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Kincheloe, William (1779–1835)

Barbara L. Young Biography Entry

William Kincheloe, a member of the Old Three Hundred and one of the first Austin colonists to arrive in Texas, was born in Kentucky in 1779. He married Nancy Taylor there in 1799. They moved to Missouri in 1810 and had five children before she died. In 1821 Kincheloe was in St. Louis with his second wife, Mary (Betts), the daughter of Jacob Betts. They had three sons. Kincheloe visited Stephen F. Austin in Natchitoches, Louisiana. On October 16, 1821, he registered as a colonist and was granted two headrights in Texas, one as a colonist and one because he was to build a mill. Austin sent him to explore Texas for the purpose of choosing land for twenty families and report on what he found. In the fall of 1821 Kincheloe examined the land and chose for himself the fertile Caney soil between the Colorado River and Peach Creek, where Wharton is today.

With Kincheloe in Texas, his daughter Mary's husband, Horatio Chriesman, brought the families down the Mississippi River, on a flatboat in the dead of winter. Many became ill, and Mary Chriesman died and was buried in New Madrid, Missouri. The rest continued to New Orleans and met Kincheloe. They had hoped to sail on the Lively but arrived too late. Kincheloe, fearing the tardy settlers could not reach Texas in time to plant a crop, bought the schooner Only Son and hired a group of men to put in a crop. They landed at the mouth of the Colorado River and made their way up to the site of present Wharton, burned off the cane, and used a sharp stick to plant corn. The crop was bountiful. The Only Son returned to New Orleans for the families. On the trip back many died of yellow fever and were buried at sea. In June 1822 they landed three miles up the Colorado River, near the present site of Matagorda. Joseph H. Hawkins, Austin's partner in colonization, later criticized Kincheloe for this expedition. When the Kincheloe party left its supplies at the mouth of the river with four guards and moved inland to rest, Karankawa Indians killed the guards and stole some of the supplies. The settlers left immediately for the Kincheloe camp, fifty miles up the river; the men packed what they could on their backs, and the women carried the guns. Kincheloe built a cabin for his family beside Peach Creek. In 1823 his corn enabled many of the colonists to survive. The Indian attacks became more numerous. Some of the stolen supplies from the Only Son were recovered, including the millstone that Kincheloe brought to Texas. On July 8, 1824, Kincheloe received title to two sitios of land now in Wharton County, one on the east side of the Colorado, where he made his home, and one on the west side.

Kincheloe was a blacksmith, a surveyor, a farmer, and a stock raiser. He was an alcalde election judge in 1826. In 1827 he signed a resolution of loyalty to the Mexican government, in protest against the Fredonian Rebellion, and was elected to present it to the Mexican governor. He was elected police commissioner of Austin's colony in 1828. His home became a meetingplace for men gathering to fight Indians. The road to San Felipe from Matagorda crossed Peach Creek at Kincheloe's Crossing. Kincheloe died in 1835 and was buried on the banks of Peach Creek.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Mary D. Boddie, Thunder on the Brazos: The Outbreak of the Texas Revolution at Fort Velasco, June 26, 1832 (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Museum, 1978). 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). James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923). James M. Day, comp., Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas (2 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1966–67). Edward Hutcheson, The Freedom Tree: A Chapter from the Saga of Texas (Waco: Texian Press, 1970). J. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6–7 (January, April, July 1903). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., Houston: Armstrong, 1986). Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas

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

Barbara L. Young, “Kincheloe, William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: