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Henry Smith

Governor Henry Smith

Henry Smith, was known as the first provisional governor of the Republic of Texas. Henry was born in Kentucky on May 20, 1788. He was the tenth and last child of James and Magdalen (Woods) Smith. Henry, moved to Texas around 1827, with the Gillette Family. He was married three times, to sisters, Harriet, Elizabeth, and Sarah Gillett of the Gillette family, that Henry moved to Texas with. Henry was the father of nine children, by the three sisters.

For his role in the Provisional Government during the early stages of the Texas Revolution, Henry Smith is remembered as the first governor of Texas.

After coming to Texas, he settled in Brazoria in 1827. There, he farmed, surveyed lands, and taught school. From the day of his arrival in Texas, he took an active role in public affairs.

In 1832, when the battle of Velasco broke out, he took part in the battle and was severely wounded.

He became a member of the Convention of 1833. In 1833, Henry Smith was elected alcalde of the jurisdiction of Brazoria. In 1834, the governor of Coahuila and Texas appointed Smith the political chief of the newly established department of the Brazos. His appointment to this position indicates that the Mexican officials considered him an outstanding citizen.

Smith became one of the leaders of the Independence Party. In the summer of 1835, he was chosen to serve on the Columbia Committee of Safety and Correspondence, and later in the same year was elected one of the delegates from his district to the Consultation.

At the Consultation in 1835, Smith was chosen governor of the Provisional Government. Henry Smith urged an immediate declaration of independence and was very disappointed when that body decided instead to pledge its support to the Mexican Federal Constitution of 1824.

In creating the provisional government, the Consultation made an attempt to satisfy all factions. A majority of the members of the General Council were in favor of the Declaration of November 7, 1835, and were known as members of the Peace Party. Henry Smith was one of the leaders of the Independence Party.

Governor Smith did not believe in compromise, nor did he know the language of diplomacy. Within a short time, the government was torn in pieces. This condition was due, in part, to Henry Smith's assumption that Texas was already a free and independent state. There were numerous other points of disagreement, including some of a personal nature. By January of 1836, the gulf between the two branches of government
became so wide that co-operation was no longer possible.

Governor Smith attempted to dissolve the Council, but the Council retailiated by impeaching the governor. In their original form, the articles of impeachment charged the governor with violation of failure to support the Declaration of November 7, with official perjury and with slandering and libeling members of the General Council.

So, in 1836, a new convention was held.  Smith was not invited as a member of the Convention of 1836, and had no place in the ad interim government organized by that body. Nor did the Convention of 1836 have time to devote to the charges of impeachment and so the governor was never called upon to answer the charges made against him.

Henry did announce his support of General Sam Houston, and Henry served as Secretary of the Treasury during the first Sam Houston administration. Henry was never able to either balance the budget or to give value to the currency of the Republic of Texas.
(see Texas Republic Currency on "Money in the 1800's" page.)
His work, however, met with the approval of Sam Houston and of Congress.

In the late 1830s, Henry with his partner, James Power,  promoted a development along the Texas Gulf Coast in the area of present day, Aransas County,  Aransas City, was incorporated on January 28, 1939, with James Power as the mayor. Henry had purchased land and built a home on Live Oak Peninsula. However, the land Henry and James Power wanted to develop was already owned by settlers in the area and a 20 year court battle ensued. It was finally overturned in favor of the settlers, with Henry Smith's nephew
Joseph F. Smith  as the attorney, in favor for the settlers.

During that time of the court battle, Aransas City was built but did not survive.

In 1840, Henry Smith was elected in the Fifth Congress of the Republic and served one term in the House of Representatives. He was made chairman of the committee on finance.

Henry then retired to his land near Brazoria. In his sixties, Henry Smith followed the "forty-niners" gold rush to California. Henry died in a mining camp in California on March 4, 1851. On this trip he took Joseph F. Smith, and John Smith Jr, along with his sons.



Family BIO for Henry Smith

Henry Smith

# Birth: 20 MAY 1788 in Garrard, KY
# Death: 4 MAR 1851 in Los Angeles, CA

Father: James SMITH b: 1740 in of Bedford, VA
Mother: Magdalen WOODS b: 1744 in VA

Marriage 1: Harriet GILLETTE

Married: 1815 in Paint Lick, KY


1. William Watts SMITH
2. John Gillette SMITH
3. James Evans SMITH

Marriage 2:Elizabeth GILLETTE

Married: JAN 1822


1. Harriet G. SMITH
2. Jane SMITH
3. Sarah SMITH
4. Emily SMITH
5. Sophronia SMITH

Marriage 3:Sarah GILLETTE

Married: 1839


1. Elizabeth SMITH

Out of all of these children only three children were living at Henry Smith's death.

Harriet G. SMITH
William Watts SMITH
John Gillette SMITH
(which married)Mary E. Higgins

That we know of at this time!


Gillette/Gillett Family

(Thisis the family (listed with their children they had) that came with Henry Smith to Texas)

 1. Roswell GILLETT Married Martha Smith Bowles :


1. James T. Gillett b: 23 DEC 1833 in Texas
2. Hannah Elizabeth "Lizzie" Gillett b: ABT. 1842 in Texas
3. Julia Bowler Gillett b: 22 NOV 1845 in Texas
4. Roswell H. Gillett b: 15 FEB 1849 in Texas
5. George Rice Gillett b: 14 DEC 1850 in Grimes County, Texas
6. Emma Gillett b: 25 JUL 1855 in Texas
7. Mary Thornton Gillett b: 6 JAN 1858 in Beeville, Texas

2. Harriett GILLETT Married  Henry Smith (children listed above)

3. Elizabeth GILLETT Married  Henry Smith  (children listed above)

4. Sarah GILLETT Married  Henry Smith  (children listed above)

5. Samuel S. GILLETT (unknown at this time!)

6. Catherine GILLETT  Married John Smith in 1838 (his second wife) according  to  John Smith's Probate in 1848. 

 John Smith's first family, one child: John Smith, Jr.


Children of Catherine Gillette /John Smith/Father

Samuel H. SMITH b: 1839 in Texas
Jane SMITH b: 1841 in Texas
Catherine SMITH b: 1843 in Texas
Isabella SMITH b: 1845 in Texas

Samuel H. Smith and John Smith Jr both lived, and raised their families in Rockport, and Lamar,  Aransas County, Texas. However John Smith Jr inherited all of his father's lands from the State of Texas. And that was after a huge court battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. 


7. James Shackelford GILLETT(unknown at this time!)


All Gillett/Gillette children list above were the children of :
Jonathan GILLETT and Hannah SHACKELFORD  of Kentucky