Glimpse of the Past, October 30, 2014

The Tarlton Family -- Legends in the Legal Profession

The Hillsboro Reporter, Thursday, October 28, 2014

One of the most recognizable landmarks in Hillsboro is the historic Tarlton House at 211 North Pleasant Street. This architectural gem was constructed by local attorney Green Duke Tarlton in 1895, and is a showplace for Victorian architecture.

But who were the Tarltons? The family lived in Maryland in 1800 and moved to South Carolina, Mobile [Alabama], and Louisiana. By 1846 Dr. John Tarlton was owner of a sugarcane plantation in St. Mary's Parish, Louisiana, and it was there that his son Benjamin Dudley Tarlton was born in 1849, his son Green Duke Tarlton in 1852, and his daughter Fannetta Tarlton in 1864. The War Between the States (The Civil War) brought major changes to the sugar industry in Louisiana, and plantation owners suffered serious economic losses [due to slavery being abolished]. 

After the War, Dr. Tarlton resumed his medical practice, but was attracted to the new economic opportunities in Texas and Hill County. The 1860 census of Hill County reported 3,653 residents, but that number grew to 7,453 in 1870 and to 16,554 in 1880. After a brief stay in Waxahachie, Dr. Tarlton and his family located to Hillsboro in 1873. Dr. Tarlton died in 1882 and is buried in the Waxahachie City Cemetery by the side of his wife.

Green Duke Tarlton graduated from LSU in 1872 and soon was admitted to the State Bar of Texas. He practiced law in the upstairs of the Tarlton Block (SE corner of Waco and Franklin south of the alley) he had constructed on the east side of the square in Hillsboro c. 1884. He also built the Tarlton Building at 110 East Franklin Street in 1892, and today it is home to R&R Fitness. Green Duke Tarlton was a lay reader in St. Mary's Episcopal Church, and enjoyed a successful law practice in addition to owning the Tarlton Abstract Company. He died in 1931 and is buried in the Old Hillsboro Cemetery.

Benjamin Dudley Tarlton left his law practice in Louisiana and moved to Waxahachie in 1875, but he practiced law in Hillsboro from 1876 to 1891. His first partner was Judge Jo Abbott, and later he practiced with his brother, Green Duke Tarlton, and his brother-in-law, William Chalfant Morrow. In 1880 B.D. Tarlton was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, and he served again in the Nineteenth Legislature in 1884. From 1882-84 he served on the Executive committee of the Democratic Party of Texas. In 1891 Governor James S. Hogg appointed Tarlton to the Commission on Appeals, and he served until his election in 1892 as Chief Justice of the Court of Civil Appeals for the Fort Worth district. He remained on the bench until 1899, when he began private practice in Fort Worth. In 1904, he was appointed Professor of Law at The University of Texas, and he served until his death in 1919. The Tarlton Law Library at UT is named in his honor. Judge Tarlton is buried in Fort Worth. In 1890 Benjamin Dudley Tarlton built his home at 227 East Franklin, and the property today is home to State Farm and is known as the Turk-Maier House.

Caption: Hillsboro attorney Green Duke Tarlton built his landmark home at 211 North Pleasant Street in 1895. The home is noted for hand-carved mantles and stained glass windows. Original outbuildings included a stable and coach house. The home is one of the best-known historic properties in Hillsboro, and in recent years has served the public as a bed-and-breakfast.

Glimpse Tarlton