Thrasher, John Sidney (1817–1879)

By: C. Richard King

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

John Sidney Thrasher, newspaperman and filibuster, was born in Portland, Maine, in 1817. He was educated in the United States and in 1833 moved with his parents to Havana, Cuba, then under Spanish rule, where he became a clerk in a ship brokerage company. By 1850 he was publishing El Faro Industrial de la Habana, an anti-Spanish newspaper, and was traveling back and forth to the United States in support of Cuba's revolutionary faction. That year he was implicated in a failed insurrection led by Narciso López, was arrested in October 1851, and was tried for treason by the Spanish government. He was sent to prison in Africa but after American diplomatic intervention was released in 1852. He went to New Orleans, where he published another newspaper, the Beacon of Cuba, and agitated for Cuban annexation by the United States. From 1855 to 1859 Thrasher worked for the New York Herald, traveled to South America and Mexico, and continued to propagandize for the purchase of Cuba for the southern, proslavery cause. Sometime around 1859 Thrasher went to Galveston and was invited into social circles, where he met and courted Rebecca Mary Bass Menard, the fourth wife and widow of Michel B. Menard, the founder of Galveston. Though some friends and family members disapproved and believed Thrasher "an adventurer in politics and matrimony," the two were married in 1860. Thrasher began negotiations to put Menard property in his name, and by spring 1862 the couple had moved to their plantation in Brazoria County, Manor, which they renamed Valverde. The illness of Thrasher's stepson, Menard Doswell Menard, induced the family to move to Macon, Georgia, in search of a better climate in the fall of 1862. Until the end of the Civil War Thrasher was superintendent of the Confederate Press Association, which coordinated southern press reports during the war. In midsummer 1865 he returned with his family to Galveston, where he became involved in civic and business affairs. Beginning in 1869 he edited the Galveston Civilian, and as a city commissioner he helped entertain Horace Greeley in May 1871. Thrasher died in Galveston on November 10, 1879, and was buried in Magnolia Grove Cemetery.

Dictionary of American Biography. C. Richard King, "Col. John Sidney Thrasher: Superintendent of the Confederate Press Association," Texana 6 (Spring 1968).
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War

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

C. Richard King, “Thrasher, John Sidney,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995

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