WILBARGER, JOHN WESLEY
WILBARGER, JOHN WESLEY (1806–1892). John Wesley Wilbarger, Methodist minister and author, was born in 1806, the son of John Wilbarger and Ann (Pugh) Wilbarger. Some sources claim that his birthplace was Bourbon County, Kentucky, but others maintain that he was born in Rockingham, Virginia, and moved to Kentucky with his parents in 1818. Wilbarger moved to Texas from Kentucky in 1837 at the urging of his brother, Josiah Pugh Wilbarger, who had lived near Bastrop since the late 1820s. He served as a minister for the area and assisted his brother in surveying the region. In 1833, while on a trip to Austin, Josiah Wilbarger was scalped by Indians and left for dead, but miraculously survived. This and other tales of Indian attacks that John Wilbarger heard during his lifetime prompted him to write a compendium of such stories, which he published as Indian Depredations in Texas in 1889. According to Wilbarger, he began actively collecting material for the book around 1870 and worked on it more or less continuously for two decades. The 672-page book, described by one author as "the most complete compilation of accounts of Indian warfare in nineteenth-century Texas," contained more than 250 separate narratives of attacks and counterattacks. In his preface Wilbarger noted that many of the articles had been "written by others, who were either cognizant of the facts themselves or had obtained them from reliable sources." Wilbarger, however, claimed that he had attempted to verify all of the stories. Written at a time when some writers, particularly in the academic world, were beginning to paint a more balanced view of Indians, Wilbarger's book cast them as unredeemable savages and showed little sympathy for their culture or motives. Nevertheless, the book is considered a classic work of Texana and has been reprinted several times. Also noteworthy is the fact that Indian Depredations was illustrated with thirty-four woodcuts signed by T. J. Owen, but which have subsequently been attributed to William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry. Wilbarger died in 1892.
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Christopher Long, "Wilbarger, John Wesley," accessed April 29, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwi07.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles