Biography of

Thomas R. H. Poteet

By: Bobby W. Smith  4th Grt-Grandson

Paris, Texas

City’s  Namer

Photo Courtesy of Bobby W. Smith

It is a fact that Thomas R. H. Poteet, is accredited with suggesting the new county seat name of Lamar County, Texas to be  “ Paris “. He was on a naming committee along with Dr. William T. F. Cole, and they both agreed to the name “ Paris “.  The Lamar County Historical Society accredits Thomas R. H. Poteet for suggesting this name.  Thomas R. H. Poteet, who was an early settler in what was Pinhook, Red River Valley of what is now Texas in the late era of 1830’s.

Organization of Lamar county was authorized by act of Texas Congress December 17, 1840, and organization was made early in 1841, the first court being held in George Wright's store house in the present corporate limits of Paris February 22, 1841.

Taken from Backward Glances by Alexander White Neville, Volume Two, edited by Skipper Steely - Column dated March 15, 1932

Thomas R. H. Poteet, was born the 15th October 1805 , in the area of what is now Jonesville Lee County, Virginia, to Thomas Richard, and Jane Poteet. In 1806 his father sold his property and took the family to Spring Creek Area, of Overton County, Tennessee just to the south of Livingston, Tennessee. Thomas R. H. Poteet grew up in this area with his brothers and sisters and becoming well educated, and later is found on several land deed transactions in Eastern Tennessee, and acting power of attorney. Like most family members he was a farmer, and he was a Store Merchant as well as being a Postmaster by trade.

In about 1833-1834 Thomas R. H. Poteet married the daughter of Epps Gibbons, and Nancy Calvert Armstrong Gibbons, Miss Susan Epps Gibbons, in probably Overton County, Tennessee, for both families were in this county at this time era, all though no marriage records for the county can be found. The time calculated from the birth of oldest son Fenton Champ Poteet born the 25th December 1834 probably in Overton County, Tennessee.

In 1838-1839, Thomas R. H. Poteet, was encouraged by his father-in-law Epps Gibbons, to come to Madison County, Tennessee , (today Jackson, Tennessee area)  to join up with him and the Chisum Clan to sojourn to the area known as Red River Valley  (Texas), for there was land to be had there, and it was  good fertile ground to farm.

The first brick court house in Paris. was built by Epps Gibbons and Claiborne Chisum in the center of the square, 1846-47.

Taken from Backward Glances by Alexander White Neville, Volume Two, edited by Skipper Steely - Column dated March 15, 1932

Thomas R. H. Poteet, made the journey with his wife and four children, to the area of what is known to be Pinhook, with his father-in-law and the Chisum Clan and arrived in late 1830’s. Claiborne Chisum who was already settled in the area welcomed the families upon their arrival. Claiborne Chisum was acquainted with the early settler of the area, George Washington Wright who owned a great deal of land in the area, and would later donate 50 acres of his land, (the center of it being in the downtown square at the location of the water fountain plaza today). George Wright also owned a store there, and by knowing Claiborne Chisum , Poteet was able to secure a job from George W. Wright at his store, this would be the beginning of a better life for him and his family.

The first store was kept by James Johnson, near where is now the corner of South Main and Sherman streets. George Wright had his soon after near where is now the northwest corner of the Plaza.

Claiborne Chisum's residence was the first in what is now the corporate limits of Paris, but George Wright's was the first in the first corporate limits.

Taken from Backward Glances by Alexander White Neville, Volume Two, edited by Skipper Steely - Column dated March 15, 1932

As the passing years went by Thomas R. H. Poteet, ran for the Office of County Treasurer and won.

No doubt encouraged by his friends George Wright and members of the Chisum Clan. Thomas R. H. Poteet on the 19th of August 1860, had written a letter to his brother Richard Pembroke Poteet, back in Overton County, Tennessee of him winning the race (“ I , was elected Treasurer of this County on Monday the 6th inst. For 2 years after being in 4 years. I had three competitors. The vote stood Thos Poteet, Whig 361, Tudor, Democrate 325, Farrer, Whig 300, Griffith, Democrate 152,the office is $300 to $400 per annum”. THOMAS R. .H. POTEET) I have a copy of this letter in my Possession. He served as County Treasurer several terms and through the War between The States (Civil War). Thomas R. H. Poteet, had three sons Fenton Champ Poteet, Veteran of Co. C. 29th Texas Cavalry, Thomas Pembroke Poteet, Veteran of Co. F. 14th Texas Cavalry and fought under General Braxton Bragg in the Trans Mississippi Campaign, Samuel Henry Poteet, Veteran of Co. C. 29th Texas Cavalry, and two son-in-laws Captain Moses Oliver Roberts, Veteran of Co. F. 8th Missouri Infantry, Joseph Wright Deweese, Veteran of  Co. C. 29th Texas Cavalry, all whom returned safely home after the war.

Thomas R. H. Poteet received a Headright Patent of 640 acres of land from Anson Jones President of The Republic of Texas , Land Office on the 13th of June 1845. The Poteet home from 1845 was in a Log Mansion on Honey Creek, (at  Biardstown Community  Southeast of Paris) about a mile north of where it poured its water into Hickory Creek." the place being about a mile this side (west) of the Old Finnyike Swimming Hole ". The place was slightly northeast of the Antioch Cemetery where Thomas R. H. Poteet and several family members are buried.  This is where he and Susan, his wife raised their children: Fenton Champ Poteet, Thomas Pembroke Poteet , Nancy J. Poteet, Mary A. Poteet, Paralee Daisy Poteet, Samuel Henry Poteet, Susannah Epps Poteet, Tennessee Florence Poteet , Hester A.R. Poteet, Miranda Clemintine Poteet , James Edmond Monroe Poteet, and Epps Gibbons Poteet.

Thomas R. H. Poteet’s, full name I believe was Thomas Richard Horn Poteet, he did have a nephew who was his  name sake, and is buried in Overton County, Tennessee. He was known by as Tommy, Uncle Tommy, by many in the Paris, Lamar County, Texas area.

My 4th Great-Grandfather lived out his life in Southeastern part of Lamar County, Texas,

in the Community of Biardstown, until his death on the 9th  of January 1875.

He did indeed leave a legacy of descendants that are found in several states, from sea to shining sea. I’m very proud to be a descendant of his, and I love going back to the community where he lived and died. I often think of him, and what it would be like if  I could visit with him for a short time, so that we could share stories. The Poteet Family were, and are very interesting folks and as far back as Maryland in 1600’s, where involved any many account’s of history and government affairs, they served their country in battles of war, as professors, teachers, and other interesting professions.