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HARBERT, WILLIAM (1795–1865). William Harbert, planter and merchant, was born in 1795 in Wythe County, Virginia, the son of Thomas and Sarah (Crockett) Harbert. He acquired a fortune as a merchant and plantation owner in Denmark, Madison County, Tennessee, and in the Mississippi Delta. He sold his holdings and moved his family, which included his wife, Mary (Waddell), eight children, and five brothers and sisters and their families, to Texas in 1854 or 1855. More than 100 slaves accompanied the horse-and-mule-drawn wagon train to Colorado County, where Harbert purchased 3,000 acres in the J. Hadden league on the east bank of the Colorado River between Columbus and Alleyton. Harbert soon became known as one of the wealthiest citizens of the county. Improvements on his property included a two-story brick smokehouse and a cotton gin. By 1860 he owned 123 slaves, 100 horses, 150 cattle, 350 sheep, 20 mules, 30 milk cows, and 20 oxen. In addition to agricultural activities, Harbert constructed a general store and bank in Columbus and became known as one of the biggest moneylenders in Colorado County. While returning from a trip to Mexico, he died in Clinton, Texas, on June 21, 1865.


Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989). Colorado County Historical Commission, Colorado County Chronicles from the Beginning to 1923 (2 vols., Austin: Nortex, 1986). Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).

Charles Christopher Jackson


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

Charles Christopher Jackson, "HARBERT, WILLIAM," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 26, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 24, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.