Steiner, Josephus Murray (1823–1873)

By: E. T. Miller

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 4, 2017

Josephus Murray Steiner, soldier, physician, and state official, son of Henry and Racheal (Murray) Steiner, was born on September 17, 1823, at Frederick, Maryland. After his graduation from Kenyon College in Ohio, he attended medical school in Pennsylvania and shortly thereafter joined the United States Army, being made an assistant surgeon on February 16, 1847. Dr. Steiner first came to Texas with troops during the Mexican War. At the conclusion of the war, he was stationed at Fort Graham in Hill County, Texas. On September 6, 1853, Maj. Ripley A. Arnold, Steiner's commanding officer, had him arrested. In a dispute which followed, Steiner killed Arnold. A court martial of thirteen officers assembled in Austin on April 15, 1854, for the purpose of trying him, but attempts on the part of the army to place him under arrest were unsuccessful. Steiner, however, surrendered himself to a civil court in May 1854, and in the trial that followed was acquitted. Steiner's name was dropped from the army rolls on May 9, 1856. On November 5, 1856, Steiner married Laura Fisher at Tiffin, Ohio. In 1859 he was appointed Indian commissioner with John Henry Brown, Richard Coke, and George Bernard Erath. From 1861 to 1865 Steiner was superintendent of the State Insane Asylum (later Austin State Hospital). Sometime in 1866 Steiner moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he spent most of the rest of his life. He died at Marietta, Georgia, on May 20, 1873, and was buried there, but his body was later moved to Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. He was the father of four children, two sons and two daughters. Steiner and Steiner Valley, in Hill County, were named for him.

M. L. Crimmins, "Captain Jack Elgin's Last Story," Frontier Times, December 1938. George B. Erath, "The Memoirs of George B. Erath, 1813–1891," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26–27 (January-October 1923; rpts., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1923; Waco: Heritage Society of Waco, 1956). A. Y. Kirkpatrick, The Early Settlers' Life in Texas, and the Organization of Hill County (Waco: Texian Press, 1963).

  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners

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

E. T. Miller, “Steiner, Josephus Murray,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 16, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 4, 2017

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