The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951 Page: 317
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Augustus M. Tomkins, Frontier Prosecutor
service to the Republic was as reporter of the Senate. He acted
in this capacity during the second session of the First Congress
and later, when he was district attorney, during the three sessions
of the Second Congress.4
No information is extant on his preparation in the law. His
appointment as prosecutor within three months of his arrival
would suggest, however, that he had studied law in the United
States and had been admitted to the bar there. The fact that the
most substantial set in his library was nineteen volumes of
Francois Xavier Martin's Louisiana Reports" gives credence to
the idea that he had practiced in Louisiana. His credentials were
seemingly in order, for on December 19, 1836, President Sam
Houston appointed him district attorney of the Second Judicial
District, which included Harrisburg and Brazoria counties. The
Senate confirmed his appointment on the same day." Containing
Houston, the seat of the Texas government, and Brazoria, the most
populous county in the Republic, the Second Judicial District
was the site of a disproportionate amount of litigation, both civil
and criminal. The position of district attorney, therefore, was a
lucrative one. Indeed, a short while later, it was described as "the
most profitable office in the nation."'7
Tomkins served as district attorney for two and a half years.
The Harrisburg County term for spring, 1838, illustrates the
activities of the court during his incumbency, although this term
is not assumed to be representative. At the time, Houston was
a "precocious city"" of some two thousand men and a handful
of women. A young Kentucky gentleman who moved there in
January, 1838, described the place as "the greatest sink of disipa-
tion and vice that modern times have known";9 later, when he
4Comptrollers Civil Service Records, file A. M. Tomkins (MSS. in the Archives,
Texas State Library); Elizabeth LeNoir Jennett, Biographical Directory of the Texas
Conventions and Congresses, z832-z845 (n.p., 1941?), 25, 26.
5Probate Records of Harris County (MSS. in County Clerk's Office, Houston),
6Ernest William Winkler (ed.), Secret Journals of the Senate, Republic of
Texas, z836-1845 (Austin, 1911), 33.
7A. Briscoe to Mirabeau B. Lamar, February 12, 1839, in Charles Adams Gulick,
Jr., and others (eds.), The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols.;
Austin, 1920-1927), II, 451.
8Diary of Mrs. Milly R. Gray, January 2, 1889 (typescript in Rosenberg Library,
@Andrew Forest Muir (ed.), "Diary of a Young Man in Houston, 1838," South-
western Historical Quarterly, LIII, 284.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 54, July 1950 - April, 1951, periodical, 1951; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101133/m1/429/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.