Electric Scottland, Judge Ochiltree by
William Beck, Col. and congressman from Texas, moved from North Carolina in 1839. He settled in Nacogdoches where he became an attorney and judge. He was a prominent office holder in the Republic of Texas or Washington on the Brazos. He was instrumental in the state constitutional convention of 1845, and a member of the Texas legislature. He moved to Marshall, Harrison County Texas in 1859.
During his early career, Ochiltree was a member of the Whig party. In 1859, however, he ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a representative of the ultra-Southern wing of the Democratic party against John Reagan, whose opposition to reopening the slave trade had lost that group's support. In November, 1860, Ochiltree was active in local meetings that demanded that state leaders not submit to the election of Abraham Lincoln, arguing that his election threatened slavery and a loss to Southern equality in the Union. He ran as a secessionist for the state convention of February 1861 and was elected. As one of the best-known members of the convention, Ochiltree was chosen as a delegate to the Provisional Congress. Ochiltree was an active member, supporting measures that would be to the advantage of his state. Including the construction of fortifications at Sabine Pass, limiting the power of the central government to remove local militia forces from their state, and settling affairs with Indians along the Texas frontier. He also backed legislature designed to help local economy such as tax exemptions for railroads, the construction of new railroads from his territory back east, establishing ports of entry, suppression of import duties, and attempts to limit regulation restricting planters from freely marketing their cotton crops. He announced at an early date that he had no intention of serving in the regular Congress and gave up his seat when the Provisional Congress adjourned in February 1862.
Returning to Texas, he organized the 18th Texas Infantry and was elected its colonel..Ochiltree was with the unit until 1863 when he resigned his position because of ill health and returned to Jefferson where he practiced law.
Judge Ochiltree ran for Congress on a conservative ticket in 1866 but was defeated..He died at Marshall Texas December 27, 1867.
Judge Ochiltree had seen Texas, as an independent sovereign nation, as a prosperous State of the Union, as a gallant member of the confederacy and as a conquered province, by military rule. It is a pity that he did not live to see her rise like Thebes, from smoldering ashes clad in the robes of a new prosperity. During a period of thirty years, his name was closely connected with the history of Texas and she will preserve it as of one of her truest and most useful citizens. In social life, he was generous and kind, courteous and affable in his demeanor to all classes and attracted the regard of all who approached him. He was greatly beloved by his family, esteemed by his neighbors and universally revered by his fellow constituents.
Judge William Beck Ochiltree, a true Scot, should always be remembered by the Bench and Bar and never forgotten in American History.