Lovell, Charles Smith, Henry Speer, and William Tyrrell Lewis, Esquires, for
the use of the said county:
I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North
Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the lands so laid off be
established a town, agreeable to the scheme and plan thereof, by the name of
II. And be it further enacted by the authority- aforesaid, That William Thornton,
Stephen Wood, John Thomas Longino, Jacob
Sheppard and David Humphries, be and they are hereby constituted and appointed commissioners and
trustees for carrying on and regulating the said town; and they shall be seized
of an indefeasable estate in fee simple in the said fifty- three acres of land, to and for the uses, intents
and purposes hereby declared. And the said commissioners, or a majority of them, shall have full power and
authority to meet as often as they shall think proper, to make such regulations as they shall judge most
III. And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That a majority of the commissioners
aforesaid shall have full power to sell and dispose of the lots in the said town, make and execute deeds in fee simple to the respective purchaser or purchasers for the
IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That respective purchasers of
lots shall pay and satisfy the commissioners for whatever sum or sums they may severally incur by purchasing
lots from the said commissioners, and in case of neglect of any purchaser to pay the sum or sums that may be
incurred as aforesaid, that then in that case the commissioners or a majority of them may commence a suit or
suits in their own names, and therein recover judgment. And the said commissioners as soon as they shall
receive the money by the sales as aforesaid, shall pay the same into the hands of the commissioners for letting
the public buildings in the said county, and be applied towards defraying the
expence of the buildings aforesaid. Provided nevertheless, before the said commissioners receive the money
aforesaid, they shall enter into bond with good security, in the sum of five hundred pounds, for their faithful
application of the money so received by them.
V. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case of the death,
refusal to act, or removal out of the county, of any of the commissioners, the
court of the county is hereby empowered to appoint some other person, being a
freeholder, in the place of him so dying, refusing to act, or removing as aforesaid, which commissioners or
trustees shall have the same power and authority as if he had been appointed by this Act.
VI. Be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That William Cooke and Robert
Harris, be and they are hereby appointed commissioners in addition to those heretofore appointed, for fixing
and carrying into effect the public buildings in the county of
Surry, who shall have the same power and authority, and exercise the same
privileges in all respects, as those heretofore appointed by an Act for dividing the county of Surry.
Note that later we will see a substantial number of similarities between this North Carolina
legislative act and the legislative act creating Montgomery County in the Republic of Texas on December 14, 1837.
The minutes of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court will also contain similar language.
Will of Jacob Sheppard
As seen in the will of Jacob Sheppard, his sons William Watters Sheppard and Augustine Henry
Sheppard were administrators. Augustine Henry Shepperd was later elected a United States Congressman from
North Carolina. William Watters Shepperd moved to Texas as an early settler in 1831 where he would found the Town
of Montgomery, Texa in 1837.
[Scan Will of Jacob Sheppard]
William Watters Shepperd - Montgomery, Texas
In the Republic of Texas, in July of 1837, William Watters Shepperd in partnership
with John Wyatt Moody, the First Auditor of the Republic of Texas, founded the town of Montgomery, Texas. The new
town was introduced in an advertisement that ran in July 8, 1837 edition of the Telegraph and Texas
Register newspaper published in Houston, Texas. The advertisement had been placed with the Telegraph
and Texas Register on July 4, 1837.
July 8, 1837 Telegraph and Texas
For more about William W. Shepperd's extensive role in the founding of the town of
Montgomery, Texas see articles on the Indian Trading Post and the
Lake Creek Settlement. W. W. Shepperd
later sold his interest in the town of Montgomery to James McCown for $4,000.
W. W. Shepperd - Carolina, Texas
In Montgomery County Texas Deed Book F on page 411, W. W. Shepperd sold two
thirds league and ninety acres of land that he bought at the estate sale of John H. Cummings to Edward Bailey and
Thomas Gay for $1,140. The sale was witnessed by Charles B. Stewart and B. B. Goodrich on August 28, 1838. The
town of Carolina was founded by Edward Bailey and Thomas Gay on this land purchased from W. W.
W. W. Shepperd - Danville, Texas
I have read several histories of the town of Danville or "Old Danville" as it is often
referred to. Danville was located in Montogmery County, Texas. Surprisingly, no one has actually nailed
down the year that the town of Danville was founded. One marker has been erected in recent years stating that
the town was founded as early as 1833. Other sources report 1838 and 1840 as the dates the town came
into existence. There are no primary sources to support any of these dates. Primary sources indicate
that the town was founded around 1846. As we will see below, primary historical sources exist to prove
Danville was in existence by 1846.
The earliest mention of Danville in a primary source that I have been able to
locate was in The Texas Democrat newspaper published in Austin, Texas on Saturday, March 21, 1846,
Vol. 1, No. 12. page 2. If you are aware of an earlier reference in a primary historical document, please let
me know and I will be glad to add it to this page. Below is a scan of the article from The Texas
From the March 21, 1846 Edition of The Texas
Mr. M'Cown offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That the committee on post roads be requested to consider
the necessity of a mail route from Opelousas in La. to San Antonio de Bexar, via Salem, Taylor,
Richardsons, Swartwout, Raven Hill, Caruthers, Danville,
Lone Oak, Montgomery, Shannon, Rusk, Retreat, Fanthorps, Washington, Bren-[sic] Gonzales, Seguin to
Bexar; and if they [sic] that they add such route to the bill now [sic] them.
So, the name Danville was being used to describe a place along a proposed
mail route as early as March 21, 1846. The next primary source that mentions a place called Danville in
Montgomery County was the Wednesday, April 8, 1846 edition of the Democratic Telegraph and Texas Register
published in Houston, Texas. See Vol. 11, No. 14, page 2.
From the April 8, 1846 Edition of Democratic Telegraph and Texas
The chart above which provided election results for a United States
Congressional race was the earliest primary source that William Harley Gandy cited in his 1952 Master's thesis,
A History of Montgomery County, Texas. In this chart, a polling place named "Danville" was in
existence by April 8, 1846. Though the name Danville was in use in early 1846, there does not seem to
have been a physical town in existence at that time.
In 1845 and 1846 deeds executed for the sale of land where the town would later be
located, there is no mention a town or of a place called Danville as one would expect to find in the
deeds. Mention of the town of Danville and lots in the town of Danville would appear in later deeds. It
would seem that Danville was a polling place and a post office before it was a town. On August 19, 1847, Daniel
Robinson became the first postmaster of Danville, Texas. Daniel Robinson did not have a plat of the town of
Danville prepared until July 10, 1848.
W. W. Shepperd owned the real estate that contained the lands that became
the town of Danville, Texas between 1846 and 1847. See map prepared by Karen Lawless showing W. W. Shepperd's land transactions in and around the
town of Danville. Click here to read Journey to Danville by Karen Lawless. This well researched article provides the exact
dates that Shepperd purchased the lands in and around the town of Danville.
Old Danville Road Sign
Many of the landmark's in the vicinity of what was Danville, Texas, still bear
the Shepperd name including Shepard Hill Road, Shepard Hill Cemetery,
Shepard Branch and Shepard Lake. See Google map below. The SHEPARD
spelling found in these palce names is a misspelling as W. W. Shepperd always signed his name with the spelling
View Larger Map
Intersection of Shepard Hill Road and Old Danville
Jacob H. Shepperd - Shepperd's Valley, Texas
In 1853, William W. Shepperd's son, Jacob H. Shepperd, founded the community of
Shepperd's Valley. As the advertisement below indicates, Shepperd's Valley was located 7 1/2 miles south-east of
Huntsville in Walker County, Texas. This advertisement is from page 3 of the January 22, 1853 editon of the
Huntsville Item newspaper.
Huntsville Item - January 22, 1853
Improved or Unimproved Land for Sale
830 or a less number of acres of the very richest
upland and bottom, winter and summer range unsurpassed
by any in this part of the State, situated 7 1-2 miles
sout-east from Huntsville, on Shepperd's Creek, one of
the tributaries of East San Jacinto. For more
information, apply to Messrs. J. C. & S. R. Smith, Col.
Yoakum, John McCreary, Chief Justice of Walker County,
all residing in Huntsville; Mr. B. A. Oliphant, living near
me: or to myself on the premises, Shepperd's
J. H. SHEPPERD
Note the name of Col. H. Yoakum listed in the advertisement.
This was attorney Henderson Yoakum. Henderson Yoakum moved to Shepperd's Valley and built a home there. He
also wrote his two volume History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the
United States in 1846 there in 1854 . Yoakum County, Texas, established in 1876, was named after
Dedication, Page 4, History of Texas, Vol. I, 1855, by Henderson Yoakum
Because of the spelling used in Yoakum's History of Texas, Shepperd's Valley
is often seen mispelled as Shepherd's Valley. Jacob Shepperd fought as an officer in the Texas Revolution. He
fought in the Battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight and the Siege of Bexar.