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DEWITT, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

DEWITT, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1820–1890). Christopher Columbus DeWitt, pioneer, Confederate officer, and community leader, was born on April 11, 1820, in St. Louis County, Missouri, to Green DeWitt and Sarah (Seely) DeWitt. Green DeWitt was granted the right to found a colony in South Central Texas in 1825. Soon after, he brought his family, including young Christopher Columbus, to Texas and created a permanent settlement at Gonzalez in 1828. He grew up in DeWitt's colony and attended no formal schools. C.C. DeWitt's lack of formal training did not preclude the several terms he served as Gonzales County commissioner, sheriff, and judge during the 1850s. On July 28, 1842, he married Parmelia Narcissa Barrow of Mississippi. The couple had six children: Green, Sara E., Thomas, Jonas, Minerva, and Christopher Columbus, Jr.

As a youth DeWitt served with Capt. Albert Martin in the autumn of 1835, presumably participating in the siege of Bexar. For this service, DeWitt received $87 and a 1,280-acre land grant from the Republic of Texas. He participated in the Linnville Raid of 1840 defending against Indians. He also served during the Rafael Vasquez campaign of 1842. By 1845 DeWitt owned nearly 1,476 acres of land, and by 1860 he owned fourteen slaves. By 1861 he was a "zealous secessionist" and served in the state reserve corps, presumably in several capacities. DeWitt served as commander of the Confederate Minute Men in Bexar County. He held several ranks including lieutenant, major, and colonel. Ultimately, he was granted the rank of brigadier general by the state of Texas.

After the war, DeWitt served again as county judge and continued to farm and raise livestock. He also invested in local businesses and often served as a county commissioner. Parmelia Narcissa died on March 3, 1870, and DeWitt remarried on October 15, 1879, to M. Mattie Walker Laird. Through the marriage he gained a stepdaughter, but the couple had no children. DeWitt lived on his farm near Gonzales in his mother's former home until his death on November 2, 1890. He is buried in the DeWitt Family Cemetery in Gonzales.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt. Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Gonzales County Historical Commission, History of Gonzales County (Dallas: Curtis, 1986).

Jennifer Eckel

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Jennifer Eckel, "Dewitt, Christopher Columbus ," accessed May 02, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdebc.

Uploaded on March 31, 2011. Modified on June 2, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.