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Wesley B. Ogden (1818-1896)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1870-1873
Chief Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1873-1874

Wesley B. Ogden was born December 16, 1818 in Monroe County, New York. His formal education consisted of studies at a local academy and one year at Brockport College. He then taught school in Summit County, Ohio. While teaching he read law, and was admitted to the bar in Ohio in 1845. He was married the same year, and he and his wife had three children. Ogden practiced law in Rochester, New York from 1847-1849. He suffered from tuberculosis and, seeking a healthier climate, moved to Texas in 1849. He settled with his family in Port Lavaca and practiced law. In 1853 his wife died; five years later he remarried and fathered five more children.

Ogden, a Unionist, left Texas in 1863 and returned following the Civil War. During Reconstruction he became involved in politics. He was appointed district attorney for the Tenth Judicial District in 1865 and again in 1867.

In 1870 Ogden was appointed an associate justice of the supreme court by Gov. Edmund J. Davis. When Lemuel D. Evans left the court in September 1873, Ogden succeeded him as chief justice. He was the presiding judge of the scandalous "Semicolon Court" that ruled, in Ex parte Rodriguez, the gubernatorial election of 1873 invalid predicated on the placement of a semicolon in Section 6, Article 3 of the 1869 Texas Constitution. When Gov. Coke took office following the scandal, Ogden and his colleagues were replaced.

Ogden moved to San Antonio and practiced law until retiring in 1888. He died in San Antonio June 15, 1896.


Campbell, Randolph B. Ogden, Wesley B., Handbook of Texas Online (last updated june 6, 2001).

Norvell, James R. The Reconstruction Courts of Texas 1867-1873, 62 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 141-163 (October 1958).

Shelley, George E. The Semicolon Court of Texas, 48 The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 449-468 (April 1945).