Coker, John (1789–1861)

By: Richard B. Autry

Type: Biography

Published: February 6, 2009

Updated: September 26, 2019

John Coker, veteran of the battle of San Jacinto, was born on May 10, 1789, in Laurens County, South Carolina. He came with his father from Alabama to Texas in 1834 and applied for land in Austin's colonies. In his land application dated February 1836, Coker was listed as single and working as a blacksmith. John Coker served in the Texas army from March to September of 1836. He was a member of Capt. Henry W. Karnes's Company and served in Erastus (Deaf) Smith's spy company in the battle of San Jacinto. Coker was one of a party of seven men who burned Vince's Bridge and kept Santa Anna's army from retreat or reinforcement, thus assuring the Texan victory. Young Perry Alsbury, who was also at Vince's Bridge, in an 1858 letter to Congressman Jesse Grimes stated "While sitting in our saddles, John Coker, my left file-leader, made the following remark and the suggestions following: 'Boys, before many hours we will have one of the damndest, bloodiest fights that ever was fought and I believe it would be a good plan to go and burn that bridge so as not only to impede the advance of reenforcements of the enemy, but it will cut off all chance of retreat of either party.'" On January 17, 1858, Coker signed and attested to the accuracy of Alsbury's account of the Vince's Bridge action. In his service record it states that at the battle of San Jacinto John Coker lost a horse valued at $175.

In 1838 he received a third of a league of land in north central Bexar County where he settled by 1841 and founded Coker Community. Coker was still living in 1860. He was listed in the census as seventy years old. He died on January 4, 1861. He is buried in the Coker family plot in the Coker Community cemetery. A Texas Historical Marker was erected there in his honor in 1968.

San Jacinto Museum, "Coker, John" (, accessed April 15, 2003. Sixth Generation (, accessed April 15, 2003. Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin (John "Jack" Coker). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Richard B. Autry, “Coker, John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 6, 2009
September 26, 2019