William Mitchell Varnell

Portrait of William Mitchell Varnell Portrait of William Mitchell Varnell Headstone Photograph

W.M. Varnell
March 9th 1871.
Full Name: William Mitchell Varnell
Location: Section:Republic Hill, Section 1 (C1)
Row:S  Number:6
Reason for Eligibility: Member, Constitutional Conventions of 1866 and 1868-69 
Birth Date: February 29, 1812 
Died: March 8, 1871 
Burial Date:  
Confederate Home Roster Information:
Birth Place: Tennessee 
VARNELL, WILLIAM M. (1812~1871) William M. Varnell, member of the Texas Constitutional Conventions of 1866 and 1868-69, was born in Loudon County, Tennessee on February 29, 1812, to Joseph and Mary Varnell.

Around 1816, the family emigrated to present day Alabama, where William later married Priscilla Jane Fulker on November 5, 1838, in Perry County, Alabama. That same year, the newlyweds moved to Hempstead County, Arkansas. By 1845, they settled in Gonzales County, Texas, but only stayed there two years before moving to Calhoun County. Still seeking a better opportunity, Varnell, in 1849, joined the gold rush and moved to California. By 1852, he was back in Texas and had settled in Indianola. Throughout the rest of his life, Varnell appears to have lived within the counties of Calhoun, Jackson, and Victoria, where he held numerous elected positions.

After the death of Priscilla, Varnell married Cybelle E. Fluker, Priscilla’s sister on February 12, 1857, in Calhoun County.

Often referred to as “Judge,” Varnell was elected on January 8, 1866, as a delegate to the 1866 Constitutional Convention that convened in Austin on February 7. Representing Calhoun, Victoria, Jackson and DeWitt Counties, he traveled to Austin, where he and the other delegates spent only 55 days creating a new constitution to send to the voters.

In February, 1868, Varnell was once again elected as a delegate from Calhoun, Victoria, Jackson, and DeWitt Counties to another Constitutional Convention. He was one of six delegates to serve in both conventions. The 1868-69 Constitutional Convention, no where near as proficient as the 1866 Convention, was marred by political maneuvering and partisan fighting. Lasting only 150 days, the delegates did not complete a constitution, and spent over $200,000.

Disgusted with the Convention, the resulting Constitution, and the Republican Party and leadership, Varnell decided to run for the Congress. His opponent was Edward Degener, a German-born Republican. Unsuccessful in his bid, Varnell returned to Calhoun County, where he was elected Inspector of Cattle and Hides. He took his oath of office on November 3, 1870.

While in Austin, Judge Varnell died of Typhoid Fever on March 9, 1871, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery.

Information taken from: Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin (from the earliest times to the close of 1875), Chapters XXX-XXXI. Robert L. Massey Family. “Henry Clay Koontz.” The History and Heritage of Victoria County. Vol. 2. Ed. The Victoria County Genealogical Society. Victoria, TX: Nortex Press, 2000. Rose, Victor. History of Victoria County: A republishing of the book most often known as Victor Rose’s History of Victoria. Ed. J. W. Petty, Jr. Victoria, TX: Book Mart, 1961.
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