Two orphaned brothers headed west in search of adventure and a new life. The story is common in the annals of the frontier. In the case of brothers Francis and Thomas Lubbock of South Carolina, their story would play an important role in Texas history.
Francis Richard Lubbock was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, in 1815 to Dr. Henry and Ann Lubbock. While still an infant, the family moved to Charleston, where younger brother Thomas was born in 1817. Tragedy struck the family in 1829 when their father died. With the family struggling, the 14-year-old Francis quit school to work as a clerk.
In 1835, after the death of their mother, the two brothers moved to New Orleans, where the elder Lubbock worked with a variety of businesses and 17-year-old Thomas worked as a cotton agent. The revolution erupting in Texas captivated their attention.
Thomas Lubbock and a group of other New Orleans residents organized a unit, the New Orleans Grays, and marched into Texas to support independence. He participated in the Siege of Bexar in late 1835, temporarily wresting San Antonio from Mexican control. After the Texas Revolution, he worked as a businessman and a Texas Ranger.
In 1836, Francis Lubbock followed his brother to Texas and settled in what became Houston to set up a store. He became heavily involved in politics and was appointed as comptroller by Texas President Sam Houston in 1837.
In 1857, he was elected lieutenant governor of the state but lost re-election in 1859 to Ed Clark, a Unionist. Nevertheless, Lubbock was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1860. He and other southern delegates clashed with northern delegates over the conciliatory platform they pushed to preserve the Union. The Democratic Party fractured, and a convention of southern Democrats, chaired by Lubbock, pushed their own candidate, Vice President John Breckinridge, over the national Democratic candidate, Stephen A. Douglas.
In the meantime, Thomas Lubbock was an ardent secessionist and campaigned for years for secession. Once Texas seceded in 1861, he went to Virginia to enlist in the Confederate Army, fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. He saw many battles and died at a Kentucky hospital in 1862 as a colonel at age 44.
Ed Clark became governor in 1861 after then-governor Sam Houston was forced from office. That fall, Lubbock challenged his old foe Clark in the gubernatorial election. Lubbock won by a scant 124-vote margin.
As governor, the Civil War was the focus of Francis Lubbock’s administration. He was an outspoken defender of the Confederacy and the draft. He even pushed for drafting non-citizens into the army as well. He attempted to increase trade with Mexico, even offering to trade United States bonds held by Texas and cotton for weapons. Lubbock attempted to spur defense manufacturing in Texas, to little effect. The chaotic whirlwind of Civil War politics consumed his administration, and he declined to run for re-election in 1863.
Lubbock enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age of 46 and was made a lieutenant colonel. He helped organize supplies and troops for the defense of Louisiana during the 1864 Red River campaign and served on the staff of several generals. In August 1864, Lubbock was appointed as a military aide to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He went to Virginia to update Davis on activities west of the Mississippi River. This voyage was made even more difficult with the Union naval blockade of the South and that Union forces now controlled the Mississippi River, cutting the Confederacy in half. Lubbock spent the next several months in Richmond, watching the Confederacy disintegrate as Union forces encircled the city and laid siege to it.
The Union Army broke through Confederate lines in April 1865, and the Confederate government fled, Lubbock included. Davis, Lubbock and a number of others headed south in a mad flight to avoid capture and to try to keep their government alive. Several days later, Lubbock was captured in Georgia. He was held at an army prison in Delaware where he awaited his fate. After eight months, he was released as part of an amnesty program and returned to Texas.
In 1876, the Texas legislature organized Lubbock County in West Texas in honor of Thomas Lubbock. Its namesake city was organized a few years later and a century later would grow to a city of more than a quarter of a million residents. The surviving Lubbock Brother, Francis, continued to piece his life back together after the Civil War and Reconstruction and eventually re-entered politics. He served as state treasurer from 1878 to 1891.
Francis Lubbock died quietly at his home in Austin in 1905 at age 89.
Ken Bridges is a Texas native, writer and history professor. He can be reached at email@example.com.