Perry, James Franklin (1790–1853)

By: Winnie Allen

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

James Franklin Perry, son of James and Hannah Perry, was born on September 19, 1790, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In 1808 he went down the Ohio River in a keelboat and settled at Potosi, Missouri, where he worked in the store of a kinsman, Samuel Perry, and became a partner in 1818. On September 23, 1824, he married Emily Austin Bryan (see PERRY, EMILY MARGARET AUSTIN) sister of Stephen F. Austin, whose influence was strong in bringing him to Texas. The couple had three children. After Perry had started on an inspection trip in 1830, Austin wrote that Perry had been granted eleven leagues of land by the Mexican government, provided he move his family to Texas before January 1, 1832. He arrived in Texas late in April and found Austin engaged in surveying this land on Galveston Bay. Much pleased with the country, Perry left to fetch his family and to set up a store in San Felipe. A plantation and sawmill were first projected on Chocolate Bayou, but by the end of 1831 the family had decided that Peach Point Plantation would be their permanent home and converted the land at San Felipe into a ranch. The store was sold in 1834, when Perry decided to put full time into his plantation. Perry's Landing, a community named for the family and developed to support the plantation, began three miles away on the Brazos.

His loyalty to Austin was complete. Left in charge of his business, Perry took care of the papers and tried to collect some notes while Austin was in Mexico and took part in sending Peter W. Grayson and W. H. Jack to intercede for him. Following Austin's advice, Perry "steered totally clear of politics" until his return but thereafter became active for the revolution as a member of conventions and of the Committee of Safety. He drew up a plan for a line of forts on Galveston Island, the mouth of the Brazos, and Matagorda Bay. With the return of peace Perry settled down to plantation life but was soon called into service as the administrator of the Austin's estate. In 1839 he declined to become secretary of the treasury of the Republic of Texas but remained active in town and railroad building. He was one of the first to shift from cotton to sugar as a plantation product. Mrs. Perry died in 1851, and Perry took his daughter Eliza to Biloxi in 1853 for health reasons; his son Henry met them there on his way home from graduation at Trinity College, Connecticut. Both became victims of yellow fever, Henry on September 10 and James Franklin on September 13. He was buried in Biloxi.

Abigail Curlee, "History of a Texas Slave Plantation," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26 (October 1922). Abigail Curlee, A Study of Texas Slave Plantations, 1822–1865 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1932). Lela Ethel McKinley, Life of James Franklin Perry (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1934). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).


  • Agriculture
  • Plantation Owners

Time Periods:

  • Antebellum Texas

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

Winnie Allen, “Perry, James Franklin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995