Black, John S. (1790–ca. 1851)

By: Gayla Gressett Nicar-Kemp

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 30, 2020

John S. Black, early Texas colonist, participant in the Texas Revolution, and Indian commissioner, was born in Tennessee in 1790 and settled in Grimes County, Texas, in 1830. Like many other settlers who came to Texas during this time, he came from a family that had taken part in the American Revolution. His father, Gavin Black, was a lieutenant in the American army. His grandfather, George Black, signed the Tryon Declaration of Independence in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1775. Black staked out his claim on the Coushatta Trace, on an "open picturesque prairie dotted with small groves of timber and covered with a carpet of tall nutritious grass." His title for a league of this land, later known as Black's Prairie, was granted on April 6, 1831. He later received an adjacent quarter league abandoned by his brother Marcus, who returned to Tennessee.

In 1835 Black served as a cavalryman under the command of Stephen F. Austin. He and his son Monroe took part in the siege of Bexar on December 5–9, 1835, under the command of Gen. Edward Burleson. Black went on to participate in the battle of San Jacinto as a captain in the quartermaster's corps. In 1838 he received two bounty warrants for land for his service in the Texas army. After independence, he remained in the service of the Republic of Texas in the quartermaster's depot in Houston. After 1842 he was an Indian commissioner. Under the leadership of Sam Houston, he worked to gather many Indian groups to persuade them to remain at peace and engage in commerce with the White man. Black was one of three Texas Indian commissioners who met with eight Texas Indian groups on Tehuacana Creek on March 8, 1843. This meeting was a preparation for a larger general council to be held in the fall of that year (see TEHUACANA CREEK COUNCILS). On April 10, 1843, Houston authorized a payment of $200 to Black for his services as Indian commissioner in the fall and winter of 1842, as well as $175 for his continued service on the Texas frontier.

Black was a devoted Mason who tried to settle his area exclusively by Masons. His name is listed on a monument under the old Masonic Oak in Brazoria. He died around 1851 and was buried on a hill near his land, which is today south of a roadside park. His wife, Mary, was buried next to him in 1868.

Irene Taylor Allen, Saga of Anderson—The Proud Story of a Historic Texas Community (New York: Greenwich, 1957). Grimes County Historical Commission, History of Grimes County, Land of Heritage and Progress (Dallas: Taylor, 1982).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Gayla Gressett Nicar-Kemp, “Black, John S.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 30, 2020