John Gladden King, early Texas soldier, settler, and rancher, son of Thomas(?) and Nancy (Gladden) King, was born on February 8, 1790, in Fairfield County, South Carolina. He grew up near Winnsboro, South Carolina, where his occupation was a planter. King served as a private in Capt. Moses Odom's (also spelled Odam or Odmom) Company of Louisiana Militia in the War of 1812. By 1813 he had become a soldier with the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition. This fighting regiment, labeled the “Republican Army of the North,” was organized to try and free Texas from Spain. King fought against Spanish royalist forces just south of San Antonio in the battle of Medina, called the bloodiest battle ever fought on Texas soil, on August 18, 1813. The campaign was an unsuccessful pursuit for independence.
After surviving this conflict, King moved to Giles County, Tennessee, where he had relatives, and resided in the town of Pulaski. In 1817, after four years of farming, he met and married Parmelia Parchman of Pulaski. They married on April 7, 1818. With the desire for more land and a growing family, King acquired property along the Tombigbee River in Mississippi by the early 1820s. He settled in Cotton Gin Port in Monroe County, Mississippi, on land that had been owned by the Chickasaw Indians only four years earlier. King was eventually granted five patents totaling 400 acres of farming land in Monroe County.
He sold all of his land holdings by 1825 and moved to Louisiana. After being in Louisiana only five years, King longed to move further west to Texas. He arrived in Texas with his wife and seven children in April 1830. The family, traveling by covered wagon, went to Gonzales where he registered in Green DeWitt’s Colony on May 15, 1830. He received a league of land on the northeast bank of the Guadalupe River near Gonzales, where he engaged in the cattle business and a horse trading operation and remained active in farming.
In February 1836 when relief forces searched the area of Gonzales for volunteers to fight at the Alamo, King was asked to join them. His oldest son, William Philip King, persuaded his father to let him go in his place, and he agreed to his son’s request. William Philip became a member of the “Immortal Thirty-two” volunteers of Gonzales and was the youngest defender killed at the battle of the Alamo. King County was named for him. Before the fall of the Alamo, John King served in the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers. After the defeat at the Alamo, King and his family fled east during the Runaway Scrape but returned sometime in 1837. They escaped east again in 1842 during the invasion by Adrián Woll (see MEXICAN INVASIONS OF 1842).
King became quite successful in all of his endeavors. On his Gonzales farm, he later built and operated a stage coach inn for travelers. The cost for lodging was $1.25, including corn and fodder for the horses. This new stage coach inn was built along the famous route known as the Old San Antonio Road. The German naturalist Ferdinand Roemer, during his travels through Texas from 1845 to 1847, stayed at the inn of King, whom he described as “an old gentleman with a huge paunch” who “had developed his place into a thriving farm.” King raised hogs, sheep, and cattle, and his chief crop was corn which he cultivated with the assistance of his sons and hired laborers.
King spoke fluent Spanish and was held in high regard by the Native American groups in the region. Family tradition holds that he helped negotiate a peace treaty between Tonkawa Indians and Capt. Mathew Caldwell. John Gladden King died on March 15, 1856. He was buried on “King Hill” in the King Cemetery on his farm in Gonzales County. Parmelia “Milly” King received bounty land of approximately 160 acres in Alabama on August 15, 1860, for her husband’s military service in the War of 1812.