McCulloch, Samuel, Jr. (1810–1893)

By: Nolan Thompson

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: December 8, 2020

Samuel McCulloch (McCullough, McCullock), Jr., free Black soldier in the Texas Revolution, was born in the Abbeville District of South Carolina on October 11, 1810. He moved with his White father, Samuel McCulloch, Sr., to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1815. In May 1835 Samuel McCulloch, Sr., describing himself as a single man, moved to Texas with his son and three daughters, Jane, Harriet, and Mahaly. The family settled on the Lavaca River in what is now Jackson County. Samuel McCulloch, Jr., and his sisters were considered free Blacks. On October 5, 1835, the younger McCulloch joined the Matagorda Volunteer Company as a private under the command of George M. Collinsworth. On October 9 he fought at Goliad and was severely wounded in the right shoulder during the storming of the Mexican officers' quarters. He was the only Texan wounded in the battle and became known as the first Texan casualty of the revolution. The musketball shattered his right shoulder, left him an invalid for nearly a year, and crippled him for life. Incapacitated by his wound, McCulloch remained at Goliad for three weeks after the battle and was then carried by John Polan to Victoria, where he stayed a short while. He was subsequently transported to his home in Jackson County, where he remained until April 1836, when he and other settlers in the area fled in an attempt to get ahead of the retreating Texan army. On July 8, 1836, after the battle of San Jacinto, a surgeon in the Texan army, possibly Dr. Nicholas D. Labadie, removed the musketball from McCulloch's shoulder.

McCulloch's rights to residence and property in Texas were threatened by the passage of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in September 1836. This charter contained a provision that barred "Africans [and] the descendants of Africans and Indians" from citizenship, and another that required all free Blacks to apply to the Congress for permanent residence in the Republic of Texas. McCulloch petitioned the Texas Congress in 1837 for citizenship for himself and his children and the right to receive grants of land. The petition outlined his service in the Texas army, stated that he had been the first Texan wounded in the revolution, and supported his request for land with the announcement that he had recently become the head of a family. The resolution of his petition was complicated by an act of the Congress, signed into law by President Sam Houston on June 5, 1837, that gave permanent residence rights to all free Blacks residing in Texas at the time of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The law granted McCulloch the right to residence and induced the committee on claims and accounts, before which his petition appeared, to put it aside as inexpedient. The committee's action effectively rejected McCulloch's request for citizenship and headright land.

On August 11, 1837, McCulloch married Mary Lorena Vess, the White daughter of Jonathan Vess, who moved to Austin's colony sometime between 1821 and 1824. The McCullochs were never prosecuted for breaking the law against interracial marriage, which had passed two months before as a part of the Act of June 5, 1837. They remained married until Mary's death about November 8, 1847, and had four children. At least one of their sons, Lewis Clark McCulloch, served in the Confederate Army. On February 5, 1840, the Texas Congress passed an act that required all free Blacks to leave the republic within two years or be sold into slavery (see ASHWORTH ACT). McCulloch submitted a petition, introduced by Patrick Usher, asking that he, his three sisters, and a relative named Uldy be exempted from the law. On November 10, 1840, a relief bill for the McCullochs passed. Samuel McCulloch fought against Comanche Indians at the battle of Plum Creek on August 11 and 12, 1840. When Mexican general Adrián Woll invaded San Antonio in 1842, McCulloch served as a spy under the command of Col. Clark L. Owen. In 1841 he and his family had moved from Lavaca County to Wallace Prairie in Grimes County, but in 1845 they resettled in Jackson County.

McCulloch became eligible for bounty land by an act of the Texas Congress approved December 18, 1837, which entitled persons permanently disabled in the service of Texas to one-league grants. On December 7, 1850, he located two thirds of his league on Frio Road and the south bank of the Medina River, fourteen miles to the southwest of San Antonio. McCulloch sold a third of his bounty land to John Twohig on October 22, 1851. In 1852 he moved with his family to the region of present-day Von Ormy, in Bexar County, where he lived as a farmer and cattleman. In his later years McCulloch attended reunions and gatherings of old soldiers and pioneers. On April 20 and 21, 1889, he attended the annual reunion of the Texas Veterans Association at Dallas. He died at Von Ormy on November 2, 1893. His name is registered on the Texas Veterans death roll for April 21, 1894.

The Afro-American Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1975). Biographies of Texas Veterans (MS, William Physick Zuber Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]). Harold Schoen, "The Free Negro in the Republic of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 39–41 (April 1936-July 1937).


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Military

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Nolan Thompson, “McCulloch, Samuel, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 8, 2020

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