Pier, James Bradford (1813–1888)

By: Gil Pier

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: April 26, 2016

James Bradford Pier, soldier in the Texas army, eldest son of Dr. Ira Webster and Sarah (Bradford) Pier, was born at Circleville, Ohio, on November 23, 1813. Both families had moved to Ohio from Massachusetts, where their forefathers had taken part in the American Revolution. In 1833 Pier opened a store at Milan, Ohio. There he married Lucy Merry, the daughter of Ebenezer Merry, one of the oldest settlers of that locality, on March 26, 1834. On February 14, 1835, the Piers landed at Velasco, Texas, at the mouth of the Brazos River. They proceeded by ox wagon to Mill Creek. By February 1836 they had settled near the early Texas town of Travis, just south of the site of present Kenney in Austin County. In early March 1836 Pier and several of his neighbors set out to help at the Alamo. On the way, they were informed of the siege. James returned home to ensure that his wife was safe, and then joined Gibson Kuykendall's company of volunteers at San Jacinto, who were assigned as a rear guard to protect the baggage, the sick, and the wounded at the camp opposite Harrisburg.

Pier served as a citizen volunteer in the revolutionary campaign from February until May 30 of 1836. He also served as a member of Capt. H. N. Cleveland's company of Mill Creek Volunteers from July 1 to October 1, 1836. For his service at San Jacinto he received 640 acres of donation land from the state of Texas in 1854. He also received two bounty warrants for 320 acres each for further service to the Republic of Texas. In 1838 he received a headright certificate for a league and labor of land. He returned home, embarked on a career of farming and stock raising, and taught school briefly. About 1840 he ventured into the mercantile business again. Pier was elected justice of the peace of Austin County in 1843 and a few years later became the first postmaster of Travis. He served for short periods (in 1846 and 1848) in the Mexican War. During the Civil War he served as Confederate postmaster as well as a member of the home guard, whose main duty was to guard prisoners of war at Hempstead. Pier was member in good standing of the Texas Veterans Association. He and his wife were Methodists and Democrats. Pier died on February 5, 1888, at Travis. He had five children; two died young. He is buried beside his wife in the Travis community cemetery.

Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Joe E. Ericson, Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836–1846): A Biographical Directory (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). Pier Diaries, Texas Collection, Baylor University.

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

Gil Pier, “Pier, James Bradford,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/pier-james-bradford.

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May 1, 1995
April 26, 2016