McNeel, Sterling (unknown–ca. 1856)

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 8, 2020

Sterling McNeel, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, Indian fighter, and Brazoria County planter, son of John McNeel and brother of George, John G., and Pleasant D. McNeel, was probably a native of Kentucky. He moved to Texas in 1822 and received title to a sitio of land in what is now Brazoria County on August 19, 1824. He took part in Indian fights under Horatio Chriesman in 1824. Noah Smithwick described McNeel as something of a doctor. McNeel was a participant in the battle of Velasco in 1832.

In July 1835 he was a member of the San Felipe Committee of Safety and Correspondence. In November he joined other citizens at Brazoria in petitioning the provisional government for forts to protect the Gulf Coast. T. Bennet and J. Sharp purchased McNeel's entire stock in 1835. In February 1836, without official permission, McNeel landed a cargo of slaves from the Shenandoah. Clarke Beach protested to David G. Burnet in May that McNeel had not returned the boat and had greatly inconvenienced other settlers.

When Rutherford B. Hayes visited James F. Perry in January 1849, he went to Sterling McNeel's sugar plantation, five miles north of China Grove, and described its owner as a shrewd, intelligent, cynical old bachelor, fond of telling his experiences. In that year the plantation, with its brick sugar house and double set of kettles, made from 1,100 to 1,800 pounds of sugar. By 1852 a harvest of 235 hogsheads of sugar put McNeel among the county's twenty most productive sugar planters, and between 1852 and 1858 he made three crops. After his death, sometime before 1857, his plantation, named Darrington, was sold to Abner Jackson. It subsequently became Darrington State Prison Farm (see PRISON SYSTEM).

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). William Campbell Binkley, ed., Official Correspondence of the Texan Revolution, 1835–1836 (2 vols., New York: Appleton-Century, 1936). 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 A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Abigail Curlee, "History of a Texas Slave Plantation," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26 (October 1922). J. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6–7 (January, April, July 1903). Abner J. Strobel, The Old Plantations and Their Owners of Brazoria County (Houston, 1926; rev. ed., Houston: Bowman and Ross, 1930; rpt., Austin: Shelby, 1980). Texas State Gazette, May 23, 1857.

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Soldiers

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

Diana J. Kleiner, “McNeel, Sterling,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 8, 2020