MENEFEE, WILLIAM (1796–1875). William Menefee (Menifee), lawyer and public official, was born in Knox County, Tennessee, on May 11, 1796, son of John and Frances (Rhodes) Menefee. He studied law and was admitted to the bar sometime before 1824, when his family and that of John Sutherland Menefee moved to Morgan County, Alabama, and settled near Decatur. In 1830 he moved to Texas with his wife, the former Agnes Sutherland, daughter of George Sutherland, and seven children. Another daughter was born in Texas. Menefee settled in the community of Egypt in what is now Colorado County. By 1840 he had acquired title to 1,300 acres of land and owned fifty cattle, four horses, and seven slaves. He was a delegate from the district of Lavaca to the conventions of 1832 and 1833qv. He represented Austin Municipality in the Consultation and on December 8, 1835, was seated as a member of the General Council of the provisional government. On January 9, 1836, he was elected first judge of Colorado Municipality. He and William D. Lacey were delegates from Colorado to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Menefee was appointed the first chief justice of Colorado County on December 20, 1836. In 1839 he was one of the five commissioners who selected Austin as the capital of the Republic of Texas. He was nominated secretary of the treasury of the republic on December 23, 1840, but the Senate had taken no action by January 21, 1841, and the nomination was withdrawn. Menefee represented the Colorado district in the House of the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth congresses of the republic, September 1837 to November 1841, and in the Ninth Congress, December 1844 to February 1845. He was defeated by Edward Burleson for the vice presidency of the republic in 1841. In 1842 he participated in the campaign against Rafael Vásquez. Menefee was elected chief justice of Colorado County on July 13, 1846, but during that year moved to Fayette County, which he represented in the House of the Fifth Legislature. He died on October 28 or 29, 1875, and was buried in the Pine Springs Cemetery, six miles from Flatonia. The state of Texas later moved his remains and those of his wife to the State Cemetery.
Colorado County Historical Commission, Colorado County Chronicles from the Beginning to 1923 (2 vols., Austin: Nortex, 1986). Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).