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ANDREW FOREST MUIR
ONE of the most colorful as well as capable and successful
attorneys to practice in the Republic of Texas has been
completely forgotten by Texas history students who never-
theless have described in detail the lives of drabber men.
Materials on Augustus M. Tomkins, first district attorney of the
Second Judicial District, are not numerous, but the available few
are sufficient to justify a partial portrait of a versatile and enter-
prising man who, notwithstanding his official position, could
hardly be described as a pillar of society.
Tomkins, a small man with a large head, came to Texas in
September, 1836,1 probably from the neighborhood of Vicksburg,
Mississippi. During the first third of the nineteenth century,
along both banks of the Mississippi River, in western Mississippi
and eastern Louisiana, there was a substantial family of Tomkins,
or Tompkins as the name was more commonly spelled.2 The area
was long a hotbed of filibuster sentiment, and it is not unlikely
that Augustus M. Tomkins was named for Augustus Magee of
the abortive Gutierrez expedition into Spanish Texas in 1812 and
1813. If this assumption is correct, Tomkins was probably born
at or shortly after the time of the expedition.
Tomkins appeared in Texas five months after the battle of San
Jacinto and apparently did not serve in the post-revolutionary
army, which was not demobilized until some months after his
arrival. Two brothers, John D. and Stephen S., either accom-
panied him to Texas or followed closely on his heels.s His first
1Deposition of F. M. Gibson, February 25, 1839, in Proceedings of the Board
of Land Commissioners of Harris County (MSS. in County Clerk's Ofhce, -Hous-
ton), B, 21. See also ibid., C, 153.
2Clarence Edwin Carter (comp.), The Territorial Papers of the United States
(Washington, 1942), VI, see index. This volume contains documents relating to
the Territory of Mississippi, 18o9-1817.
8Houston Telegraph, May 16, 1855, quoted in S. O. Young, A Thumb-Nail
History of the City of Houston, Texas, from Its Founding in 1836 to the Year
1912 (Houston, 1912), 48.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101133/. Accessed April 23, 2014.