While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Wayne Gard

DESHIELDS, JAMES THOMAS (1861–1948). James Thomas DeShields, Texas historian, son of James Calvin and Drucilla (Chandler) DeShields, was born in Louisiana on May 3, 1861. About the end of the Civil War his parents moved to Texas and settled on a farm in Bell County. Between crops, young DeShields attended public schools, read avidly, and absorbed tales of frontier adventure. He attended Salado College and Baylor University. While working as a house-to-house book agent, he began, as a hobby, to collect manuscripts, books, and pictures relating to Texas history. This interest led him to write articles on frontier history, which he contributed to the Fort Worth Gazette and other newspapers and magazines. A collection, Frontier Sketches, appeared in 1883, and Cynthia Ann Parker was published in 1886. In 1886 DeShields married Ennola Lee Huddleston in Bell County. They had three daughters.

Over a long period, DeShields set down the stories of frontiersmen he knew and dug historical material from newspaper files and other sources. His Border Wars of Texas (1912) recounted many Indian engagements. In 1914 he moved to Dallas, set up a dry-goods business, and continued to write in his spare time. He wrote many articles on such subjects as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, John Coffee (Jack) Hays, the battle of the Alamo, the story of the Texas Revolution, Texas border tales, riding and fighting with the Texas Rangers, and the lure of the frontier. His longer works were The Fergusons: "Jim and Ma" (1932), Tall Men with Long Rifles (1935), and They Sat in High Places (1940). He retired from business in 1935 but continued to write. He died in Dallas on February 8, 1948.


Dallas Morning News, February 9, 1948.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Wayne Gard, "DESHIELDS, JAMES THOMAS," accessed May 25, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fde45.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on July 1, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...