Border, John Pelham (1819–1873)

By: Kate Harding Bates Parker and Clara Elisabeth Bates Nisbet

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

John Pelham Border, public official and Confederate soldier, was born in Lincolnshire, England, on February 19, 1819, the son of William and Sarah (Mell) Border. He immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1823 and lived for a time in New York before moving to Texas in 1835 as a surveyor. He first served in the Texas army from October to December 1835, and participated in the successful Goliad Campaign of 1835. Border enlisted again on April 1, 1836, and joined Capt. William Kimbro's company at the battle of San Jacinto. In 1837 he settled in San Augustine as a merchant. He was elected county clerk on January 4, 1841, appointed postmaster of San Augustine in 1842, and made a lieutenant colonel of militia in 1847. He married Catherine Elizabeth Harding on March 5, 1844; they had six children. At the outbreak of the Civil War Border raised seven companies in San Augustine, Nacogdoches, Sabine, and Shelby counties. They were formed together as Border's Battalion, and he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the unit. The battalion was later joined to another battalion to form Thomas Scott Anderson's regiment, of which Border was lieutenant colonel. In May 1864 Border assumed command of Camp Ford, the stockade for federal prisoners. In several postwar memoirs, he was characterized by former prisoners as a harsh and brutal commandant. After the war he and his family settled in New Iberia, Louisiana, where he died on June 12, 1873, and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery. In 1887 his widow married Oran Milo Roberts, governor of Texas from 1879 to 1883. Catherine Elizabeth Border Roberts died on July 21, 1920, and was buried in the State Cemetery, Austin.

Louis Wiltz Kemp Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Leon Mitchell, Jr., "Camp Ford, Confederate Military Prison," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 66 (July 1962).

  • Peoples
  • English
  • Business
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Military
  • Soldiers
  • Exploration
  • Surveyors and Cartographers
  • Confederate Military
  • Religion
  • Evangelical Protestant
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution
  • Civil War
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Reconstruction

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

Kate Harding Bates Parker and Clara Elisabeth Bates Nisbet, “Border, John Pelham,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: