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Joseph Burton Dibrell (1855-1934)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1911-1913

Joseph Burton Dibrell was born December 1, 1855 in Whitley County, Kentucky. The family relocated to Seguin, the county seat of Guadalupe County, Texas, the month of Joseph's second birthday; except for brief intervals, Seguin would remain Joseph Dibrell's home throughout his life. After attending the common schools of Guadalupe County, Dibrell attended Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia, graduating in 1879. Following his graduation he returned to Seguin, where he taught school for ten months and undertook private law studies.

Dibrell was admitted to the bar in 1882 and began a career as a lawyer, statesman, and jurist. He was married the same year, and the couple had four children. Dibrell was a state senator from the Twenty-first District from 1894 to 1902, and was president pro tem of the Senate in 1897. Dibrell served as an associate justice of the Texas supreme court from 1911 to 1913.

In 1898 Dibrell's wife died. He remarried, and three children were born to this marriage. His second wife, Ella Peyton Dancy Dibrell, was a prominent woman in her own right, active in civic affairs and instrumental in supporting the arts. She co-founded the Texas Fine Arts Association and purchased the sculptor Elisabet Ney's studio following Ney's death in 1908, with plans for its future use as a museum. Both the TFAA and the Elisabet Ney Museum remain active Austin arts organizations. Ella Peyton Dancy Dibrell was also distinguished as the first woman to have the state flag flown at half-mast over the Texas capitol following her death in 1920.

Joseph B. Dibrell died April 11, 1934 in Seguin, and was buried in San Geronimo Cemetery.


Texas Federation of Women's Clubs. "Dibrell Administration, 1907-1909." (visited August 21, 2006).

White, W. W. Dibrell, Joseph Burton, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001).

Extended bibliography

Boswell, Harry James. American Blue Book, Texas Attorneys (Minneapolis, Minnesota: H. James Boswell & Sons, 1926).

Speer, Ocie. Texas Jurists 104 (Austin, Texas: the author, 1936).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 60, page 18