Burleson, James, Sr. (1775–1836)

By: Byron Howard

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 3, 2022

James Burleson, pioneer settler and Burleson clan leader in Austin's Little Colony, son of Aaron and Rachel (Hendricks) Burleson, was born in Washington County, Tennessee, on May 4, 1775. He was married to Elizabeth Shipman on December 25, 1791, in Rutherford County, North Carolina. They had twelve children. Their oldest son was Edward Burleson. James and his family moved to Lincoln County, Tennessee, in 1807 and then to the Mississippi Territory (later Madison County, Alabama). This large Burleson family group included several who later moved to Texas, including brothers John, Jonathan, Joseph, and James. During the Creek War the Burlesons were involved in many battles; in one of them Edward saved the life of his uncle Jonathan, the father of Rufus C. Burleson, founder of Baylor University. In 1813 James and Joseph Burleson were appointed commissaries under Gen. Andrew Jackson for the Creek War and served with Lt. Sam Houston in the battle of Horseshoe Bend. James, as special and confidential commissary to General Jackson, and his son, Edward, served at the battle of New Orleans in 1815.

Difficulty with Indians in Alabama forced the Burlesons to move to the Missouri territory in 1816 and to Hardeman County, Tennessee, in 1825. In 1831 James followed his son Edward, who had immigrated to Coahuila and Texas in 1830 with several other family members, and obtained a league on the Colorado River below Austin's Little Colony. In 1834, his wife having died, James married Mary Buchanan Christian (see BURLESON, MARY R. B. CHRISTIAN); they had a daughter. Under command of his son, Gen. Edward Burleson, commander at the siege of Bexar, Capt. James Burleson led a decisive charge in the Grass Fight. He became ill after being discharged and returned to the home of his daughter, Rachael Rogers, north of Bastrop. There he died on January 3, 1836. He is buried in the McDuff Cemetery on the east side of the Colorado River.

Georgia J. Burleson, comp., The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson, D.D., L.L.D. (1901). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Kenneth Kesselus, History of Bastrop County, Texas, Before Statehood (Austin: Jenkins, 1986). Vertical Files, Bastrop County Museum, Bastrop, Texas.

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Byron Howard, “Burleson, James, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/burleson-james-sr.

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January 3, 2022