Burnett, Pumphrey (ca. 1796–1837)

By: Rachel Jenkins

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

Pumphrey Burnett (Pumphry or Pumpry Burnet), partner of Albert L. Sojourner as one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred families, was born around 1796 to Plenander and Elizabeth Burnett. He immigrated from Tennessee to Texas as early as March 1823, when he was listed as a twenty-seven-year-old farmer residing in the Colorado District. In May of that year he enlisted as a private in a scouting company headed by Moses Morrison that had been raised to control Karankawa Indians around the Colorado and Tres Palacios rivers. With Sojourner, Burnett received title to a sitio of land now in Matagorda County on July 24, 1824. The census of 1826 listed Burnett as a single man, farmer, and stock raiser. In January 1827 he signed resolutions declaring loyalty to the Mexican government and opposing the Fredonian Rebellion. By 1830 Burnett owned land near the Tres Palacios, and after his marriage to Elizabeth M. Smalley of Kentucky, the couple lived there. They had no children. Burnett reportedly wanted to found a port, to be called Tidehaven, on the partially navigable Tres Palacios River (see TRES PALACIOS, TEXAS). With his brother-in-law Abner Smalley, Burnett helped escort Elizabeth and others to the United States during the Runaway Scrape, but poor health kept him from fighting in the Texas Revolution. He died on October 31, 1837, and is buried near the Tres Palacios River in Matagorda County.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). Dan E. Kilgore, A Ranger Legacy: 150 Years of Service to Texas (Austin: Madrona, 1973). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., Houston: Armstrong, 1986).
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas

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

Rachel Jenkins, “Burnett, Pumphrey,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/burnett-pumphrey.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

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