The Kemp Sketch
WHARTON, JOHN AUSTIN -- Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1809, the son of John Harris Wharton. Their father dying in 1815, and their mother two years later, John A. and his brother William H., were reared by an uncle, Jesse Wharton.
Jesse Wharton was born in Covesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, July 29, 1782. He moved to Tennessee and was from that state elected to the House of Representatives of the Tenth United States Congress, March 4, 1807 to March 3, 1809. He was appointed United States Senator to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of George W. Campbell and served from March 17, 1814 to October 10, 1815, when his successor was elected.
After receiving an academic education, John A. Wharton studied law and was in 1830 admitted to the bar. He moved to New Orleans that year and began the practice of his profession. He remained there until 1833 when he moved to Texas and joined his brother, William H., who was then living in Columbia (Brazoria) Municipality. In Headright Certificate No. 81 issued to him January 25, 1838 for one-third of a league of land by the Board of Land Commissioners for Brazoria County it is merely stated that he came to Texas previous to May 2, 1835.
From Brazoria Municipality Mr. Wharton was sent as a delegate to the Consultation held in San Felipe de Austin in 1835. On November 14, 1835 he was elected a member of the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas by the Consultation. After Dr. Branch T. Archer, William H. Wharton and Stephen F. Austin had been appointed commissioners to the United States they made application to General Houston to appoint two agents to proceed to New Orleans to procure provisions, ammunition, etc., they being subject to the direction of the commissioners. They recommended the names of Almanzon Houston and John A. Wharton for this trust. Accordingly, on December 8, 1835 General Houston appointed the agents names. Mr. Wharton on his return trip arrived at Velasco in the latter part of January, 1836 with a supply. He joined the army and was on the staff of General Houston as Adjutant General of the army at San Jacinto. His bravery on the battlefield was conspicuous.
Major Wharton was issued Bounty Certificate No. 471 for 640 acres of land for having served in the army from December 9, 1835, to July 5, 1836. On August 15, 1836 he was elected a member of the Committee of Correspondence for the jurisdiction of Columbia (Brazoria). In April, 1837, his brother William, was among those on the Julius Caesar when it was captured off Velasco by a Mexican man of war and all passengers taken to Matamoras and put in prison. John A. with thirty Mexican prisoners and a flag of truce, sailed for Matamoras to try to effect an exchange of prisoners but he, too, was placed in confinement. The two brothers, however, escaped shortly afterwards.
Major Wharton was Secretary of War during a part of President Burnet's administration; a member of the House of Representatives from Brazoria County in the First Congress but was not a candidate for a seat in the second, remaining at home where he was a member of the law firm, Wharton Pease and Harris, composed of John A. Wharton, E. M. Pease and J. M. Harris. He died at Houston December 17, 1838, serving as a member of the House of Representatives in the Third Congress.
On the afternoon of his death, officers of the army assembled at Kelser's Arcade to pay tribute to his memory. Colonel Sidney Sherman was called to the chair and William S. Fisher was made secretary. It was agreed that all officers then in Houston, would, at the time designated, form in front of his late residence and march in procession to the place of interment.
On the following day his remains were placed in the capital where both houses of congress had adjourned to attend the services conducted by Holland (Masonic) Lodge No. 1, of which Wharton had been a charter member. Vice President David G. Burnet, who delivered the oration, said in part: "The keenest blade on the field of San Jacinto is broken, the brave, the generous, the talented John A. Wharton is no more - but surely it will be engraved on the tablets of our history, that Texas wept when Wharton died."
Major Wharton is buried in the city cemetery on what is now West Dallas Avenue in Houston. The State of Texas in 1932 erected a monument in the cemetery to his memory. When Wharton County, Texas was created April 3, 1846 it was named in honor of the two brothers, William H. and John A. Wharton, altho not so stated in the bill.
"Republic of Texas
County of Brazoria Ne Nariator
I, John A. Wharton, citizen of the Republic and County aforesaid, being desirous that my own will and not the law shall prevail in regard to my property and effects in case of death, do make my last will and testament,-
Item 1st, I desire and bequeath to my Brother William Harris Wharton all my property real, personal and mixed, constituting him my sole heir and universal legatee.
My debts are inconsiderable, I wish them paid out of monies, that may be collected from notes and accounts due me, and not to sell any of my lands, negroes, horses, or Bank Stock. I positively prohibit my Brother from dividing my property with any of my other relatives except they move to this county within eighteen months from this date and in that case he may exercixe his own pleasure. I consider it unnecessary to suggest to my brother to Educate our Guardian Children or to assist any of our relatives who may move to Texas and who are honest and industrious and enterprising, or to make suitable presents to my friends: Written with my own hand on the 23rd of July, 1837.
Signed in the presence of
Thomas A. Thompson
H. P. Brewster
Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.
- Died in Battle: No
- Rank: Colonel
- Company: Adjutant General, Commander-in-Chief's staff
- Date of Birth: 1806 Apr
- Birthplace: Tennessee, Nashville
- Origin: Louisiana
- Came to Texas: 1833
- Date of Death: 1838 Dec 17
- Burial Place: City Cemetery, Houston, Texas
- Bounty Certificate: 471
- Profession: Lawyer