York, John (1800–1848)

By: Ruby Farrar Pridgen

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: December 8, 2017

John York, Indian fighter and soldier in the Texas Revolution, was born in Kentucky on July 4, 1800. York married Letitia Crain and the family, which included five children moved to Texas in 1822. His family settled near San Felipe de Austin at the site of future Industry, Texas. York received one league and one labor of land in Austin’s Colony in 1826. York was soon engaged in leading expeditions against the Indians. During the Texas Revolution, the Consultation of 1835 at San Felipe appointed him a first lieutenant in the regular infantry in the Texas army. As such he participated in James W. Fannin's search in the Frio and Medina river areas in November 1835 for Domingo de Ugartechea, then bringing Mexican reinforcements to Martín Perfecto de Cos at Bexar. That same month Stephen F. Austin appointed York, along with Edward Burleson, as appraiser of horses and equipment of the Texan volunteers at Bexar. In early December 1835 York participated as a captain in the siege of Bexar. On December 20, 1835, he was elected a captain in the legion of cavalry under Lt. Col. William B. Travis. Later the General Council appointed him one of the agents to raise a mounted company to fight Indians in the Mill Creek (in present Austin County) and Colorado River areas. York married Letitia Crain and reared ten children. John Henry Brown described him as "a man of portly and commanding presence" with blond hair and blue eyes. York settled on Mill Creek in Austin County. In January 1837 he was serving as county sheriff, and in 1840 he was listed as owning one slave, twenty-five cattle, twenty workhorses, and one "pleasure carriage." The Republic of Texas awarded York 320 acres of land in DeWitt County for his service in the war. In March 1844 York was among the six men appointed commissioners by the Republic of Texas Congress to select the seat of Austin County, and in 1846 he was elected one of the commissioners for newly established DeWitt County, where he had resettled on Coleto Creek. Two years later he sold his half interest in a league of land for one dollar in cash. The purchasers agreed to lay out the town of Yorktown, named in his honor, and York was to retain each alternate lot, block, and acre lot. The veteran soldier was chosen to lead his neighbors, including Robert Justus Kleberg, in a retaliatory campaign against Indians in October 1848. York and his son-in-law, James Madison Bell, were among those killed on October 11 on Escondida Creek in a battle that generated much notorious publicity. York was buried eight miles east of Yorktown in the same grave with Bell. In 1851 Johnathan York acted as the administrator of his father’s estate and facilitated the sale of 9,455 acres of land in Gonzales, Brazos, Fayette, Washington, and DeWitt counties. The state erected a marker at York's gravesite in 1936.

J. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6–7 (January, April, July 1903). Nellie Murphree, A History of DeWitt County (Victoria, Texas, 1962). Texian Advocate, April 17, 1851.


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Military
  • Soldiers

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Ruby Farrar Pridgen, “York, John,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/york-john.

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December 8, 2017