Canfield, Alanson Wyllys (unknown–1864)

By: Randolph Lewis

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 11, 2019

Alanson Wyllys Canfield, editor of the San Augustine Red-Lander, was born in New Milford, Connecticut. In the mid-1830s he married Elizabeth A. Russell in Hamilton, New York, and the couple immigrated with the bride's brother, Robert B. Russell, to Texas in 1836. They settled in Milam. In July 1836 Canfield and Russell enlisted in a company of volunteers from Sabine County. Within two years the trio moved to San Augustine, where Canfield's flair for business soon became evident. As a successful businessman he lived well; his home occupied an entire block and included gardens and a broad avenue that ran to Main Street. In 1840 he purchased the press of W. W. Parker's Red-Lander and launched the Journal and Advertiser. This venture lasted slightly over a year, after which Canfield revived the Red-Lander, by which Canfield publicized his democratic views across the Republic of Texas. In staunch support of Sam Houston and tariff reform, Canfield's paper repeatedly proclaimed that "no true friend of Texas" could adhere to the tenets of the Whig party. In 1842–43 Canfield waged a heated political feud with a rival editor, Charles DeMorse of the Clarksville Northern Standard. In 1846, after five tumultuous years, Canfield retired from the newspaper business. In 1846 he traveled to Corpus Christi to join the army of Zachary Taylor as a captain. In the 1850s Canfield was probably a commission merchant in Calhoun County. During the Civil War, although Northern by birth and marriage, he became an advocate of the Confederacy. He died as Major Canfield of the Confederate Army at the battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864 (see RED RIVER CAMPAIGN).

George L. Crocket, Two Centuries in East Texas (Dallas: Southwest, 1932; facsimile reprod., 1962). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Business
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Republic of Texas
  • Antebellum Texas

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

Randolph Lewis, “Canfield, Alanson Wyllys,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 11, 2019

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