Dallas, Texas Morning News, May 7, 1900
The Dead Statesman
A Brief Sketch of the Busy Life of the “Old Commoner”
David B. Culberson was born in Troupe County, Ga., Sept. 29, 1830. He was the son of Rev. David B. Culberson, a missionary Baptist preacher of Irish ancestry, well known as a minister in Georgia, Alabama and Texas. His mother was Lucy Wilkinson, a native of Oglethorpe County, Ga., the daughter of W. S. Wilkinson, a large planter.
David B. Culberson was educated at Brownwood Institute, LaGrange, Ga. He read law in 1848-49 at Tuskegee, Ala., in the law school of William T. Chilton, then Chief Justice of Alabama. He was admitted to the bar in 1850, then settled at Dadeville, Ala., and practiced there, until 1856, when he moved to Texas. He settled in Upshur County, where he lived until 1860, when he moved to Jefferson, where he resided continuously ever since.
His first law partner was Gen. W. R. Mabry, and it was said of him that he had defended more men for murder than any lawyer in Texas. He was a member Texas Legislature during the session of 1859-60, and then resigned his seat because he was opposed to secession, while his district was in favor of it. He was opposed as a member of the Legislature, it is said, to recognizing the validity of the secession convention that met at Austin at that time. When the war came he aided in raising the Eighteenth Texas infantry, of which William B. Ochiltree was elected Colonel and himself Lieutenant Colonel. This regiment was finally merged into the brigade of Gen. Hawes of Kentucky. Col. Ochiltree resigned about this time, and Col. Culberson was promoted to the coloneley of the regiment, and in the winter of 1863 his health broke down and he was assigned to duty at Austin as Adjutant General of the State with the rank of Colonel. In the winter of 1864 he was elected to the Legislature from Marion County, and resigned his military position to take the seat, his health continuing bad. He had gone into the army weighing 210 pounds and came out weighing 125.
Col. Culberson was born in the old line Whig faith, but joined the Democratic party after disbandment of the Whig party. In 1864 he was elected to the State Senate, representing the counties of Marion, Cass and Bowie. While a member he was chairman of the Committee on Internal Improvements. While yet a Senator, he was elected to the United States Congress in 1875, from the Second district, and resigned the senatorship. He was a member of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, and the author of the basis of the present system of frontier defense, of the State of Texas.
Senator Edmunds of Vermont pronounced him the greatest constitutional lawyer in Congress. He was presidential elector for Greeley in 1871, and a member of the Democratic State convention which nominated Coke for Governor in 1873.
In 1897 he was appointed a member of the commission to codify the criminal laws of the United States, and at the time of his death was still a member of that body.
In Dadeville, Ala., Dec. 8, 1852, he married Miss Eugenia Kimble (Kimball), the daughter of an eminent physician, who died in 1896. There were three daughters and three sons. Only two survive, United States Senator Charles A. Culberson and Robert Upton Culberson of San Antonio.
Congressman Culberson was 6 feet 1 inch high, and weighed 190 pounds. He ranked as one of the ablest men and finest orators in Texas. It is said of him that he was devoid of every semblance of hauteur, stiffness and humbuggery, being eminently a plain, frank, warm hearted man and with entirely too much self respect to assume to be that which he was not. He was in all this a genuine Texan. He helped to fight the battles of Texas during the war of the rebellion and was one among the foremost men in the State to assist in rebuilding its shattered fortunes. He represented his county in the Legislature when there was only a hand full of people in the present great Commonwealth of Texas, and his every thought and effort was directed to the advancement of the general welfare.