William Cochran Blair, Presbyterian missionary, was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on March 16, 1791. During the War of 1812 he volunteered in Ross County, Ohio, and served as a private with Maj. Robert Harper's battalion. Blair graduated from Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1818 and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1821. He was ordained in 1822 and spent eight years among the Chickasaw Indians. During the early years of his ministry he worked under the synods of South Carolina and Georgia and under the Mississippi Presbytery. He married Susan Mueller on June 20, 1827, in Natchez, and they had one daughter. In 1828 he founded the First Presbyterian Church of Memphis, and in 1835 he became the first moderator of the Synod of Mississippi. At some time the family moved from Natchez to East Baton Rouge in Louisiana. Blair visited Texas in 1838, and the following year the Board of Foreign Missions of the General Presbyterian Assembly sent him to Texas as a missionary, primarily to the Mexican population. Blair settled in Victoria in the spring of 1840 to preach, teach, and distribute Spanish-language Bibles and religious tracts. Although one of several ministers authorized by the Mississippi Synod to organize the Presbytery of the Brazos, he was delayed by high water and so was unable to participate in the work at Independence in April 1840. On October 2, 1841, he organized a church in Victoria, where he preached until 1847, when the property was lost in a lawsuit. Blair and his family were forced to flee twice from invading Mexican forces and several times from raiding Comanche Indians. He and his wife cared for Rebecca Jane Fisher and her brother for some time after the murder of their parents and the children's recovery from Indians in the spring of 1840. Blair moved to Goliad and was principally responsible for the town's donation of land for Aranama College in the early 1850s. He presided over the college for a time and was a member of the board. He also aided in securing funds for Austin College. By 1857 he was living in Green Lake, west of Port Lavaca. He moved to Port Lavaca as he became less active and preached there until his death, on February 13, 1873. He was buried in Port Lavaca.
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Mary Smith Fay, War of 1812 Veterans in Texas (New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1979). William S. Red, ed., "Allen's Reminiscences of Texas, 1838–1842," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 18 (January 1915). William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936). Victor Marion Rose, History of Victoria (Laredo, 1883; rpt., Victoria, Texas: Book Mart, 1961). Jessie Guy Smith, Heroes of the Saddle Bags: A History of Christian Denominations in the Republic of Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1951).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Blair, William Cochran,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 21, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994