Mooar, John Wesley (1846–1918)

By: C. Robert Haywood

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

John Wesley Mooar, buffalo hunter and businessman, son of John Allen and Esther K. (Wright) Mooar, was born at Pownal, Vermont, on June 12, 1846. He attended Pownal Academy, graduated with a master of accounts degree from Eastman Business College of Poughkeepsie, New York, and in 1885 married Maggie McCollum; they had two children. While clerking in a jewelry store in New York City in 1871 Mooar received a shipment of buffalo hides from his brother, J. Wright Mooar, who was hunting in western Kansas. After making the first sale of buffalo hides to an American tannery, Mooar realized that great profits could be earned from such sales and left for Dodge City, where he arrived in November 1872. He formed a partnership with his brother that lasted until 1905. The Mooar brothers were among the first to hunt buffalo in the Texas Panhandle, where they first went in 1873. They transported hides to Dodge City and Fort Griffin. John Wesley's responsibilities in the partnership comprised some hunting and the business transactions, including supervision of freighting caravans. One of the caravans that John Mooar accompanied consisted of eighteen teams of oxen, each of which pulled three wagons; the caravan delivered 4,000 hides to Denison, Texas. It has been claimed that John Wesley Mooar was responsible for encouraging the Sharps Rifle Company to develop the "Big 50," a gun designed especially for buffalo hunters and favored by them for its accuracy and range (see SHARPS BUFFALO RIFLE); the same claim has been made for his brother. But there is no evidence that either brother gave the idea to Sharps, although J. Wright Mooar claimed to have done so. After the buffalo herds were destroyed, Mooar freighted for ranchers in West Texas, especially in Scurry and Mitchell counties, and then settled on a ranch near Colorado City, where he owned a carriage agency and considerable property. He died on May 24, 1918, in Colorado City and was buried there.

Charles G. Anderson, In Search of the Buffalo: The Story of J. Wright Mooar (Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1974). Wayne Gard, The Great Buffalo Hunt (New York: Knopf, 1959). Wayne Gard, "The Mooar Brothers: Buffalo Hunters," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 63 (July 1959). Miles Gilbert, Getting a Stand (Tempe, Arizona: Hal Green, 1986). John Wesley Mooar Papers, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University. Buckley B. Paddock, ed., A Twentieth Century History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis, 1906).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists

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

C. Robert Haywood, “Mooar, John Wesley,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995