The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968

The Fabulous Tom Ochiltree:
Promoter, Politician, and Raconteur
CLAUDE H. HALL*
A FTER NEARLY A DECADE'S ABSENCE FROM TEXAS, COLONEL THOMAS
SP. Ochiltree arrived in Austin and checked in at the Driskill
Hotel on February 18, 1895. The Austin Statesman in a welcoming
editorial commented that the now "world famed Tom" had returned
to the scene of his boyhood triumphs. Few Austin landmarks remained
to remind Tom Ochiltree of the year 1861 when "chuck full of
martial ardor," he had been ready cheerfully "to kill ten Yankees
before breakfast and many hundreds more after a hearty meal." Since
few of its members had ever met the legendary Ochiltree, the Texas
legislature quickly adjourned to permit them to make the acquaint-
ance of this world renowned raconteur, this "prince of good fel-
lows."' As a Galveston physician who had known him for thirty
years wrote:
I must say I have never met a more charming man of the world. He has
met everybody worth meeting, has seen everything worth seeing and comes
about as near knowing everything worth knowing as any man I ever
heard of.
He is a man possessed of great personal magnetism and I defy anyone
... to resist his charms when he lays himself out to please. When he
chooses to be so he is simply irresistible. One may have just heard .. .
something to his discredit, but two or three minutes of his charming talk
is sufficient to sweep all disagreeable impressions of him to the four
winds."
Tom Ochiltree had always been able to "juggle the English language
with as much felicity as he could order a Delmonico meal." Poli-
ticians or actors, generals or sportsmen, cowboys or princes, it mattered
not, he would walk up, "accost them familiarly by their Christian
names, wade into their confidence, and capture their hearts." He
*Mr. Hall is professor of history at Texas A&M University and author of Abel Parker
Upshur, Conservative Virginian, i79o-z844. The author wishes to express appreciation
for the research assistance extended by Texas A&M University's Fund for Organized
Research.
'Austin Daily Statesman, February 18, 2o, 21, 1895; Dallas Morning News, February 19,
1895; Journal of the Senate of Texas, 24th Leg., 1st Sess. (1895), 182.
'Dallas Morning News, July 14, 1893.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/. Accessed December 26, 2014.