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

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

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SHAW, JAMES -- Born in Clermont County, Ohio, August 8, 1808. In Headright Certificate No. 2 issued to him in 1838 by the Board of Land Commissioners for Brazoria County for one league and one labor of land it is simply stated that he came to Texas before March 2, 1836. In the 1874 Year Book of the Texas Veterans Association, of which he was a member, it is stated that he arrived in Texas in 1835.

Mr. Shaw was a member of Captain William H. Smith's Cavalry Company at San Jacinto and on May 24, 1838, was issued Donation Certificate No. 621 for having participated in the battle. On April 10, 1838 he was issued Bounty Certificate No. 2828 for 320 acres of land for having served in the army from March 7 to August 4, 1836. Sometime after the battle he was promoted to First Lieutenant of the Company.

Mr. Shaw served as a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Legislature representing Milam County and in the Third and Fifth from Burleson County. He was a Senator in the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Congresses from the district composed of Milam and Robertson Counties. In 1855 he was elected to the Senate of the Legislature from the district composed of Burleson and Brazos Counties.

Mr. Shaw was married to Nancy A. Riggs. Their children were (1) Frank, (2) Sophia, and (3) Travis Shaw.

Mrs. Nancy Riggs Shaw, wife of James Shaw the San Jacinto veteran, was born May 18, 1811, and died at Lexington, Texas, August 8, 1877. Mr. Shaw was next married to a Mrs. Kray a widow and to this union was born one child, William Guthrie Shaw, who now lives in San Antonio. Mr. James Shaw died February 14, 1879, and was buried by the side of his first wife in the Early Chapel Cemetery near Lexington, Lee County, Texas. Mr. Shaw was a member of the Texas Veterans Association. Mrs. Shaw and her son by her first marriage, James Kray, were living at La Grange in 1905. The following was published in the Galveston Gazette, January 13, 1864:


Editor Gazette:-Permit me through the columns of your weekly paper, to make known to the civilized world and to Texian soldiers in particular, the death of my unfortunate son, Frank Shaw, a native Texian, who was brutally murdered by Federal troops in Louisiana, on the 3d day of November last. The circumstances are substantially as follows: My son was Orderly Sergeant in Captain Waterhouse's Company, Lane's Regiment, Majors' Brigade of Cavalry. In the morning of the Borbeaux battle, his (Waterhouse's) and Johnston's companies, who had been on picket, a mile from the Federals encampment, marched up to a bridge on Bayou Borbeaux fronting the Federals, and were ordered to dismount and take trees. My son with two or three others, seeing a good position across the bayou, some eight or ten steps in advance of our line, ran to it, and after having fired three or four rounds each, the order was given to fall back to their horses, who having further to run by being in advance, they were captured before they got back.

At this critical moment Gen. Green and Majors came dashing up at the head of their victorious columns from the right, and repulsed the enemy, who after having taken my son some four hundred yards, fearing his recapture, brutally and inhumanly murdered him by shooting him in the head with a pistol!

I have not written this account hastily and from the impulse of the moment; but have waited patiently for the last four or five weeks hoping the first account of this sad affair which I received from my nephew, A. P. Perkins, might possibly prove incorrect as I could not believe, that there was a nation on the face of God's habitable Globe, especially one professing to be foremost in civilization and Christianity, that would have acted so barbarously: notwithstanding the poet has long since said:

"But look for ruin when a coward wins, For fear and cruelty were ever twins."

My son had met them honorably previously on many battle fields. Mr. James Holland, a member of the same company, has lately arrived at my house, with his horse and baggage. He was taken prisoner a short time previous to my son; but he saw while in New Orleans, before his escape, the prisoners who were captured with him, with whom he was well acquainted, and they informed him that they saw Frank shot in the cowardly manner described above, and for the only reason, that his feeble health would not permit him to keep up afoot, with their retreating cavalry.

I have been thus particular in detailing facts for this purpose of making it publicly known to our brave Texian troops in the field, that these same thieves and murderers under Gen. Banks, are now polluting our Southern borders with their unwelcome presence, and I now leave it with them to decide whether or not, so cowardly and dastardly an enemy deserved the treatment of a brave and magnanimous foe?

James Shaw

Lexington, Jan. 13, 1864.

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. William H. Smith

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1808 Aug 8
  • Birthplace: Ohio, Clermont County, Clermontville
  • Came to Texas: 1835
  • Date of Death: 1879 Feb 14
  • Burial Place: Early Chapel Cemetery, Lee County, Texas
  • Bounty Certificate: 2828
  • Donation Certificate: 621
  • Wife: 1. Nancy A. Riggs; 2. Courtney Kray
  • Children: Frank Shaw, Sophia Shaw Douglas, Travis Shaw, William Guthrie Shaw