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Woodlief, Deveraux J.  ( 1806  -  1854 Nov 8 )

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WOODLIEF, DEVERAUX JEROME--Born in Virginia in 1806. He came to Texas from Louisiana in 1835. On May 3, 1838 he had received a Headright Certificate for one-third of a league from the Washington County Board.

On the official rolls printed in a booklet in 1836 Woodlief is shown as holding the rank of Major at San Jacinto, but serving as a private in Comptroller's Military Service Record No. 4238 it is certified that he enlisted in Captain Henry M. Karnes' Company March 13 and was discharged May 14, 1836. He was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel August 13 and resigned December 31, 1836. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 882 for 1280 acres of land June 21, 1847 for having served in the army from March 13 to December 13, 1836. On November 27, 1838, he received Donation Certificate No. 639 for 640 acres of land for "having been wounded in the Battle of San Jacinto". He was wounded in the skirmish on April 20th. Colonel Woodlief presented a bill for $12.25 September 16, 1837, for his proportion of the money taken at the Battle of San Jacinto, which he had never received. From this amount he deducted $6.50 for a pair of armas de pila purchased by him of the spoils taken at the battle and for which he had never paid. This left $7.75 due him from the Government.

Colonel Woodlief was in command of the forces at Velasco after the Battle of San Jacinto. There on June 13, 1836 he ordered Captain William H. Patton to remove Santa Anna from Velasco to Columbia. He participated in the battle against the Cherokees July 16, 1839 in which Chief Bowles was killed.

The marriage records of Brazoria County show that Woodlief and Harriet Reynolds were married by bond January 7, 1836. Miss Reynolds was the daughter of Allen and Mary Reynolds. Mrs. Woodlief died in Washington County in 1846, survived by her husband and two children - Thomas Jr., born in 1837, and Harriet M. Woodlief, born in 1843. Colonel Woodlief moved to California before 1850. He is listed as a resident of that state in the census of 1850. At one time he served as judge for San Joaquin County. He married again but the name of his wife is not of record. Colonel Woodlief was killed in a duel ten miles from California, November, 1854 and was buried in the old Yerba Buena in San Francisco. The San Francisco Alta of November 9, 1854 gave an account of the duel and the events leading up to it: FATAL DUEL "Again does it fall to our lot to chronicle one of these unhappy events-too frequent in this State, which has cast a dark shadow over least one hearth, and left one heart desolate.

The principals in this duel were Achilles Kewen and Col. Woodlief. The particulars, as well as could be ascertained, are as follows: Last Friday evening, Mr. Kewen and the Colonel were, with several others, in the Saloon known as the "Blue Wing", Montgomery Street. The conversation was principally on the politics of that day, and became rather animated. The Col. remarked to Kewen that he was a d--d "know nothing", upon which Kewen struck him on the mouth with his hand. Friends interfered and arrested further proceedings at that time. It is said that on Monday Mr. Kewen sought out Col. Woodlief and offered an apology, which was refused. The offer was again renewed, Kewen stating that he would make the apology in writing, if it would be more acceptable. The Colonel, in the meantime, had sent a challenge, and he expressed his determination to have it settled in the usual manner. Friends were accordingly chosen, and it was concluded to cross the Bay, and adjust the difficulty by recourse to fire arms.

"Yesterday morning the parties left in the Oakland ferry boat, at 7 o'clock in the morning. Several persons in the city having been informed of what was going on, crossed over in the ferry boat. On arriving at Oakland the parties proceeded a short distance outside of the city limits. The friends of Mr. Kewen were Messrs. Wake Briarly and Robert Wood. Col. Woodlief's friends were Capt. Skerrett and Major McDonald. The arms chosen for the occasion were Mississippi yagers. The ground was being marked off, when Deputy Sheriff Simons, who had got wind of the affair, made his appearance and ordered them to desist. The Parties then got into their carriages and left, with the determination to cross into another county. After continuing the journey for some time, until they were about ten miles from Oakland, and in the county of Alvarado, they dismounted and ascended a hill near by, followed by a crowd which had increased to about one hundred and fifty persons. On the ridge of the hill they halted; the ground was marked off, forty paces, the principals took their places, and on the word "fire" being given, both wheeled and fired, the ball from Mr. Kewen's rifle passing completely through the heart of Col, Woodlief and out at his back, killing him instantly. It is said that the unfortunate man did not live ten seconds after receiving the wound. This disastrous affair took place about 1 o'clock. The body of the Colonel was brought over to the city in the ferry boat last evening, and taken to the Tehama House. The scene, when the wife of the dead man looked upon all that remained of the former partner of her joys and sorrows, whose silver thread of life had been so abruptly cut, and who, but a few short hours before, had gone forth in the strength and prime of manhood, is said by those who were present last evening, to have been affecting in the extreme.

It is said that Col. Woodlief made his will on Tuesday evening, leaving all he possessed to his widow. He is said to have been engaged in eight duels prior to this fatal one. The funeral will take place today, from the Tehama House, at 2 o'clock. His friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend.

The Sacramento Union carried the following item on November 11, 1854: "DIED: In San Francisco, November 8, Col. D. J. Woodlief, late of Texas aged 48 years.

" "Col. Woodlief was buried in the old Yerba Buena Cemetery, and in the clothes in which he fell, this being in accordance with his often expressed desire. He had an apparent presentiment that he would fall in the duel, and this in spite of the fact that he had come out of many former encounters. On the day before the meeting he made his will, leaving everything he possessed to his wife, except for certain trinkets and other articles, which he directed should be distributed among his intimate friends as mementos. (San Francisco Evening Post, Nov. 9, 1895.

In 1852 the Yerba Buena Cemetery in San Francisco was opened on the top of a large and extensive sand hill, covered in part with oaks and chaparral on the triangle bounded by Market, Larkin, and McAllister Streets, where the new city hall now stands. Soon after the opening of Lone Mountain Cemetery, graves began to be moved to it from Yerba Buena; and afterwards in 1870, when the Yerba Buena property was about to be graded for the erection of the new city hall, all the bodies were required to be removed." (Lone Mountain later became Laurel Hill Cemetery. The bodies have been removed from Laurel Hill. Those not claimed by relatives are at Cypress Lawn, Coma, San Mateo County.)

(From: Hittell, Theodore H., "History of California" 1897) Thomas J. Woodlief, son of Deveraux J. Woodlief, married Rena Estes. Harriet Woodlief, daughter of Deveraux J. Woodlief, first married Captain Seay and after his death she married W.A. Driskill. The surviving grandchildren of Deveraux J. Woodlief in November, 1949 were Thomas W. Seay, James S. Driskill, Thaddeus A. Driskill, Claudius A. Driskill, and Walter E. Driskill, all lived in Wellington, Texas. Mr. James S. Driskill, of Wellington, furnished much of the date used in this sketch.



Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.


Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Wounded in Battle: Wounded in the skirmish on April 20
  • Rank: Private
  • Company: Capt. Henry Wax Karnes

Personal Statistics

  • Alternate Names: Deveraux Jerome, Deveraux Jarrett
  • Date of Birth: 1806
  • Birthplace: Virginia
  • Origin: Louisiana
  • Came to Texas: 1835? 1828?
  • Date of Death: 1854 Nov 8
  • Burial Place: Cypress Lawn, Coma, San Mateo County, California
  • Comments: Mexican War; Killed in a duel (said to have participated in 9 duels)
  • Bounty Certificate: 882
  • Donation Certificate: 639
  • Wife: 1. Harriet Jane Reynolds; 2. unknown
  • Children: Thomas Jefferson Woodlief; Harriet Woodlief Seay Driskill


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