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 »


Claudia Hazlewood

MCLEARY, JAMES HARVEY (1845–1914). James Harvey McLeary, soldier and judge, son of Dr. Samuel D. and Sarah Ann (Weller) McLeary, was born in Smith County, Tennessee, on July 27, 1845. The family settled on Harvey's Creek in Colorado County, Texas, in the late 1850s. McLeary attended county schools and Soule University before he joined the Confederate Army to serve under Henry H. Sibley from 1861 to 1865. He subsequently received a B.A. degree from Washington and Lee University in 1868 and graduated from law school in 1869. He returned to Texas, was admitted to the bar in June 1869, and opened an office in Columbus. In December he married Emily Mitchell of San Antonio; they had one child who survived to adulthood. McLeary moved to San Antonio and became a partner of Charles L. Wurzbach. Emily died in 1872.

The next year McLeary was elected to the Texas legislature, where he focused on education and took a leading part in shaping the legislation that gave towns and cities the right to control their local public schools. He married Mary King, daughter of Valentine O. King, in August of 1875. They had four children, including sculptor Bonnie MacLeary. McLeary was elected attorney general of Texas in 1880 and served one term. He was grand master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas in 1881. He was appointed United States judge in Montana Territory by President Grover Cleveland in 1886. After returning to Texas in 1888, McLeary and Judge W. W. King formed a partnership that was dissolved after a year. In 1892 McLeary was a delegate to the state Democratic convention at Lampasas and to the Democratic national convention in Chicago. He served in the Spanish-American War with the rank of major and in 1901 was appointed United States judge in Puerto Rico, where he served until ill health forced him to return, in November 1913, to Washington, D.C. He died there on January 5, 1914, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). San Antonio Express, January 6, 1914. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.

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, Claudia Hazlewood, "MCLEARY, JAMES HARVEY," accessed July 15, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmc87.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. 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...