William Isbell was born 1816 in Tennessee. At Gonzales in the spring of 1835 Isbell joined Capt. Robert M. (Three-legged Willie) Williamson’s company of Col. John H. Moore’s regiment for a two-month campaign against Indians on the upper Brazos River. In October of the same year he joined Capt. Thomas Alley’s company and in December took part in the Siege of Béxar. He joined Capt. Moseley Baker’s Company D of Col. Edward Burleson’s First Regiment, Texas Volunteers and served as a private in this company at the battle of San Jacinto. Also in Baker’s company was Pvt. James H. Isbell, William’s older brother, who enlisted in Nacogdoches on January 14, 1836. In 1841 he participated in the campaign against Indians under Mark B. Lewis and Thomas Green. After returning to San Antonio he served for six months as a Texas Ranger under John Coffee Hays. He died at the Burleson County community of Prairie Mound on December 11, 1877.
His reminiscences in the 1872 Texas Almanac:
Wm. ISBELL writes us, through a friend, as follows.
Editors Texas Almanac: —Was born in the town of Greenville, Green county, Tennessee, on the 15th day of June, 1816; in 1833 I run away from my father and lived in Abingdon, Virginia; I told my father a lie and he whipped me severely for it, as he hated a liar; I have often been in Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop, in Greenville, and had contests with boys for the binding or edging torn from cloth; I frequently chopped wood as a favor for Mrs. Cardy, who was Andy Johnson’s mother-in-law; Mr. Cardy was a club-footed shoemaker in Greenville; I emigrated to Texas in the fall of 1834, and living on Cummings’ Creek. In the spring of 1835 I went on my first campaign with Capt. R. M. Williamson, who was called three-legged Willie; John H. Moore, Liester, Rabb, Eastland, Goheen, Ned Burleson, R. M. Coleman, Col. Neill, and others were in the company; we were absent about sixty days on the upper Brazos, and lived mainly on beef. In October, 1835, I joined Capt. Thomas Alley’s company, at Gonzales, and marched about the 13th of October, 1835, under command of Gen. Stephen F. Austin, who had been elected commander of the “Army of the People,” for San Antonio; I belonged to that division of the army commanded by Col. Frank Johnson and Col. Wm. T. Austin, which stormed San Antonio in December, 1835. After the surrender of Gen. Coss I went to Mill Creek, now Austin county, and planted a crop, and then joined Gen. Sam Houston, on the Colorado, on his retreat from Gonzales; participated in the battle of San Jacinto, on the 21st of April, 1836, as a member of Capt. Mosley Baker’s company, served out my three months’ time and then returned to Mill Creek and worked out my crop of corn. In the winter of 1836 I went to the town of Brazoria and kept bar for Mrs. Jane Long, who had a tavern in Brazoria. I lived in Houston from the winter of 1837 till 1840; wagoned to the west for Major Bennett. In 1841 I made an Indian campaign under Mark B. Lewis and Tom Green; returned by way of San Antonio and there joined Capt. Jack Hays’ company of Rangers and served about six months; since the winter of 1842 I have lived in Washington county and in Burleson county, where I now am staying. I have five children by my first wife, and have three by my present wife, one boy six years old, one two years old and one boy ten months old; I have eight children living, and have buried two boys and one girl. Of course I have never seen my present wife and younger children, as I have been entirely blind for fourteen years.