Earhart, Joseph Bonaparte (1812–1869)

By: Morris L. Britton

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Joseph Bonaparte Earhart, pioneer entrepreneur of North Texas, was born in Pennsylvania on April 15, 1812. He married Mary Ann Quesenbarry on January 18, 1843, and they had seven children. In 1843 Earhart was a trader at Fort Washita, Chickasaw Nation, and operated transport boats on the Red River. By 1847 he had moved into Texas and was operating a ferry at Rock Bluff. In 1849 he was employed to establish Colbert's Ferry farther down the river on the Indian Territory side. After moving back to Texas around 1850, he built a steam mill on Iron Ore (now South Denison) Creek. He was active in the Hedgcoxe War, a protest of settlers against the Peters colony. Around 1855 he moved to Hog-eye Prairie, near Cundiff, Jack County, where he ranched and operated Earhart's Station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route. Earhart was reported to be one of the first ranchers in Clay County. His headquarters was near the mouth of Post Oak Creek on the Little Wichita River near the site of present Henrietta. He died in Grayson County on February 28, 1869, of an illness that began on a northern cattle drive, and was buried in Knobs Cemetery, now in west Denison.

Roscoe P. and Margaret B. Conkling, The Butterfield Overland Mail, 1857–1869 (3 vols., Glendale, California: Clark, 1947). Seymour V. Connor, The Peters Colony of Texas: A History and Biographical Sketches of the Early Settlers (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1959). Rosalie Gregg, ed., Wise County History (Vol. 1, n.p: Nortex, 1975; Vol. 2, Austin: Eakin, 1982).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists

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

Morris L. Britton, “Earhart, Joseph Bonaparte,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 24, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/earhart-joseph-bonaparte.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995