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Thomas W. Cutrer
Memorial Plaque
William Isbell's name on the San Jacinto Memorial Plaque at the San Jacinto Monument in Houston. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
The Battle of San Jacinto (1895)
Painting, The Battle of San Jacinto (1895) by Henry Arthur McArdle. Courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Texas Rangers
Major Jack Hays's Company of Texas Rangers, 1844. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

ISBELL, WILLIAM (1816–1877). William Isbell, soldier of the Republic of Texas, son of James R. Isbell, was born in Greenville, Green County, Tennessee, on June 15, 1816. After a dispute with his father, he ran away from home to live in Abington, Virginia, until the fall of 1834, when he immigrated to Texas and established himself on a farm on Cummings Creek. At Gonzales in the spring of 1835 Isbell joined Capt. Robert M. (Three-legged Willie) Williamson's company of Col. John H. Moore's regiment for a two-month campaign against Indians on the upper Brazos River. In October of the same year he joined Capt. Thomas Alley's company and in December took part in the siege of Bexar. Afterward he planted a crop of corn on Mill Creek in Guadalupe County before joining Capt. Moseley Baker's Company D of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers. He served as a private in this company at the battle of San Jacinto. Also in Baker's company was Pvt. James H. Isbell, William's older brother, who enlisted in Nacogdoches on January 14, 1836. After leaving the army Isbell returned to Mill Creek to harvest his crop and then worked through the winter of 1836 as a bartender in Jane Long's tavern in Brazoria. He resided in Houston from 1837 through 1840, during which time he "wagoned west for Major Bennett" (see BENNET, VALENTINE) and in 1841 campaigned against Indians under Mark B. Lewis and Thomas Green. After returning to San Antonio he served for six months as a Texas Ranger under John Coffee Hays.

Texas Pensioners
List of Texas Pensioners, in the 1872 Texas Almanac. Courtesy of the Portal to Texas History. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

During the winter of 1842 Isbell moved to Washington County and from there, sometime later, to Caldwell in Burleson County, where in 1860 he owned a farm valued at $600 and $2,700 in personal property. Isbell married Olivia Elvira Jackson on January 13, 1843. They had eight children, three of whom died at an early age. Olivia died in 1865, and in 1867 William married Mary Jane Woods Franklin, a widow. They had six children, three of whom died young. Isbell was blinded in an accident in 1856. "I have never seen my present wife and younger children," he ended his personal narrative, published in the 1872 Texas Almanac, "as I have been entirely blind for fourteen years." He died at the Burleson County community of Prairie Mound on December 11, 1877.


William Banta and J. W. Caldwell, Jr.., Twenty-seven Years on the Texas Frontier (1893; rev. by L. G. Parks, Council Hill, Oklahoma, 1933). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Homer S. Thrall, People's Illustrated Almanac: Texas Handbook and Immigrants Guide for 1880 (St. Louis: Thompson, 1880). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas (St. Louis: Thompson, 1879).

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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, Thomas W. Cutrer, "ISBELL, WILLIAM," accessed July 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fis03.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 10, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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