Groesbeeck, John D. (1816–1856)

By: G. E. Baker

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 1, 1995

John D. Groesbeeck (Groesbeck), merchant, was born on April 13, 1816, in Albany, New York, the son of Jacob D. and Catherine (Shever) Groesbeeck and the grandson of Revolutionary War soldier Johannes D. Groesbeeck. All were members of the Albany Dutch Reform Church. Groesbeeck was trained as a civil engineer and came to Galveston with his cousin, Abram Groesbeeck, between 1830 and 1837. John Groesbeeck conducted the first survey of Galveston, was the first wholesale druggist in Texas, sold fine wines and spirits, and was commercial editor for Galveston's first newspaper. He also served as alderman of Galveston in 1840. By 1846 Groesbeeck had stores in Galveston and Houston. He married Phoebe Tuttle in 1846, sold his business to Abram Groesbeeck and William M. Rice, and moved to San Antonio, where he was a banker, merchant, and sutler to several frontier posts, including Fort Sam Houston. He served two terms (1849 and 1855) as alderman. He and his business partner, Nathaniel Lewis, published the first San Antonio newspaper, the West Texan.

Groesbeeck and his house on the riverbank at 138 Dwyer Street were famous for lavish entertainment; Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, Sam Houston, William Jenkins Worth, Mirabeau B. Lamar, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, and others are reputed to have been guests. The house featured terraced gardens, Dutch tile fireplaces, massive antique furniture, carved wooden doors, and stained glass entries. Groesbeeck had four children. He died in his home on October 11, 1856, of consumption.

Frederick Charles Chabot, With the Makers of San Antonio (Yanaguana Society Publications 4, San Antonio, 1937). Galveston News, October 25, 1856. San Antonio Express, March 4, 1928. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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

G. E. Baker, “Groesbeeck, John D.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995