Adriance, John (1818–1903)

By: Ruth Munson Smith

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: October 26, 2019

John Adriance, early Texas merchant and legislator, son of George C. and Gertrude Adriance, was born at Troy, New York, on November 10, 1818. He was educated at Troy and Truxton, New York. After the death of his parents, he lived with an uncle, John Miller, a physician and United States congressman. He received his early training in merchandising in the stores of Truxton and Berlin, New York, and was eventually employed by the New York City firm of John Haggerty Sons, an auction house. For reasons of health he left New York, on October 8, 1835, and settled at Bell's Landing, Texas, later called Columbia. During the Texas Revolution, under Capt. Jacob Eberty, he helped protect the escaping residents of Marion during the Runaway Scrape; he later guarded Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna and his officers on their way to imprisonment at Velasco.

Adriance was a partner with C. Beardslee in a mercantile business at West Columbia from 1836 to 1839, when he formed a partnership with Morgan L. Smith in Columbia. The firm marketed cotton in New York, New Orleans, and England. The partners purchased Waldeck Plantation as a place to send animals and implements taken as payment for debts. The merchant partnership was dissolved in 1844 and the plantation partnership in 1847. Adriance continued in the mercantile business until the end of the Civil War. He owned slaves, favored secession, and was named a member of the Brazoria County Committee of Correspondence on November 17, 1860. During the war Adriance acted as a deputy for the commissary department of the Confederacy at Columbia. He was wealthy in 1860 but suffered heavy losses during the war.

After the war he and his son operated a real estate firm. Adriance contributed to the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad and its extension to Wharton. For three years he headed the Immigration Department of the International-Great Northern Railway in Palestine. While serving as a member of the Thirteenth Texas Legislature, he influenced the founding of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University), Prairie View College (now Prairie View A&M University), and the University of Texas. He served as a director and finance-committee member of Texas A&M. He was a Mason and Episcopalian.

Adriance married Lydia Ann Cooke on September 24, 1846. They had three daughters and one son. Lydia died in 1871. After her death Adriance married his sister-in-law, Catherine Nash. He died at Columbia on December 7, 1903.

John Adriance Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Llerena B. Friend, "Additional Items for the Winkler Check List of Texas Imprints, 1846–1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 65 (July 1961). Abigail Curlee Holbrook, "Cotton Marketing in Antebellum Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 73 (April 1970). Louis Wiltz Kemp, "The Capitol at Columbia," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 48 (July 1944). Memorial and Genealogical Record of Southwest Texas (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1894; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Texas Collection, July 1960. Ralph A. Wooster, "Wealthy Texans, 1870," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 74 (July 1970). Ralph A. Wooster, "Wealthy Texans, 1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 71 (October 1967).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution
  • Antebellum Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ruth Munson Smith, “Adriance, John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 26, 2019