The Kemp Sketch
JETT, JAMES MATTHEW -- Born in Tennessee in 1812. He came to Texas sometime between May 2, 1835 and March 2, 1836. In the Headright Certificate issued to him February 1, 1838 for one-third of a league of land it is stated that he arrived prior to March 2, 1836. Had he arrived prior to May 2, 1835, it would have been so stated in the certificate.
At least four at the sons of W. G. Jett, James Matthew, Stephen, William, and Ferdinand, emigrated to Texas from Tennessee and two of them, James Matthew and Stephen, participated in the Battle of San Jacinto. The brothers, and presumably their father, first settled on the Brazos. William and his wife moved to what is now Fayette County and settled near the home of Abner Kuykendall. Mrs. Jett was a daughter of Absolom Kuykendall. Abner and Absolom Kuykendall were brothers. Ferdinand Jett likewise moved to Fayette County and died there of yellow fever during an epidemic. James Matthew and Stephen Jett, after the Battle of San Jacinto, moved to what is now Medina County, then a part of Bexar County.
James Matthew and Stephen Jett were members of Captain Richard Roman's company at San Jacinto. At the retirement of Captain Roman, his company was commanded by Captain Nicholas M. Dawson, from a muster roll of Captain Dawson's Company found in the Archives of the State Library at Austin, the following information concerning the two brothers was obtained: Both were shown as having been born in White, Tennessee, James Matthew in 1812 and Stephen in 1814. They were living on the Brazos River when recruited by Captain Roman, April 9, 1836, for a period of one year. James Matthew was described as being 5 feet 11 inches in height; of fair complexion with blue eyes and light hair. His occupation was shown as that of a blacksmith. Stephen was shown as having been 5 feet 8 inches in height; of fair complexion with blue eyes and light hair.
James Matthew Jett accompanied Deaf Smith on his expedition to Laredo in February 1837. His term of enlistment expired April 9, 1837, but he remained in the service, off and on, as a ranger up to the time of his death in 1845. His San Jacinto Donation Certificate, No. 978, was issued December 16, 1839.
Mrs. William Jett in her memoirs told of the tragic deaths of James Matthew and Stephen Jett. She insisted that one of the brothers was named James Madison instead of James Matthew. The probate records of Bexar County, Book AB, page 74, however, show that the father, William G. Jett, gave the name as "Matthew." Mrs. Jett first tells of the death of Stephen Jett while serving under Captain Matthew Caldwell at the battle fought on Salado Creek near San Antonio, 1842: "A number of men from LaGrange reached San Antonio in time to take part in the battle of Salado. Jerome Alexander, whom we knew, was killed in the battle. Also a brother of my husband, Stephen Jett, was killed at the close of the battle. He at that time was living on the Medina River in Bexar County and had gone to San Antonio to attend court, having been summoned as a member of the Grand Jury. The Mexicans captured most of the court and Stephen was put in jail. In the bustle and excitement attendant to the Mexicans going out to attack the Texans, Stephen and a companion succeeded in freeing themselves. They procured Mexican sombreros and finding their horses rode out undetected with the Mexican troops. Reaching the battle field they staked their horses and slipped over to the Texas side. Both went through the battle without a scratch. After the fighting had ceased Stephen started back for his horse. His companion refused to go with him and tried to dissuade him, saying the Mexicans had no doubt discovered their horses and would be waylaying the place for the riders. Stephen replied that his horse had taken him out of many bad places and that he was going to him. On reaching the horse, he was confronted by a body of Mexicans. He drew his six-shooter and succeeded in killing six of them, two officers and four privates, one for each load in his pistol, before he himself was killed. When found his body had been badly beaten with guns by the Mexicans. He was buried on the battle field in a grave dug with bayonets. His horse had been taken by the Mexicans but got loose and after several weeks came back to his place on the Medina."
James Matthew Jett and Simeon Bateman were assassinated by John G. Schultz, while asleep in their camp at Virginia Point, Galveston County, January 10, 1845. In January 1845 Mr. Jett left the ranger service with the intention of returning to Tennessee to visit his mother. In company with Mr. Bateman and Schultz, he left Gonzales for Galveston intending there to take a boat for New Orleans. He carried with him about $600.00. Mr. Bateman had a large sum of money with him intending to buy some negroes at New Orleans. Schultz, a German, accompanied them for the purpose of returning their horses to Gonzales. While Jett and Bateman were asleep at Virginia Point Schultz murdered and robbed them. Jett was shot in the head and instantly killed. Bateman was evidently left for dead by Schultz, but before dying he regained strength enough to write a note and give the name of his slayer. The two were found by Griff Jones, a brother of Enoch Jones. Schultz was not arrested for ten years. A young lady from Gonzales who had known Schultz was visiting in South Carolina and learned that he was there. She pointed him out to officers as the man who had murdered Jett and Bateman and he was arrested and returned to Galveston for trial. He was tried and given the death sentence. His case was appealed to the Supreme Court and was reported in Supreme Court Reports of Texas, Vol. 12 or 13, page 401. He was denied a new trial and before being hung June 29, 1855, confessed that it was he who had assassinated Captain Henry Teal as he slept in his tent on a stormy night at Camp Bowie on the night of May 5, 1837.
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.
- Died in Battle: No
- Rank: Private
- Company: Capt. Richard Roman
- Alternate Names: James Madison
- Date of Birth: 1812
- Birthplace: Tennessee, White
- Came to Texas: 1835?
- Date of Death: 1845, Jan 10
- Donation Certificate: 978