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OURY, WILLIAM SANDERS (1817–1887). William Sanders Oury, Alamo defender and courier, the oldest of nine children of Augustus Oury, was born at Abingdon, Virginia, on August 13, 1817. He came to Texas on his own in 1833 after his family settled in Missouri. During the Texas Revolution he served in the Alamo garrison; he was probably one of the men who rode to San Antonio de Béxar with William Barret Travis. Oury was sent from the Alamo as a courier about February 29, 1836. He consequently missed the battle of the Alamo. He later served as a courier for Sam Houston and took part in the battle of San Jacinto. Oury enlisted in the First Infantry of the Texas army as a third corporal in November 1836 and continued an active military career. On August 15, 1838, a survey of 640 acres of land in Polk County was made in Oury's name for his military service. The land was forfeited, however, when he failed to follow up with the proper paperwork. In 1840 he served with the Texas Rangersqv in the battles of Plum Creekqv and Bandera Pass against the Comanche Indians. He served in the company of John C. Hays. In 1842 Oury was a member of the abortive Mier expedition. He was one of the fortunate ones who survived the expedition and the execution lottery at the hands of its Mexican captors (see BLACK BEAN EPISODE). He eventually returned to Texas and served again with the Texas Rangers in the Mexican War. He was an interpreter for Gen. Zachary Taylor during the battle of Monterrey. Subsequently, Oury acquired land along the San Antonio River. His family joined him there in 1848, but after a stay of only eight months they returned to Missouri. In 1849 Oury married Inez García of Durango, Mexico. He and his wife left Texas for California in the gold rush excitement of 1849. In 1856 they moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he became a cattle rancher and a respected citizen and community leader. The following year he was an agent for the Butterfield Overland Mail, and he was also elected sheriff of Tucson several times. On April 30, 1871, Oury was one of the leaders of the infamous Camp Grant Massacre of Apache Indians, allegedly mounted in retaliation for Apache depredations against settlers. He died at his home in Tucson, Arizona, on March 31, 1887.


Bill Groneman, Alamo Defenders (Austin: Eakin, 1990). Cornelius C. Smith, Jr., William Sanders Oury (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1967). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Amelia W. Williams, A Critical Study of the Siege of the Alamo and of the Personnel of Its Defenders (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1931; rpt., Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36–37 [April 1933-April 1934]).

Bill Groneman


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

Bill Groneman, "OURY, WILLIAM SANDERS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 28, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.