Isaac W. Stephens, judge, son of Mark and Elizabeth (Greer) Stephens, was born in Bledsoe County, Tennessee, on November 15, 1850. He studied at Washington and Lee University while Robert E. Leeqv was university president and graduated with a B.A. in 1872. After graduation Stephens taught at the Campbell Institute in Carthage, Tennessee, and read law at the office of Judge E. L. Gardenhire in Sparta, Tennessee. He earned his license to practice law and, after declining an offer to enter into partnership with Gardenhire, moved in 1874 to Weatherford, Texas. There he began teaching as an assistant to Professor S. E. Burkhead and opened a law office with John Simpson six months after his arrival. From 1874 through 1892 Stephens shared his Weatherford law offices with such notable lawyers as A. J. Hood, Sr. and Jr., W. W. Davis, W. E. Prince, H. M. Chapman, future governor S. W. T. Lanham,qv and B. M. Stephens. In addition to his duties as a lawyer, Stephens served as Parker county attorney from 1876 to 1880. On November 25, 1878, he married Jennie Martin, who had moved to Weatherford from Georgia after the Civil War.qv All of their six daughters were born in Parker County. The Stephens family belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Weatherford. When the state convention of 1892 met in Dallas and organized a Court of Civil Appeals for the Second District, Governor James Stephen Hoggqv appointed Stephens to be one of the first associate justices to the newly formed court. Stephens was formally elected to the court in November of that same year and was reelected continuously until April of 1908, when he retired from the bench. He moved to Fort Worth in 1906 and entered the firm of Stephens and Miller upon his retirement from the court. He retained substantial properties in Parker, Hood, and Johnson counties. Stephens retired from active practice in 1930 and turned his full attention to the supervision of his 2,000-acre ranch in Hood and Johnson counties. On July 17, 1945, he died at his home in Fort Worth.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Dallas Morning News, July 18, 1945. History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Tarrant and Parker Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1895). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]).
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