William Whitaker Reed
|William Whitaker Reed|
January 23, 1816|
Bedford County, Tennessee, USA
|Died||August 21, 1891
Bell County, Texas
|Occupation||Texas pioneer; Sheriff|
|Spouse(s)||Emeline Cobb Reed (married 1841-1890, her death)|
James Michael Reed (born 1842)
Born in Bedford County near Nashville, Tennessee, Reed in 1833 traveled with his parents, Michael and Martha Reed, to Natchitoches, Louisiana, the launching point in the preparation for immigration to colonial Texas. They found, however, that Anglo immigration had been suspended by the government of Mexico. Furthermore, the area in which the Reeds planned to settle was in dispute between partisans of the empresarios Sterling C. Robertson and Stephen F. Austin. Nevertheless, Reed and his brother-in-law, William Crain Sparks, explored territory in what is now Bell County south of Temple, Texas. The two selected lands along the south bank of the Little River for various family members near what is now the community of Salado. Robertson gained control of the colony in 1834 while Austin was imprisoned on false charges in Mexico City.
When the Texas Revolution began in 1835, Reed joined the Army of the Republic of Texas and served under Captain L. H. Mabbett. In April 1836, Reed, who was just 20 years of age, was among those who dug the mass grave to hold the burned and charred remains of the 344 men under Colonel James Fannin who were massacred on orders of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at Goliad west of Victoria, Texas.
Homesteading in Texas
After the war, Reed returned to his homestead. In 1841, he wed the former Emeline Cobb (1825-1890), the seventh of eleven children of Stancil Cobb (1792-1851) and the former Mila Reed (1793-1864). The couple had ten children. The area was settled, deserted, then resettled several times by the founding pioneers. In 1850, five years after Texas statehood Reed participated in the election of a commissioners' court to organize Bell County. That same year, he was elected the first county sheriff and served two terms.
The house which Reed built in 1850 was restored and relocated in 2008 as the Salado Visitor's Center. The structure is made of hand-hewn oak logs cut from the bottoms of the Little River. Larger than most frontier cabins, it is designed in the dogtrot style, with two main rooms separated by an open breezeway. Fireplaces made of native limestone provided heat and cooking. The house was windowless except for small openings from which to fire a gun. It was designed for both shelter and security at a time when attacks from Indians, was a recurring threat. Through successive generations, members of the Reed family protected and preserved the 1850 homestead and made possible its current use.
Reed died at the age of seventy-five a year after the passing of his wife. They are interred on Reed family land.