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Benjamin Dudley Tarlton Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-52

The B. Dudley Tarlton Papers is a limited collection which includes documents pertaining to numerous civil court cases, and a few criminal court cases he was involved in during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s; as well as correspondence concerning these cases. There is also a limited amount of correspondence concerning the political campaigns of the 1930s, and some personal correspondence. These papers represent only a portion of Tarlton's legal and public career; the remainder were destroyed by excess water damage.


  • 1899-1904



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Biographical / Historical

TARLTON, BENJAMIN DUDLEY (1849–1919). Benjamin Dudley Tarlton, attorney, judge, and state representative, was born to John and Frances Ann (Caller) Tarlton in St. Mary's Parish, Louisiana, on October 18, 1849. He received a B.A. degree from St. Charles College in 1868. After studying law under Judge George Hudspeth in Opelousas, Louisiana, Tarlton entered the law department of the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University), where he graduated in 1872. He was admitted to the bar of his native state in April of that year. Tarlton moved in 1875 to Texas, where he practiced law first at Waxahachie and later at Hillsboro. In the latter community he was associated in practice with Joseph Abbott before forming a partnership with his brother, George Tarlton. He married Susan M. Littell of St. Landry's Parish, Louisiana, on April 24, 1877. The couple raised four children.

In 1880 Tarlton was elected to the House of Representatives of the Seventeenth Texas Legislature. He won election to the same seat in the Nineteenth Legislature in 1884. During this period Tarlton also served as a member of the executive committee of the Democratic party of Texas. After an unsuccessful campaign for the judgeship of the Twenty-eighth Judicial District in 1888, he was appointed by Governor James S. Hogg to the post of chief justice of the Court of Civil Appeals for the Second District of Texas. The court was located in Fort Worth, and Tarlton moved there. He remained on the bench until his retirement in January 1899. He then entered private practice in Fort Worth and worked as an attorney until 1904, when he was appointed a professor of law at the University of Texas law school. While on the faculty of the university, Tarlton wrote a number of law textbooks that were adopted by several law schools, including the University of Texas.

Tarlton was on the Texas coast in September 1919, when a hurricane came ashore just south of Corpus Christi. He subsequently contracted pneumonia and died at Beeville on September 22. He was buried in Fort Worth. On April 1, 1965, a memorial scholarship was established by the James R. Dougherty Foundation to honor Tarlton. The University of Texas Law Library was also named in his honor.

From the Handbook of Texas Online

Physical Location

204-2/C/1-6 204-2/D/1-3