Kingsbury, William Gilliam (1823–1896)

By: S. W. Pease

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

William Gilliam Kingsbury, dentist, agriculturalist, and immigration agent, was born at Booncillo, Oneida County, New York, on November 6, 1823. He attended the district school and a seminary at Cazenovia and studied dentistry in Baltimore. In January 1846 he moved to Texas to set up practice. One of his acquaintances there was the Texas Ranger Samuel Hamilton Walker, whom he accompanied to Mexico in the Mexican War; although he went along as a civilian dentist, Kingsbury received several wounds during that conflict. After the war he practiced dentistry in various West Texas towns and finally settled in 1851 in San Antonio, where he practiced for the next twenty-five years.

His writings about Texas caused the governor to appoint him commissioner of immigration, and as long as the Bureau of Immigration existed he was stationed in St. Louis. He represented several railroads in Europe; with headquarters in London from 1875 to 1884, he also used the title of Texas land and emigration agent. He is credited with having induced thousands of people, largely from England, to immigrate to Texas by his speeches, pamphlets, articles, and books, published in several languages. Editions of his pamphlet A Description of South-Western and Middle Texas were published in London in 1878 and 1883. Kingsbury was also active in the field of agriculture and stock raising and wrote articles on these subjects. He served as corresponding secretary for the Agricultural, Stock-raising, and Industrial Association of Western Texas in the 1870s and pioneered ideas on the silo system of storing feed. In 1872 Governor Edmund J. Davis appointed him one of three representatives of Texas at the 1873 Vienna World's Fair. Kingsbury and his wife, Elizabeth, had three sons. He died on September 11, 1896, and was buried in the City Cemetery in Boerne. Kingsbury in Guadalupe County was named for him.

John Henry Brown, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas (Austin: Daniell, 1880; reprod., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). San Antonio Express, September 12, 1896.

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

S. W. Pease, “Kingsbury, William Gilliam,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995

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