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 »


Kristi Strickland

TEMPLETON, JOHN DICKSON (1845–1893). John Dickson Templeton, lawyer and public official, was born in Henderson County, Tennessee, on August 21, 1845, the son of Thomas Wilson and Elvira Carolina (Dickson) Templeton. In 1850 the Templeton family moved to Texas and settled in Rusk County; eleven years later they moved to Franklin County. Templeton spent most of his boyhood in Texas, and upon the state's secession from the Union he joined in the fight. In 1862, at age seventeen, he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in the Tenth Texas Cavalry. He participated in campaigns in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and at the end of the Civil War he returned to Texas. Initially he worked in farming and schoolteaching, but eventually he decided to become a lawyer. In 1868 he entered the law school of future Texas governor Oran M. Roberts in Gilmer, Texas. After being admitted to the bar in 1870, Templeton set up his practice in Fort Worth. In 1872 he was made editor of the Fort Worth Democrat. Known as a "firm and unyielding Democrat," Templeton was appointed secretary of state by governor Roberts in 1879. Though he spent much of his time in Austin, he continued to assist in the development of Fort Worth. The city was suffering from inefficiencies in several public utilities, so Templeton and four other men organized a private company to supply water to the citizens. With the creation of the Fort Worth Water Works Company, the city finally had an adequate water system. Templeton continued his public duties when he was elected attorney general of Texas, serving from 1882 to 1886. Upon the completion of his tenure in this position, Templeton returned to Tarrant County to resume his private law practice. On April 24, 1893, he died at home in Fort Worth. On the day of his funeral, several courts in the city adjourned early to honor him.

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas (New York: Southern, 1880). Oliver Knight, Fort Worth, Outpost on the Trinity (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953). Proceedings of the Texas Bar Association, 1894.

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, Kristi Strickland, "TEMPLETON, JOHN DICKSON," accessed August 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fte11.

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...