Pettus, John Freeman (1808–1878)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Revised by: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 17, 2021

John Freeman Pettus, participant in the battle of San Jacinto, was born on October 4, 1808, in Madison County, Virginia, the son of William Albert and Elizabeth Pettus. He immigrated to Texas in 1822, and participated in the siege of Bexar in December 1835 and served as second lieutenant of Capt. Moseley Baker's Company D of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers, at the battle of San Jacinto, where he lost a pack mule valued at $50. He was discharged on May 29, 1836, but reenlisted in Capt. John York 's company on July 1 and served until November 20, 1836.

On December 29, 1836, he married Sarah York, who was born in Alabama in 1819 and who was also then residing in Austin County. The couple had at least seven children. In 1840 Pettus owned 4,444 acres, two slaves, 100 cattle, and twenty-five horses in Austin County, as well as a town lot in San Felipe de Austin. He served on the Austin County grand jury in the spring of 1845. By 1850 the family was living in DeWitt County, where they owned $7,000 in real estate, but by 1870 Pettus had become a stock raiser in Bee County. Pettus died in Bee County on January 3, 1878, and was buried at the John Pettus Cemetery in Goliad County. Pettus was a member of the Texas Veterans Association.

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). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas (Austin, 1963-). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Telegraph and Texas Register, January 18, 1837, May 14, 1845. Homer S. Thrall, People's Illustrated Almanac: Texas Handbook and Immigrants Guide for 1880 (St. Louis: Thompson, 1880). Gifford E. White, 1830 Citizens of Texas (Austin: Eakin, 1983).

Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Thomas W. Cutrer Revised by Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, “Pettus, John Freeman,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 17, 2021