Kuykendall, Jonathan Hampton (1815–1880)

By: Hobart Huson and Marshall E. Kuykendall

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: October 1, 1995

Jonathan Hampton (J. Hampton, Hamp) Kuykendall, Old Three Hundred settler and Republic of Texas Congressman, the son of Sarah (Gates) and Abner Kuykendall, was born in Arkansas Territory on November 18, 1815. He was named after a family friend and fellow colonist, Jonathan Hampton, but he is often misidentified as James Hampton or James H. Kuykendall. The Kuykendalls were a North Carolina family but lived in Kentucky and Arkansas before coming to Texas in the fall of 1821 and settling in Austin's colony. As a youth Kuykendall briefly studied law with William B. Travis at San Felipe shortly after the Anahuac Disturbances. Later, he went to Chihuahua, Mexico, where he learned of Antonio López de Santa Anna's intention to subdue Texas. At great personal risk he escaped from Mexico to warn the colonists of their danger. Riding overland, he arrived at Goliad on February 16, 1836. His report to Col. James Walker Fannin was probably the first authentic news of the impending attack. Kuykendall went on to San Felipe to inform Governor James W. Robinson, and about February 20 enrolled in Capt. Robert McNutt's company. Gibson Kuykendall, Hampton's brother, later assumed command of the company, which Sam Houston detailed to hold Harrisburg during the San Jacinto campaign. After the Texas Revolution Hamp Kuykendall represented Austin County in the House of the Sixth Texas Congress, 1841–42. He served in the militia during Adrián Woll's invasion of Texas.

Kuykendall was interested in journalism, anthropology, and archeology. He was also fluent in Spanish and served in the Mexican War as aide and interpreter to Gen. Zachary Taylor. In 1851 he moved to La Grange, Fayette County, where he edited the La Grange Texas Monument for three months. During the Civil War he served in the Confederate cavalry. In his writing career he wrote many articles for newspapers and other publications, including the Texas Almanac. The articles dealt principally with Texas Indians and early Texas history and are considered authoritative. His essays "The Carankawa Indians" and "Aboriginal Antiquities of Texas," reprinted in DeWitt Clinton Baker's A Texas Scrap-Book (1875), show "an intelligent mind, with excellent powers of observation and description," according to science scholar Samuel Wood Geiser. Kuykendall apparently wrote a history of Texas from colonization to the republic and statehood but burned it in disgust when he was unable to get funds for publication. He tried unsuccessfully to get the state government to establish a department of mineralogy after he compiled a report on Texas minerals. His "Reminiscences of Early Texans" and his account of the San Jacinto campaign were published in the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association (now the Southwestern Historical Quarterly).

About the time that Aransas County was formed from Refugio County in 1871, Kuykendall moved to Rockport, where for a time he edited the Transcript. He died in the summer of 1880, while employed by Aransas County to translate the Spanish records at Refugio and separate the documents of the two counties. Because the Mission River was flooded, he could not be buried in the Protestant cemetery and so was buried in an unmarked grave outside the north fence of the Catholic cemetery in Refugio. He was a bachelor. In 1963 the James Power Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas collected funds to place a monument in Kuykendall's honor at his gravesite. A collection of his papers, including notes made during his service in the Texas army in 1836 and in Confederate service on the Rio Grande, as well as letters on his geological survey of the state and his proposed history of Texas, is in the Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

DeWitt Clinton Baker, comp., A Texas Scrap-Book (New York: Barnes, 1875; rpt. 1887; facsimile rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Eugene C. Barker, "The San Jacinto Campaign," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 4 (April 1901). Anne Kuykendall DeLany, A History of the Kuykendall Family in Texas (M.A. thesis, East Texas State Teachers College, 1942). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July–October 1958–October 1959). Hobart Huson, Refugio: A Comprehensive History of Refugio County from Aboriginal Times to 1953 (2 vols., Woodsboro, Texas: Rooke Foundation, 1953, 1955). Evelyn Karm, "Uncle Hamp, The Texan," Junior Historian, May 1944. J. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6–7 (January, April, July 1903). Jonathan Hampton Kuykendall Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Archeology
  • Amateur Archeologists
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution

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

Hobart Huson and Marshall E. Kuykendall, “Kuykendall, Jonathan Hampton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/kuykendall-jonathan-hampton.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 1, 1995

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