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Hon. John L. Sheppard    

JOHN L. SHEPPARD. John L. Sheppard, who died at Eureka Springs, Ark., of Bright’s disease, October 11, 1902, and who has been succeeded as United States Congressman from the Fourth Texas district by his son Morris Sheppard, was born at Blufton, Chambers county, Ala., April 13, 1854; was brought to Texas in 1858 by his mother, who settled on a small farm in that part of Titus county now embraced in Morris county; was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law at Daingerfield in 1879; was elected district attorney of the Fifth Judicial District in 1882 and, by re-election, filled the position for six years; was elected district judge in 1888, and, without opposition for the Democratic nomination served as such for eight years; was temporary chairman of the State Democratic convention in 1892; was a delegate to the bimetallic convention at Chicago in 1893; was a delegate to the national Democratic convention in 1896 and one of the committee appointed by that body to notify Hon. W. J. Bryan of his nomination for the presidency, and was elected to Congress in 1898 and 1900, and renominated in 1902; but, dying before the election, his son was nominated and elected in his stead. Of his children four sons (Morris, Clifton, Paul, and John L., Jr.), and three daughters (Mrs. William T. Killnan of Sulphur Springs, and two unmarried), are living.

At memorial services held by the national House of Representatives, January 25, 1903, the following resolutions, introduced by Congressman Henry, of Texas, were adopted:
“Resolved, That, in pursuance of the special order heretofore adopted, ‘the House proceed to pay tribute to the memory of Hon. John L. Sheppard, late a member of the House of Representatives from the State of Texas.

“Resolved, That, as a particular mark of respect to ‘the memory of deceased and in recognition of his eminent abilities as a distinguished public servant, the House, at the conclusion of the memorial proceedings of this day, shall stand adjourned.

“Resolved, That the clerk communicate these resolutions to the Senate. “Resolved, That the clerk be, and is hereby, instructed to send a copy of these resolutions to the family of the deceased.”
Judge Henry then delivered an address, in which he stated the main facts in the life of his deceased colleague, spoke of his Christian character, abilities, and public services, and pronounced a eulogium. In speaking of Judge Sheppard’s personal appearance, he said: “My first recollection of him * * * is when I knew him as a strong and handsome young man just beginning the practice of law. He was of robust and well rounded figure, weighing nearly 200 pounds, and I then thought him one of the most superb specimens of physical manhood I had ever seen. He was strong, handsome, intrepid, and magnetic.

One look into his manly face convinced anyone of his unswerving honesty and the dauntless courage which characterized his every deed.”

Of his record as district attorney and district judge, he said, in part:

“I never knew him to persecute, or take an. advantage of a defendant or his counsel. He scorned the abuse of place and power. He relied exclusively upon the law and facts in every case. He resorted to no wiles or tricks. * * * His acts as district attorney * * * were characterized with fairness, justice, and mercy. * * * Day after day, week after week, and month after month, I have heard him announce himself ready for trial with the State’s cases and proceed without the least evidence of fatigue or exhaustion. His physical strength and unflagging mental powers in that direction were marvelous.

* * * I have heard him rise to the loftiest heights of fervid eloquence. At times he thrilled his auditors and the jury with feelings that only the truly eloquent can arouse. * * * I never knew a better prosecuting officer.

* * *During his eight years of service as district judge he was reversed but once, in a criminal case, by the appellate court. In this case he was not reversed on a proposition of law, but because he refused to permit a juror to impeach his verdict. Representing the State in the appellate court at that time, it was my opinion that the higher court, and not he, committed error. It is most probable that no nisi prius judge has ever equaled this conspicuous and remarkable record.

* * * His life went out not as sinks the sun beneath the western horizon, but as the morning star which melts away into the light of heaven.”

The Fifty-seventh Congress appropriated $5000 to be paid to Mrs. Sheppard.

In the House of Representatives of the Twenty-eighth Legislature of Texas the following resolution was offered by Messrs. Ragland and Napier, January 17, 1903, and adopted by a unanimous rising vote:

“Resolved, That the House of Representatives of Texas mourns the deaths of Hons. John L. Sheppard and R. C. De Graffenreid, late members of Congress from Texas, and that we extend to their families our profound sympathy.

“That a page of to-day’s journal, suitably inscribed, be set apart for the publication of this testimonial of our appreciation for the distinguished dead.”

Judge Sheppard’s rise to important political preferment was the result of a recognition of his moral worth, intellectual force, and fitness by those who had known him from his boyhood, and who, as his constituents, never had cause to regret the faith they reposed in him; whose prophecies that he would acquit himself with distinction and perform patriotic labors of value to the country, were amply verified.

His son, Morris Sheppard, is one of the youngest men ever elected to the United Stated Congress. He was born May 28, 1875, and graduated from the University of Texas in 1895.] He seems to have inherited, in a liberal measure, his father’s popularity and talents, and it is the hope of all that he will live to accomplish achievements upon which to base solid and enduring fame. The State having been redistricted by the Twenty-seventh Legislature (Act September 6, 1901), he represents the First District, Bowie, his home county, having been made a part of that district.

Year Book for Texas: party conventions, election returns, inauguration of Governor Lanham and Lieutenant-Governor Neal, legislative work, public officials and current reports of departments and state institutions, important events, obituaries of distinguished dead, industrial development, statistics, biographical sketches, and historical manuscripts never before published. Raines, Cadwell Walton, Austin, Tex.: Gammel-Statesman Pub. Co., 1903, pages 160-162. View image of this page on line.  Search Hundreds of 1880s-1920s Texas History Books for biographies and historical information on your ancestors.  View the book page images on line and print them out for your genealogy file!  Try the family history collection for free for 14 days!