MENEFEE, AGNES SUTHERLAND (1794 ~ 1859). Agnes Sutherland Menefee, wife of William Christian Menefee, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Virginia, possibly Pittsylvania County, on August 22, 1794, to John Sutherland, a captain in the American Revolutionary War, and Agnes Shelton. She was the eighth of nine children.
In 1805, Captain Sutherland moved his family west to Tennessee, where they settled on the Clinch River. At the age of 23, Agnes married William Christian Menefee on December 18, 1817. Following William's admittance to the Tennessee Bar, the Menefees, and their four children, Sarah, Thomas Shelton, John L., and Talitha Ann, and members of both of their families, moved to Alabama around 1824, and settled in Morgan County.
While there, William renewed his friendship with his former teacher, Sam Houston. It is believed that this friendship was what led the family to move to Texas. In 1829, with his brother, Thomas, Agnes' brother, George, and several other Morgan County men, William set out to investigate Texas' possibilities.
After arriving in Brazoria, Agnes' brother, George, on February 19, 1830, entered into a contract with Stephen F. Austin for land for himself and the other Morgan County men. They selected land in Austin's Third Colony in a section called the Twenty Border League, along the Navidad River in present day Jackson County.
After returning to Alabama, the Menefees and Sutherlands made the overland trip to Texas. By this time, William and Agnes had another three children, William, George, and Quinn Morton. The families set out for Texas on October 30, 1830, and finally arrived at their new home on the Navidad River on December 9.
Very little of Agnes' life has been recorded, but it is believed that, like most women of her time, she supported her husband, maintained their home, and cared for the children. Their last child, Elizabeth Frances, was born in Egypt, Texas in 1833.
As Texas' struggles with Mexico continued to grow, the Menefees and Sutherlands found themselves heavily involved in the politics and skirmishes leading up to the war. As tensions further mounted, the men in Agnes' life left her to care for the children and William's vast agricultural holdings.
In the spring of 1836, as word of the Alamo and the Goliad Massacre spread, many of the colonists panicked and began moving north and into Louisiana, to avoid the approaching Mexican Army. This movement was called the Runaway Scrape. Agnes was forced to take part in this as well. William, who was a delegate to the Convention of 1836, where he signed the Declaration of Independence, was unable to personally see to his family's safety. Making arrangements with Major Andrew Northington, Agnes, the children and the other settlers of the area, were safely evacuated.
After the Revolution, William, who served in the Republic of Texas Congress and made an unsuccessfully bid for Vice President, moved to Fayette County. He and Agnes settled south of LaGrange, near Flatonia. On February 28, 1859, at the age of 64, Agnes passed away. She was buried in Pine Springs Cemetery in Oso, the community that arose around the Menefee's land. Some 16 years later, William passed away on October 29, 1875, and was buried next to his beloved wife.
As a part of Texas' Centennial celebration in 1936, William and Agnes Menefee, along with numerous other Texas heroes, were reinterred in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin on Sunday, March 22, 1936. The State of Texas erected a headstone over their graves honoring their lives and services.
Information taken from: biographical materials provided by Menefee descendants, Elise P. Kidd and John M. Wilcox.