Sims, Bartlett Samuel (ca. 1792–1864)

By: Claudia Hazlewood

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 2, 2019

Bartlett Sims, surveyor, Indian fighter, and member of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, about 1792. He was the son of Bartlett and Mary Sims. From 1818 to 1824 Sims was deputy surveyor for the Public Land Office in Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. He visited Texas as early as 1822. On April 24, 1824, he voted in a colony election, and on August 7 of that year he received title to one sitio of land in the area of present Wharton County. At some point he also received a labor of land in what became Bastrop County. Sims contracted with Austin to become a surveyor for the colony in October 1824 and continued to make surveys in Texas until 1858, when he was considered for employment by the state. On January 12, 1825, John P. Coles wrote Austin that Sims had married. Sims's wife was Sarah (Sally) Curtis, the daughter of James Curtis, Sr., and Peggy Isaacs Rutledge Curtis. The couple had nine children. Sims was living on the Brazos when he was classified in the census of 1826 as a farmer and stock raiser.

Sims was captain of a company sent on an expedition against the Waco and Tawakoni in June 1826. In December Benjamin W. Edwards solicited his support for the Fredonian Rebellion, but Sims refused to join him. Colonists meeting at Sims's house on January 4, 1827, declared their support of the Mexican government. In March 1829, by which time he had moved to Bastrop, Sims was elected captain of the fourth company of militia. On July 1, 1832, in the wake of the Anahuac Disturbances of that year, Samuel May Williams wrote to Sims asking him to rally Bastrop-area citizens in support of peace. At a subsequent meeting in Bastrop, settlers pledged their loyalty to Mexico. The Convention of 1832 appointed Sims (who was not a delegate) a member of the Bastrop subcommittee of safety and vigilance and also district treasurer for Bastrop. Sims represented Bastrop at the Convention of 1833 and at the Consultation in 1835 and served on an advisory committee to the General Council until March 1836. He also served in Robert M. Coleman's company in various 1835 campaigns and with Thomas S. McFarland at San Antonio. From 1836 until 1840 Sims was Bastrop County treasurer, surveyor, and tax collector. On May 31, 1838, he established the county's boundaries, and in November 1839 he drew up a county map. In April 1839, when Waterloo and Bastrop were being considered as possible sites for the capital, Sims sat on juries that set the amount of compensation to be paid landowners in each community for property that the republic might condemn. In August 1839 Sims commanded a company as a captain under Col. Henry Wax Karnes. In 1840 Sims moved to Travis County and participated in the battles of Brushy Creek and Plum Creekand several other area battles. In 1842 he was captain of a company under Alexander Somervell. According to some sources, Sims was one of two men that founded the Texas Rangers.

In 1841 Sims received a league of land at Stone Ferry for surveying the Del Valle grant below Austin on the west side of the Colorado River. Stephen F. Austin willed him a league of land in this area below Bastrop on April 13, 1833, in repayment for an obligation. Other individuals assigned him title to land as well, presumably as payment for services. Sims was living in Bastrop again by 1843. In December 1841 he was a member of a Bastrop committee that invited Mirabeau B. Lamar to attend a public dinner and ball. In January 1844 Sims was listed as a commissioner of the newly incorporated Colorado Navigation Company. In 1846 he started on a surveying expedition to the Pedernales River, but was attacked by Indians. His nephew and the other two men of his team were killed. By 1850 he was farming and ranching in Williamson County on the south side of Brushy Creek. The census of that year listed him as a surveyor with real property valued at $5,000. Sims died at Rice's Crossing, Texas, in 1864.

Forrest Daniell, "Texas Pioneer Surveyors and Indians," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (April 1957). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas (Austin, 1963–). Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). Worth Stickley Ray, Austin Colony Pioneers (Austin: Jenkins, 1949; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton, 1970). Sue Watkins, ed., One League to Each Wind: Accounts of Early Surveying in Texas (Austin: Texas Surveyors Association Historical Committee, 1964?).

  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution

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

Claudia Hazlewood, “Sims, Bartlett Samuel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 2, 2019

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