William R. Shannon, state legislator, son of George Shannon, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on January 15, 1825. His father had been with the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803-04. Both of Shannon’s parents died in Missouri, his mother in 1833, his father in 1836. Shannon graduated from Belmont Institute in Ohio and studied law under his uncle, Wilson Shannon, who was governor of Ohio for two terms and minister to Mexico under President John Tyler. William Shannon fought as a volunteer in the Mexican War.qv He traveled for several years after that conflict and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1849. In 1853 he came to Texas and stayed a few weeks in Dallas County before settling in what became Johnson County. Shannon’s name was on the petition requesting that a new county be formed in 1854. That same year he married Nannie Sweatt of Ellis County. They had four children. While residing in Johnson County, Shannon had farmed and raised stock. He owned farmland, slaves, and a residence in the county seat, Buchanan. He began his political career in 1857 with election as a Democrat to the Texas House of Representatives of the Seventh Legislature. Shannon served as chairman of the Committee on Private Land Claims and was reelected in 1859. In 1861 he resigned to organize a cavalry unit for the Confederacy. He became captain of the Rock Creek Guards, a company that was eventually absorbed into Parsons’s Brigade.qv After several years of war service he was elected to the Tenth Legislature to complete the unexpired term in the House caused by the death of John H. Prince in 1864. Shannon was elected to his first state Senate seat in 1866 from Johnson County and the surrounding area. He moved to Weatherford in 1867 and after several years resumed his political career by serving the Twenty-third Senatorial District in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth legislatures (1878-82) and the Twentieth District in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth legislatures (1882-86). During his tenure from Parker County he chaired the Internal Improvements Committee and served as president pro tem. Shannon also held an office at the Democratic state convention of 1884 and was on the Platform and Resolutions Committee. Before the end of his life he moved from Texas to California; the date and cause of his death are unknown.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: William DeRyee and R. E. Moore, The Texas Album of the Eighth Legislature, 1860 (Austin: Miner, Lambert, and Perry, 1860). E. H. Loughery, Personnel of the Texas State Government for 1885 (Austin: Snyder, 1885). A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1892). Henry Smythe, Historical Sketch of Parker County and Weatherford (St. Louis: Lavat, 1877; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1973).

Richard L. Elam

The Handbook of Texas Online is a joint project of The General Libraries at the University of  Texas.