Samuel McCulloch, Jr.: A True Texan Fighter

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Tony Maples Photography


Though his name does not often appear in many history books, Samuel McCulloch, Jr. should be a name you know. This man fought in many capacities for freedoms modern Texans take for granted. Learn more about this amazing man from Texas history you may have never heard of.

Early Years

Prior to coming to Texas, Samuel McCulloch, Jr., was born in South Carolina and raised in Alabama. While in Alabama, his father, Samuel McCulloch, Sr., had three daughters, Samuel’s sisters. The family moved to Texas in 1835 when Samuel Jr. was 25, and in the then-nation of Mexico, the family was considered free blacks. Before long, the Texas Revolution would ignite, sending Samuel Jr. into Texas history.

First Wounded in the Texas Revolution

Samuel McCulloch, Jr

Photo: Facebook/Texas African American History Memorial

Young Samuel only waited five months after moving to Jackson County along the LaVaca River before volunteering to fight with the Matagorda Volunteer Company. While a private with that company, he became the first Texan to enter the Mexican garrison at Goliad, where he also became the first person wounded in the Texas Revolution. A musket ball struck through his shoulder, resulting in a lifelong handicap.

Runaway Scrape

Texas Revolution Campaigns

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

With the musket ball still lodged in his shoulder, Samuel McCulloch, Jr., evacuated to his father’s home. Just six months after his injury, in April of 1836, the Runaway Scrape prompted the McCulloch family to leave. This event forced residents of the area to flee ahead of General Santa Anna’s advancing troops. A doctor removed the musket ball from his shoulder in July 1836.

Post War Fight for Freedom

Seal of the Republic of Texas

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite being a wounded veteran of the Texas Revolution, McCulloch, Jr., discovered that he would be denied rights after the passing of the Texas Constitution in September 1836. Those of African or Native American descent were denied citizenship in the new Republic of Texas, and if a free black wanted to live in the new nation, he would have to apply to Congress. In 1837, McCulloch, Jr., successfully completed a petition to not only be granted citizenship but also to receive a land grant. By April 1838, he had one league of land in his name, but in the interim, in August 1837, McCulloch, Jr., married Mary Vess. However, she was a white woman, which broke the law enacted on June 5, 1837, against interracial marriage. Thankfully, though, the McCullochs never faced prosecution for their union. Together, they raised four sons, and Mary died a decade later, in 1847.

Further Battles

In 1840, the Ashworth Act passed, which required any free blacks living in the Republic of Texas to leave within two years or face being sold into slavery. As with the law that required a request of Congress for McCulloch, Jr., to acquire property, this law needed a petition for McCulloch, Jr., and his three sisters to be exempted from the law. Between February, when the law passed, and November, 1840, when McCulloch, Jr.’s, relief bill came, Samuel McCulloch, Jr., continued to serve his country. He fought Comanches in the Battle of Plum Creek in August 1840. Even when Mexican troops invaded San Antonio in 1842, McCulloch, Jr., served as a spy for Texas. He remained active in soldier reunions and gatherings until his death in 1893 in Von Ormy outside San Antonio.