The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Illuminating the Lesser Lights: Notes on the Life of
Albert Clinton Horton
MATTHEW ELLENBERGER*
FATE HAS OBSCURED THE HISTORY OF ALBERT CLINTON HORTON. FIRE
consumed the public records of his early years. No known collection
of personal papers remains. No one thought to name a county for the
company commander who had the misfortune to survive Goliad. One
hundred years passed before Horton was publicly recognized in the
Texas State House as a former governor. In an unnecessarily malicious
attempt to blur his memory, Fate even provided Texas with two revolu-
tionary patriots named Horton, and careless historians have confused
them ever since. Yet A. C. Horton was unquestionably a member of the
elite that directed the fortunes of antebellum Texas. He served the Re-
public as a senator and the state as a lieutenant governor and an acting
governor. He helped establish a major university and his personal es-
tate placed him among the wealthiest planters in Texas. His place in
Texas history can still be established despite the ravages of time and
chance and the malignity of Fate.'
The portrait of A. C. Horton that hangs in the Texas capitol presents
a noble face, balanced and handsome with a stern chin, calm mouth,
broad forehead, and melancholy, perceptive eyes. His hair was sandy
gray, prompting the nickname "Old Sorrel," and was worn in a queue
through much of his life but is close cropped in the portrait.2
*Matthew Ellenberger was born in San Antonio and educated at the universities of Tennes-
see and Oregon. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland
'Examples of this confusion can be found in Roy Grimes, Golzad I30 Years After (Refugzo and
Guadalupe Vzctorza), March, z836-1966 (Victoria, Te''cx., 1966), 83; Seymour V. Connor, Adven-
ture in Glory- The Saga of Texas, z836-1849 (Austin, 1965), 55; A K Christian, "Mirabeau
Buonaparte Lamar," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXIV (July, 1920), 45 (the Quarterly is
cited hereafter as SHQ). Biographical notes on Albert C. Horton can be found in Biographcal
Directory of the Texas Conventions and Congresses (Austin, n d.), 1o6, and in Walter Prescott Webb,
H. Bailey Carroll, and Eldon Stephen Branda (eds ), The Handbook of Texas (3 vols , Austin,
1952, 1976), I, 840
2Galveston Daily News, Apr. 12, 1879 (quotation) A photograph that is reproduced in
James T. DeShlelds, They Sat in Hzgh Places (San Antonio, 1940), following 175, appears to
have been the source of the portrait that hangs in the State Capitol A short newspaper biogra-
phy pubhshed fourteen years after his death describes Horton as possessing "a queue of sandy

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/. Accessed December 19, 2014.