Moore, John Henry (1800–1880)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: February 9, 2019

John Henry Moore, one of the Old Three Hundred and a participant in the Texas Revolution, was born in Rome, Tennessee, on August 13, 1800. According to tradition he ran away from college in Tennessee to avoid studying Latin and went to Texas in 1818. His father took him back to Tennessee, after which Moore returned to Texas in 1821 as one of the first settlers on the upper Colorado River. He fought the Indians along the Colorado in 1823 and 1824 and went into partnership with Thomas Gray as one of Stephen F. Austin's original settlers. Moore and Gray received title to a league and a labor of land now in Brazoria and Colorado counties on August 16, 1824. The census of March 1826 listed Moore as a farmer and stock raiser, aged between twenty-five and forty. He was then a single man with two servants. He married Eliza Cummins, daughter of James Cummins, probably before 1828, when he built a twin blockhouse called Moore's Fort at the site where La Grange was established on May 17, 1831. Moore lived at La Grange until 1838, when he built a home on his plantation nine miles north of the town. In 1834 he led an expedition against the Waco and Tawakoni Indians on the upper Brazos River, and in July 1835 he organized four companies of volunteers to attack the Tawakonis in Limestone County. In September 1835 he warned of the expected Mexican attack and was so outspoken in favor of Texas independence that he was ordered arrested by Martín Perfecto de Cos. On September 25, 1835, the Committee of Safety at Gonzales asked Moore for reinforcements, and he marched to Gonzales to take command of the Texans in the battle of Gonzales on October 2. He is said to have designed the "Come and Take It" banner (see GONZALES "COME AND TAKE IT" CANNON). He was elected colonel of the volunteer army, and after serving as a member of the council of war called to discuss the best means of protection against the enemy, he was ordered by Austin to organize a cavalry company of the men who had pistols and double-barreled shotguns.

In January 1839 Moore commanded three companies of volunteers in a campaign against the Comanches. When he returned from that campaign he was personally directed by President Sam Houston to raise 200 men to protect San Antonio from both Indian and Mexican attacks. Again in October 1840 he fought the Comanches between the Concho and Colorado rivers and carved his name on the ruins of the old San Sabá Presidio. In March 1842 Moore commanded two companies of volunteers raised in the Fayette County area to assist in driving Mexican raiders under the command of Rafael Vásquez from San Antonio. In July 1842 he was authorized to raise 200 volunteers for the defense of the western frontier. While pursuing Indians who attacked on Cummins Creek in August 1842 Moore became so ill with inflammatory rheumatism that the Telegraph and Texas Register announced his death on August 17, 1842. The report, however, was premature. During the raid of Gen. Adrián Woll on San Antonio during September 1842, Moore again raised a company of volunteers and, serving under the command of Mathew Caldwell, participated in the pursuit of Woll to the Rio Grande. In September 1861 Moore enrolled in Company F, Terry's Texas Rangers (the Eighth Texas Cavalry). Too old to fight, he was appointed to a committee to secure bonds to finance the war. During the Civil War he lost most of his property, much of which was slaves, but he recovered financially before his death. He died on December 2, 1880, though the marker erected at his grave by the Texas Centennial Commission in 1936 gives the date of his death as February 25, 1877. Moore was buried in the family cemetery eight miles north of La Grange.

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Eugene C. Barker, "General Austin's Order Book for the Campaign of 1835," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 11 (July 1907). 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). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Harold Schoen, comp., Monuments Erected by the State of Texas to Commemorate the Centenary of Texas Independence (Austin: Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations, 1938). Telegraph and Texas Register, October 17, 1835, March 27, 1839, August 17, 1842, November 2, 1842. Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1936). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Anonymous, “Moore, John Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 9, 2019