Barry, James Buckner (1821–1906)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 7, 2012

James Buckner (Buck) Barry, Texas Ranger, was born in North Carolina on December 16, 1821, the son of Bryant Buckner and Mary (Murill) Barry. He immigrated to Texas in 1841 and received a headright grant of 640 acres of land near Corsicana. There he occupied himself, in his own words, with a "little farming and with a great deal of hunting." Barry soon joined theTexas Rangers, first as a member of an independent company at San Antonio and then, from September 15 through December 15, 1845, as a member of Capt. Thomas J. Smith's Robertson County Rangers. Barry then saw service with John Coffee Hays's company. He subsequently went to work surveying headrights in the Robertson district. In 1846 he was elected second sergeant of Capt. Eli Chandler's Company K of Colonel Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, for service in the Mexican War. He was wounded at the storming of Monterrey on September 21, 1846, and mustered out of service on October 2, 1846, of that year.

Barry returned to North Carolina, where, on February 24, 1847, he married Sarah Anapolis Matticks. The couple eventually had six children. The family returned to Texas and settled on Bazette Bluff on the Trinity River. For the next ten years Barry was deeply involved in Indian fighting and was especially outspoken as an advocate of the removal of the Comanches and Caddos from their reservations on the upper Brazos River. In 1849 he was elected sheriff of Navarro County and moved to Corsicana. In 1852 he was elected county treasurer and in 1854 was reelected sheriff. In December 1855 he moved his family to Bosque County, where he settled on the East Bosque River east of Meridian. He owned about twenty slaves.

Barry served as a private in Lt. Dixon Walker's Mounted Volunteers in the spring of 1860. In October he raised a company at Meridian that accompanied Lawrence Sullivan Ross into Indian Territory on the expedition responsible for the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker. During the same period he was the sergeant of Allison Nelson's company of minutemen. On January 10, 1861, Governor Sam Houston issued Barry a commission as first lieutenant with authority to raise a company at Fort Belknap for frontier defense. After secession Barry reenrolled his company into Confederate service in Col. Henry E. McCulloch's regiment and assisted in the removal of federal garrisons from Texas frontier forts. Barry, from his headquarters at Camp Cooper, continued to range the frontier from the Red River to the Rio Grande throughout the Civil War, during which he rose to lieutenant colonel. He also participated in the battle of Dove Creek.

Barry was an active member of the Grange. He was elected in 1883 to the Twelfth Legislature, where he was presented "the finest gun that could be bought" in appreciation of his service in protection of the frontier. He worked in the interest of stock raisers and unsuccessfully sought legislation to outlaw fence-cutting. In 1898 he ran for state treasurer on the People's party ticket but was defeated. He then retired to his ranch near Walnut Springs.

After the death of his first wife in 1862, Barry married Mrs. Martha Anne Peveler Searcy at Fort Belknap, on July 14, 1865. They had three daughters and one son. Barry became blind near the end of his life and died on December 16, 1906.

James Buckner Barry Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. James Buckner Barry, Buck Barry, Texas Ranger and Frontiersman, ed. James K. Greer (1932; new ed., Waco: Friends of the Moody Texas Ranger Library, 1978; rpt., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984). Frances Terry Ingmire, comp., Texas Ranger Service Records, 1847–1900 (St. Louis, 1982).

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Time Periods:
  • Civil War

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Barry, James Buckner,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 7, 2012

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