Pitts, John Drayton (1798–1861)

By: Alice Duggan Gracy

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

John Drayton Pitts, government official and land promoter, was born on August 26, 1798, the son of John and Jane (Ingram) Pitts, on a ship headed for Charleston, South Carolina, from England. The elder Pitts was a sea captain. The family lived in Charleston until the War of 1812, when they moved to Georgia. In April 1819 John Drayton Pitts married Eliza Permelia Daves of Washington County.

In Stewart County, Georgia, he served as a justice of the peace, as education trustee from the Twenty-second District, as one of the organizers of the town of Florence, and as a trained civil engineer. He was authorized to build a bridge over the Chattahoochee River and in 1841 was elected representative to the legislature. In 1841 Pitts traveled with his brother Henry, a brother-in-law, James Vickers, and several slaves to the Republic of Texas. In a letter to his wife of August 4, 1842, from Washington-on-the-Brazos, he asked her to tell all their relatives and friends to come join him in this "land of plenty." As a result eleven families came to Texas, led by William and Edward Pitts.

Pitts served as engrossing clerk in the House of Representatives in Texas in the First (1846) and Second (1848) legislatures. Governor George T. Wood appointed him adjutant general of Texas. In 1850 Pitts purchased 640 acres of Gen. Edward Burleson's San Jacinto grant at San Marcos and deeded the land to the new Methodist Episcopal Church, which in 1990 still occupied the site. Pitts helped develop San Marcos. He served on the jury of the first district court held there. In 1854 he and six friends organized the Cushney Lodge No. 128, the first Masonic lodge in Hays County. At this time Pitts owned fifteen slaves.

Eliza Pitts died on May 12, 1851. In 1852 Pitts married Ann Durham of San Marcos. In the mid-1850s he and James H. Callahan organized the Pittsburg Land Company and laid out a town called Pittsburg. In 1858 when Blanco County was organized, the townsite was moved across the Blanco River and renamed Blanco. The Pittsburg Land Company gave the new town 120 acres of land. Pitts was attending the Secession Convention in Austin in 1861, when he became ill and died on February 5, 1861. He was buried in the Pitts Cemetery beside his first wife.

History of Stewart County, Georgia (2 vols., Columbus, Georgia: Columbus Office Supply, 1958, 1975). John Moursund, Blanco County History (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1979). Zora Malone Talbot, String Town (Corpus Christi: University of Corpus Christi Press, 1961; 2d printing, San Augustine, Texas: Malone, 1986). Texas Legislative Council, Members of the Texas Legislature, 1846–1980 (Austin, 1980?).


  • Peoples
  • English
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government

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

Alice Duggan Gracy, “Pitts, John Drayton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 29, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/pitts-john-drayton.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995