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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Tarrant, Edward H[enry?]

by Joseph L. Price, 1996; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, January 2023

1796 or 1799–2 Aug. 1858

Edward H[enry?] Tarrant, soldier, and Texas official, was born in North Carolina, probably in Caswell County, as one Henry Tarrant was active there between 1799 and 1801. Manlove Tarrant served as ensign to captain with the Second North Carolina Battalion from 1776 until his retirement on 1 June 1778. When Edward Tarrant was young his family moved to Tennessee. During the War of 1812 he joined a militia unit in Kentucky for a six-month enlistment and attained the rank of corporal. Discharged on May 20, 1815, he returned to Tennessee and studied law. By the early 1820s he was living in Henry County near the Kentucky state line, where he served as colonel of the local militia, organized the first Masonic lodge in the county seat, and by 1827 was sheriff. In 1829 he was a resident of Henderson County, where he held minor public office.

Tarrant was among the Tennessee volunteers who went to Texas in 1835, ostensibly to support the fight for independence, but no record has been found to substantiate any service by him. Nevertheless, he received 4,605 1/2 acres of land in Red River County in the northeastern part of the state, on March 2, 1836, simply by virtue of the fact that he was residing in Texas at the time of independence. He soon established his family, the people he enslaved, and hired hands there.

Tarrant was elected a member of the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas, serving between October 17th and November 11, 1837; he resigned to command troops on the frontier charged with suppressing American Indian resistance to colonization. As a brigadier general he led his men to victory in the Battle of Village Creek in 1841, thereby opening new territory to settlement. Tarrant County, of which Fort Worth is now the county seat, was named in his honor. He also was a member of the statehood convention in 1845. Following service in the War with Mexico, Tarrant again was elected to the state legislature, serving in the third and fourth sessions, and to the position of chief justice of Red River County.

Retiring to his plantation near Italy in Ellis County, Tarrant spent his final years. At the time of his death he happened to be at Fort Belknap, where he also owned property, but was buried at his plantation. In 1928 the Daughters of the Republic of Texas had his remains removed to Pioneer Rest Cemetery in Fort Worth.


Biographical Directory of Texas Conventions and Congresses (1941).

Robert L. and Pauline H. Jones, "Edward H. Tarrant," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (January 1966).

Katharine Kerr Kendall, comp., Caswell County, North Carolina, Deed Books, 1777–1817 (1989).

Texas Young Lawyers Association, Young Lawyers at Texas Independence (1986).

Walter P. Webb, ed., The Handbook of Texas, vol. 2 (1953).


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