The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 386
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Richard Coke had served Texas long and creditably, but he
was not a native Texan. Born in Virginia, in 1829, he did not move
to Texas until 1850 after he had graduated with honors from
William and Mary College and had been admitted to the bar in
Virginia. It is reputed that his decision to migrate to Texas was in
part influenced by General Sam Houston whom he met in Wash-
ington while visiting his uncle, Congressman Richard Coke, Jr.,
of Virginia. General Houston gave young Richard a letter of
introduction to former Governor J. Pinckney Henderson of Hous-
ton. With this letter in his possession, Richard Coke made his
way to Texas, going by boat down the Ohio River, thence by the
Mississippi to New Orleans, across the Gulf of Mexico, and up
Buffalo Bayou to Houston. There Henderson told Coke of the
wonderful possibilities of Texas and particularly in the newly-
organized county of McLennan where he predicted Waco would
become an important and flourishing city. Coke decided to go to
Waco, and purchasing a "horse, saddle and bridle," he made the
trip from Houston to Waco on horseback. Settling in Waco, he
became the second lawyer to enter the practice of law there.2
Richard Coke "was a young man of sterling qualities, steady
habits and popular manners, which, in connection with a strong
mind and finished education, soon opened to him avenues of suc-
cess and distinction. His professional ascent was rapid and bril-
liant, and in a few years he took a position in the front rank of
the bar of his district."8
The people of Waco recognized Coke's leadership ability, and
in 1861 he was chosen their representative at the Secession Con-
vention. As captain of a company of his fellow townsmen, he led
them through the ordeal of the Civil War. In 1865, Richard Coke
began his career of public service when he was appointed district
judge. So efficient and just was he in this capacity that in 1867
he was elevated to the Supreme Court of Texas as associate justice.
From this position, he was removed by General Charles Griffin,
"preparatory to the political infamy known as the reconstruc-
tion."4 Commenting on his three years as associate justice, the
2William M. Sleeper and Allan D. Sanford, Waco Bar and Incidents of Waco
History (Waco, 1941), 70.
BDallas Morning News, May 14, 1897, p. 1.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/486/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.