Sutherland, John, Jr. (1792–1867)

By: Richard B. McCaslin

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

John Sutherland, Jr., physician, was born on May 11, 1792, near Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia, the son of John and Agnes Sutherland. After the family moved to Tennessee he married Diana Kennedy in Knox County on December 31, 1816. By 1824 the couple had moved to Decatur, Alabama, where Sutherland opened a store and managed a bank that failed. He then formed a partnership with his older brother George Sutherland, who moved to the Austin colony in Texas to homestead for both of them in December 1829. Mrs. Sutherland died on February 17, 1827, leaving Sutherland alone to tend a daughter and his elderly father. He attended medical school, where he studied Samuel Thomson's method of treating disease with steam and herbs. Sutherland moved to San Antonio, Texas, in December 1835; there the Alamo garrison hired his medical services. He was injured in a fall from his horse and could not fight, so Col. William B. Travis sent him to bring help from Gonzales. Sutherland returned with a contingent of men only to see the funeral pyres; among the dead was George's son, William. Sutherland next served as an attaché to David G. Burnet, president of the Republic of Texas, and aided in the Runaway Scrape.

He returned to Tuscumbia after the revolution and moved to Egypt, Texas, in 1837, after his father died. There he married Ann Bryant Lane on January 26, 1838. She bore him a son but died in 1840. He married Ann Margaret Dickson in Colorado County in 1841. She also had a son by him, but they apparently separated. A suit brought by Sutherland against George's heirs over their homestead arrangements left him richer by a league in Bexar County but embittered both parties, prompting Sutherland to sever all ties with the members of the family on the Texas coast and move inland. In 1849 he purchased the Treviño grant on Cibolo Creek at the junction of the Chihuahua and Goliad roads, twenty miles east of San Antonio. He boarded patients who came to the sulfur springs near his home and gained a reputation for curing cholera and other maladies. His house was soon a regular stop, known as Sutherland Springs, on the road to Port Lavaca from San Antonio, and in 1851 it obtained a post office. Sutherland quit farming to pursue his medical and business interests. He had the town platted and sold lots, sponsored the construction of a school and Methodist church, and served as a justice of the peace and a member of the school board. His town became the provisional seat of Wilson County in 1860. In 1860 Sutherland wrote The Fall of the Alamo, which was published in 1936. He died on April 11, 1867, and was buried in the community cemetery at Sutherland Springs.

Florence Sutherland Hudson, "We Cousins": A Genealogy of Several of the Families Comprising the Alabama Settlement of Austin's Colony, 1830 and 1831 (San Benito, Texas, 1957). Pat Ireland Nixon, The Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528–1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Lupe Memorial Fund, 1946). Amelia W. Williams, A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1931; rpt., Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36–37 [April 1933-April 1934]).
  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Practitioners
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Richard B. McCaslin, “Sutherland, John, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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