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 »


Aragorn Storm Miller

ROSS, WILLIAM MCDONALD (1814–1872). William McDonald Ross, sheriff, physician, surveyor, and state legislator, was born in Hickman County, Tennessee, on November 11, 1814. He was the son of Hugh and Lucretia (Lacy) Ross. Ross grew up in Tennessee and, prior to 1838, married Mary Ann Gillespie in Hendersonville, Tennessee. They had at least five children. Ross immigrated with his family to Texas by 1838 and settled in Rusk County. That same year, he purchased 600 acres of land in Rusk and established a homestead near the settlement of Mount Enterprise. In addition to farming, he practiced medicine, engaged in surveying, and, in 1843, became the first sheriff of Rusk County. When Henderson was established as the county seat in 1844, Ross was among the purchasers of land lots in the area. His homestead served as the county jail, as well as county infirmary, prior to the construction of suitable facilities for lawbreakers and the sick. In 1857 Ross, a Democrat, was elected representative for Rusk County to the House of the Seventh Texas Legislature. He served from November 2, 1857, to November 7, 1859, and chaired the Privileges and Elections Committee. He was subsequently elected to the House of the Eighth Texas Legislature and served until November 4, 1861. After the Civil War began, Ross enlisted in Company B, Jones Brigade, Eleventh Texas Infantry, in February 1862. Following the war, he returned to his homestead at Mount Enterprise. He died there on August 26, 1872, and was buried in Ross Cemetery at Mount Enterprise. His home, built in 1845, was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1964.


Legislative Reference Library of Texas: William Ross (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=5121&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=ross~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed July 16, 2014. Remembering Rusk County (Dallas: Curtis, 1992). Rusk County History (Henderson, Texas: Rusk County Historical Commission, 1982). Dorman H. Winfrey, A History of Rusk County (Waco: Texian, 1961).

Aragorn Storm Miller

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, Aragorn Storm Miller, "ROSS, WILLIAM MCDONALD," accessed July 14, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/froeb.

Uploaded on July 17, 2014. 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...