Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

(What is this?) | Download the original typescript

SCATES, WILLIAM BENNETT -- Born in Virginia, January 26, 1802. His parents were Joseph Scates born February 3, 1775, and Elizabeth Eggleston (Bennett) Scates, who was born June 4, 1774. They were married September 28, 1801 and were the parents of the following children: William Bennett; Harriet Fields, born March 16, 1804; Joseph W. born December 20, 1805; Walter B., born January 18, 1808; Elizabeth Eggleston, born February 3, 1810; Isaac Coleman, born July 16, 1812 and John Scates, born August 20, 1814.

In Headright Certificate No. 41 issued to Mr. Scates in 1838 for one league and one labor of land by the Board of Land Commissioners for Washington County it is stated that he arrived in Texas March 2, 1832. He participated in the Storming and Capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835. He was sent as a delegate to the convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. The minutes of the Convention show that Mr. Scates was a member of a committee appointed to devise a flag for the new Republic. Quoting from them: March 3 "Resolved, that a committee of five be appointed to devise and report to the convention a suitable flag for the Republic of Texas. Gazley, Scates, Zavala, Robertson and Thomas Barnett."

The flag proposed, evidently be Mr. de Zavala, was adopted on March 10th. On March 11th the following resolution was adopted: March 11. "On motion of Mr. Scates, the Rainbow and Star of five points above the western horizon; and the star of six points sinking below, was added to the flag of Mr. Zavala accepted on Friday last."

Although apparently officially adopted, there is no evidence of a flag of the design mentioned, ever being officially used as the flag of the Republic.

Leaving the convention Mr. Scates made his way to the Texas army and joined Captain Benjamin F. Bryant's Company of "Sabine Volunteers". On October 24, 1846, he was issued Donation Certificate No. 49 for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle of San Jacinto. Since the men in Captain Bryant's Company had enlisted only for a period of thirty days, Mr. Scates at the disbandment of the company joined Captain Hayden Arnold's Nacogdoches Company. He was issued Bounty Certificate No. 1928 for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from March 20 to June 5, 1836.

Mr. Scates was twice married. His first wife was Theodocia Clardy Smith. To this union were born two children, Sarah Elizabeth, born February 8, 1838, and James Robert Scates, born July 8, 1840.

Mr. Scates was married to Sarah McMillan March 25, 1850. Mrs. Scates was born July 28, 1819 and died April 28, 1881. Mr. Scates died February 22, 1882, while a member of the Texas Veterans Association. He was also a member of the Masonic fraternity. The two were buried in a cemetery near Osage, Colorado County, near the old road that runs from Columbus to La Grange. Their remains were exhumed and on September 15, 1929 reinterred in the State Cemetery at Austin. A monument was erected at their graves by the State of Texas.

Children of Mr. and Mrs. Scates were (1) Ellen Virginia, (2) Mollie (3) Harriet Fields, (4) Arrie Bell and (5) Alice Bennett Scates.

The following was extracted from a letter from Mr. W. B. Scates, published in the Texas Almanac of 1873:

"Osage, Colorado County, Texas, October 1st, 1871.

Editor Texas Almanac:- I see in the Colorado Citizen you desire to extend the list of surviving veterans of the Texas revolution, with a sketch of their lives and services in that revolution.

My name is William B. Scates. I was born in Halifax County, Va., January 26, 1802. My father emigrated from there to Christian County, Ky., where I remained with my father, who was a farmer, until 1820, when I went to New Orleans. I there followed clerking for some years, after which I went to work at the house carpentering business, which I followed until 1831, and in February of that year I concluded to visit Texas, as I had become tired of the bustle of the city, and on the 2d of March 1831, I landed at Anahuac, situated near the head of Galveston bay and opposite the mouth of the Trinity. Here I found the plot of quite a city laid out and inhabited by a Mexican garrison with its officers and their families, with a small percentage of Americans. Dr. Labadie, with whom I boarded, of the firm of Wilcox and Labadie, merchants; old Col. Morgan, also merchant; Wm. Hardin, innkeeper; Theodore Dossett, innkeeper; old Dr. Dunlap, or "Doby", as he was often called, also merchant; Wm. B. Travis, P. C. Jack, young lawyers; and Monroe Edwards, who at that time was a young man of high promise; and Robert Williamson, better known as "three legged Willie" - these constituted the most conspicuous of the American citizens. The entire number of Americans was fifty-one, but twenty-nine of that number proved afterwards to be tories, by which name I call them even until now, for I know the trouble they gave us.

I will give you a little sketch of Col. Bradburn, who then commanded the post at Anahuac. His father and my own were neighbors in Kentucky. The old gentleman Bradburn had two sons by his first wife, William and John, whom he set up in merchandising in Springfield, just across the Tennessee line, and at that time there was considerable trading carried on with Natchez, by was then called the old Natchez trace, and these two young merchants, like other merchants, started down to lay in their fall groceries, and concluded, as negroes sold high in the lower country, that would take on a coupe to increase their capital, which they attempted to do, but were pursued and overtaken, the negroes taken away, and they put in the Columbia jail, in Maury County, Tennessee, to await their trial. But by some means they procured a small saw and cut the bars that secured the jail window, and just at dark, were discovered by the citizens getting out of the jail, who immediately pursued them. One of them jumped into Duck river and was killed in the water, the other broke for the canebrake that was near and, it being dark, made his escape and went to Mexico, where he soon became a man of note and an officer of the Government. And this was Col. Bradburn who commanded the garrison of Anahuac in 1831-2"

Mr. Scates then tells of the disturbances in 1832 at Anahuac and Velasco and the Storming and Capture of Bexar in 1835, in which he participated. Due to its length this will be omitted from the letter.

He continues:

"As I have not time at present to continue this sketch further, I must bring it to a close. I would remark, however, that Col. Milam was killed, after which Col. Johnson took entire command. I remained at San Antonio for some time after the surrender when I returned, in company with Col. James Bowie, as far as San Felipe.

"On my arrival at home in Jefferson County, an election was about to come off, which had been ordered by the provisional Governor, to elect delegates to a convention to meet at Washington the 1st of March, and I was elected one of the delegates. In the Convention, I was on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence and also on that which drafted the Constitution, as those documents will show. I was also appointed alone to devise a flag. I drew four devices, out of which the Convention selected one....

On the adjournment of the Convention which was on the 18th of March, 1836, I went immediately to the army, where I remained until the last hostile Mexican was driven beyond the Rio Grande, and participated in every battle both with Mexicans and Indians, that I have any knowledge of, and without any compensation, even for heavy losses. When I went into the army I had a fine stock of goods and was quite independent. When I left the army at the end of the war, I was almost naked and without a dollar...."

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
  • Rank: Private
  • Company: Capt. Benjamin F. Bryant

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1802 Jan 26
  • Birthplace: Virginia, Halifax County
  • Origin: Louisiana
  • Came to Texas: 1832 Mar 2
  • Date of Death: 1882 Feb 22
  • Burial Place: Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas
  • Other Battles: Anahuac Disturbances, Velasco, Bexar
  • Comments: On committee to design Flag for Republic of Texas. Civil War - Confederate.
  • Bounty Certificate: 1928
  • Donation Certificate: 49
  • Profession: Merchant
  • Wife: 1. Theodocia Clardy Smith; 2. Sarah McMillan
  • Children: Sarah Elizabeth Scates; James Robert Scates; Ellen Virginia Scates Lowery; Mollie Scates Teat; Harriet Fields Scates Simpson; Arrie Belle Scates Goode; Alice Bennett Scates Richardson