John A. Williams moved to Texas in 1822. He was living on Ayish Bayou by 1824 with his wife and slaves and, within a year, built a cotton gin. During the Fredonian Rebellion, he sided with the Edwards brothers at first but soon changed and supported the Mexican authorities. In 1827 he moved to the lower Trinity River, where he chose a league on the west bank known as Pine Bluff. He mapped the Neches and Sabine watersheds for James E. B. Austin that same year. Like many of his fellow settlers, Williams received title to his homestead from land commissioner José Francisco Madero in 1831 and probably sympathized with the land commissioner in his disputes with Anahuac commander John Davis Bradburn. This was a popular position among the Anglo settlers, and Williams was elected alcalde of the new ayuntamiento at Anahuac in January 1832. Williams was initially a leader in the local protest against Bradburn in June 1832 (see ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES), but he was later branded a tory when he refused to join the rebel Anglos in an attack against Bradburn and the centralist government. He criticized the conventions of 1832 and 1833 and in 1835 spoke against the call for volunteers to march to Gonzales and the Consultation. William H. Wharton offered $500 for his arrest because of his tory stand, and the General Council believed that he should be arrested. He sought refuge in Louisiana in 1836. The identity and fate of Williams's first wife are unknown. He married Margaretta Jane Dugat in the Atascosito district in 1832, and the couple had three children. In 1838 he sold Pine Bluff to William Moore. Williams died in Jefferson County between April and June 1840.
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Margaret S. Henson, Juan Davis Bradburn: A Reappraisal of the Mexican Commander of Anahuac (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974). C. Allen True, "John A. Williams, Champion of Mexico in the Early Days of the Texas Revolution," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 47 (1943).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Margaret S. Henson,
“Williams, John A.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
March 19, 2019
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: