Thomas Stevenson Drew

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Thomas Stevenson Drew
Thomas Stevenson Drew - Gouverneur von Arkansas.jpg
3rd Governor of Arkansas
In office
November 5, 1844 – January 10, 1849
Preceded by Samuel Adams
Succeeded by Richard C. Byrd
as Acting Governor
Personal details
Born (1802-08-25)August 25, 1802
Wilson County, Tennessee
Died (aged 76)
Lipan, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Cinderella Bettis

Brother Richard Maxwell Drew
Nephew Richard Cleveland Drew

Great-nephew Harmon Caldwell Drew

Thomas Stevenson Drew (August 25, 1802 – January 1879) was the third elected governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas.


Drew was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, and moved with his family to north Louisiana and then to southern Arkansas in 1818. He worked as a traveling salesman and schoolteacher. Drew settled in Clark County in southern Arkansas.

In 1823, Drew was appointed Clark County Clerk. In 1827, he moved to Pocohontas, Arkansas, where he married Cinderella Bettis, daughter of the prosperous founder of that town, Ransom Bettis. His father-in-law gave the newlyweds 800 acres (3.2 km2) of bottomland in Cherokee Bay near the town of Biggers in what is now Randolph County, then Lawrence County. The Drews prospered, having a plantation and twenty African American slaves.

In 1832, Drew was elected judge of Lawrence County. In 1835, Drew and Bettis convinced the Arkansas Territorial Legislature to create Randolph County from Lawrence County. In 1836, Drew and Bettis held an infamous free barbecue complete with free liquor for the entire county in Pocahontas (then known as Bettis Bluff). The next day, the grateful attendees chose Pocahontas as the county seat in an upset election over the more populated community of Columbia. That same year, Drew gave the county land in downtown Pocahontas where a courthouse was constructed.

Political career[edit]

In 1836, Drew was chosen as a delegate to the Arkansas Constitutional Convention. He was elected Governor in 1844 as a Democrat,[1] having secured the backing of the Conway-Sevier faction that had ruled Arkansas since territorial days. His administration concentrated on the state's financial solvency and attempted to correct the state's bad credit as well as disunity within Democratic ranks. Under Drew, Arkansas became the first southern state to declare Thanksgiving Day as a state holiday. At his wife's urging, Drew secured passage of legislation protecting a woman's property which she brought into a marriage as her own separate entity, distinct from the husband's holdings.

Though Drew was the third person to be elected governor, he was the fourth in office because his predecessor, Samuel Adams, had served as acting governor during much of 1844, having gained the office through the previous position as president of the Arkansas State Senate.[2]

Drew was re-elected governor in 1848. The next year, he dispatched a militia to Marion County to suppress the Tutt-Everett War. Drew only served a year of his second term. He resigned in protest of the $1,500 annual salary, then provided for the governor, was inadequate. He retired from politics and concentrated on his own financial holdings.

In 1860, he was living in Sebastian County near Fort Smith in western Arkansas.[3] He moved to Weatherford west of Fort Worth, Texas, and later moved to Hood County, Texas, where he died in the community of Lipan.

Death and legacy[edit]

Drew was originally buried in the Old Baptist Cemetery in Lipan. In 1923, his remains were exhumed and reburied at the Masonic Cemetery in Pocahontas, Arkansas, alongside the graves of Bettis, Cinderella, and several of the Drew children.[4]

Later photo of Governor Drew

One of Drew's brothers, Richard Maxwell Drew, held several public offices in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, including that of state representative from 1848 until his death in 1850 at the age of twenty-eight.[5] Richard Cleveland Drew, R. M. Drew's son and hence a nephew of Thomas Drew, was a circuit court judge from Webster Parish, which was created in 1871 from neighboring Claiborne Parish.[6]

Drew County in southern Arkansas is named for Thomas S. Drew.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arkansas Governor Thomas Stevenson Drew". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  2. ^ "State of Arkansas Governor". Retrieved June 11, 2011. 
  3. ^ 1860 Arkansas Census
  4. ^ "Thomas Stevenson Drew". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 10, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2012" (PDF). Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Descendants of William Caldwell". Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  7. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 109. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel Adams
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Richard C. Byrd
Acting Governor