The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Wilson, John McKamey, Jr. (1808–1881)

Jean Andrews Biography Entry

John McKamey (McKamie, MaKemie, McKemie) Wilson, Jr., minister and potter, was born in Mecklinberg County, North Carolina, in 1808, the son of John McKamey and Mary (Erwin) Wilson. He came from a long line of Scots-Irish Presbyterians that included Francis MaKemie, who was credited with introducing Presbyterianism to America. Wilson's father was a powerful voice in the Presbytery of North Carolina. Andrew Jackson was born in the home of his great-uncle, George McKamey, and during the American Revolution Mrs. Jackson and her boys took refuge from the British in the home of Wilson's grandparents. John's father and the young Jackson were boyhood playmates. Wilson and his brother, Alexander, graduated from Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, in 1827. John studied law and was admitted to the bar, while Alexander became a medical doctor. Both brothers entered the seminary. In 1834 Alexander became one of the first foreign missionaries to Africa, while John became pastor of his father's old church in Rocky River, North Carolina, before moving west to Texas. He married Philadelphia Herndon Fox of Virginia in 1831. They traveled west from North Carolina with a stopover in Fulton, Missouri, where Wilson established a seminary and classical institute for young women and was a circuit rider for two area churches. The Wilsons arrived in Texas in 1856 with their eleven children and nineteen slaves. Wilson became the second minister of the Seguin Presbyterian Church. He was headmaster of the female academy of Guadalupe College, and his scientific interests caused him to begin producing stoneware pottery for food preservation. Several of his scientific papers on the composition of clays were published during the 1870s. He trained his slaves to be potters as well as to read and write. Wilson, a staunch Confederate, was moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of Texas in 1862 when that body voted to dissolve its ecclesiastical connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States. After the Civil War Wilson sold his interest in Wilson Potteries at Capote, ten miles east of Seguin. At that time three former Wilson slaves broke away from the new owner and started their own pottery. One of them, Hiram Wilson, was credited with being the first black businessman in Texas; his activities are featured at the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio. In 1985 a historical marker was dedicated to Rev. John McKamey Wilson, who died in 1881, and Rev. Hiram Wilson near the site of their historic pottery in Guadalupe County.

Elmer Joe Brackner, Jr., The Wilson Potteries (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1981). William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936).


  • Religion
  • Presbyterian

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

Jean Andrews, “Wilson, John McKamey, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 06, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.