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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 (, 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
Aragorn Storm Miller

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Aragorn Storm Miller, "ROSS, WILLIAM MCDONALD," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on July 17, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.