Van Dyke, Wilson (1817–1881)

By: William L. Ming

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Wilson Van Dyke, survivor of the Mier expedition, was born in South Carolina on December 25, 1817. He was a stock raiser and farmer. He came to Texas by October 1837 and applied for land in Bastrop County. In 1842 Van Dyke joined Adam Zumwalt's company and, at the battle of Salado Creek, helped force Gen. Adrián Woll's Mexican army to retreat toward Mexico. Later in the same year, he joined Gen. Alexander Somervell's campaign and was assigned, as a private, to Isaac N. Mitchell's company, First Regiment of the South Western Army. After Somervell forced the Mexican army to retreat, Van Dyke joined the small group of Texans under Col. William S. Fisher who wished to continue the fight, crossed the river into Mexico, and was captured at Mier, Tamaulipas. As a prisoner he participated in the Black Bean Episode, in which he drew a white bean. In 1844 he was released from Perote Prison, near Mexico City, and returned to Texas. In May 1846, with the outbreak of the Mexican War, Van Dyke enlisted in Capt. Benjamin McCulloch's company of Texas militia, which had become a part of Col. John Coffee (Jack) Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. He was discharged on September 17, 1846. During the Civil War Van Dyke participated in two musters, which were required by law for frontier defense. His first was on March 18, 1864, with Capt. W. S. Gouldy's Company K, First Regiment, Second Brigade, Texas State Troops, of Bosque and Coryell counties. His second muster, on May 5, 1864, was with Capt. G. Graham's Company, Second Frontier District, Texas State Troops, commanded by Maj. George B. Erath. Van Dyke married Mrs. Mary Ann Ross on October 20, 1847; they had at least two children. He married Mrs. Elizabeth Montgomery on October 18, 1854. His third marriage, on May 18, 1860, was to Martha Jane Williams; they had eight children. Van Dyke spent the last eleven years of his life near Sparta in Bell County, where he died on August 3, 1881.

J. J. Bishop, The Rise and Fall of Sparta: A History of Its Beginning and Its End (1952?). Paul C. Boethel, The History of Lavaca County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1936; rev. ed., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1959). Thomas J. Green, Journal of the Texian Expedition Against Mier (New York: Harper, 1845; rpt., Austin: Steck, 1935). Joseph Milton Nance, ed., Mier Expedition Diary: A Texas Prisoner's Account by Joseph D. McCutchan (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

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

William L. Ming, “Van Dyke, Wilson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995