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Asa Hoxei Willie (1829-1899)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1866-1867
Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1882-1888

Asa Hoxie Willie was born October 11, 1829 in Washington, Georgia. His father, who died when Asa was four years old, was a Vermont native; his mother was a Massachusetts Quaker. Willie received his early education in private schools near his Georgia home.

In February 1846, at the age of sixteen, Asa Willie left home and moved to his uncle's home in Independence, Texas. In 1848 he undertook legal studies in the Brenham office of his older brother, James Willie, who served in the First and Second Texas Legislatures. In 1849 Asa Willie was admitted to the bar by a special act of the Texas Legislature, as he had not yet reached the age of twenty-one.

Willie spent the following three decades practicing law and serving in public positions. After practicing law with his brother for several years, he served as district attorney for the Third Judicial District from 1852-54, and then returned to private practice. In 1857 he moved to Austin for a year to assist his brother, who had been elected Texas attorney general. In 1858 he relocated to Brenham, where he went into practice with Col. Alexander Pope, his sister's husband. Willie married the following year, and he and his wife eventually produced ten children.

When the Civil War broke out, Willie joined the Confederate Army and served as a major in the Texas Infantry. During the war he was captured and spent nine months as a prisoner of war.

In June 1866 Willie was elected associate justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, but he and the other justices, along with other state officials, were removed as "impediments to Reconstruction" when Texas came under military authority in 1867. Willie moved to Galveston and formed a law partnership with Judge T. F. Crosby and later, with Judge C. L. Cleveland. In 1872 Willie was elected to the U.S. Congress, serving one term in the House of Representatives. He declined a run for reelection, and returned to private practice in 1875. He served as Galveston city attorney from 1875-76.

Willie was elected chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1882 in what was then the largest majority of votes ever received by a political candidate in Texas. He served in the position until retiring in 1888. He died in Galveston March 16, 1899 at the age of sixty-nine and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery there.

Notable opinions

Belo & Co. v. Wren.

McKamey v. Thorp.

Dillon v. Kaufman & Runge.

Ryan v. Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company.

Nichols v. Dibrell.

Sources

Cutrer, Thomas W. Willie, Asa Hoxie, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated February 18, 2005). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/WW/fwi43.html

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 295-301, 208-210 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

In Memoriam, 92 Texas reports xiii-xvii (1899).

Extended bibliography

Bentley, H. L. The Texas Legal Directory 40 (Austin, Texas: Democratic Statesman Office, 1877).

Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas 94 (New York, New York: Southern Publishing Co., 1880).

Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas 904 (Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey & Co., 1889).

Brown, John Henry. Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas 382 (Austin, Texas: L. E. Daniell, 189-?).

Davenport, Jewette Harbert. The History of the Supreme Court of the State of Texas 85 (Austin, Texas: Southern Law Book Publishers, 1917).

Johnson, Francis White. 2 A History of Texas and Texans 1119 (Chicago, Illinois & New York, New York: The American Historical Society, 1914).

Lynch, James Daniel. The Bench and Bar of Texas 13, 64, 295, 533, 608 (St. Louis, Missouri: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1885).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 46 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

The Encyclopedia of the New West 138. William S. Speer, ed. (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing Co., 1881).

Wharton, Clarence Ray. 5 Texas Under Many Flags 148 (Chicago, Illinois & New York, New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1930).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 48, page 449
Volume 60, page 17
Volume 62, page 143, 154
Volume 66, page 201

In Memoriam, 92 Texas reports xiii (1899).