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Blackburn, Ephraim (1754–1807)

Kaye A. Walker Biography Entry

Ephraim Blackburn, a member of Philip Nolan's botched expedition, son of James and Mary Blackburn, was born in 1754 and reared in West Nottingham Township, Pennsylvania. He was a Quaker but nonetheless commanded a company in the American Revolution. He married Prudence Rich. Blackburn gave his home state as Maryland in 1801, when he entered Texas above Nacogdoches as a member of Nolan's expedition. Blackburn was captured with the Nolan party and imprisoned at Chihuahua. When Spanish authorities decreed that one man of the nine survivors of the expedition should be killed, dice were thrown to determine who should be hanged. Blackburn, the oldest man in the group, cast the dice first and threw the low number. He was hanged in the Plaza de los Urangas in Chihuahua City, Mexico, on November 11, 1807.

Edward Everett Hale, "The Real Philip Nolan," Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society 4 (1901). Edward Everett Hale, Philip Nolan's Friends: A Story of the Change of Western Empire (New York: Scribner, Armstrong, 1877). Maurine T. Wilson, Philip Nolan and His Activities in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1932). Maurine T. Wilson and Jack Jackson, Philip Nolan and Texas: Expeditions into the Unknown Land, 1791–1801 (Waco: Texian Press, 1987).


  • Exploration
  • Explorers (American)
  • Religion
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)

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

Kaye A. Walker, “Blackburn, Ephraim,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 22, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.