John York, Indian fighter and soldier in the Texas Revolution, was born in Kentucky on July 4, 1800. He moved to Texas in 1829 and was soon engaged in leading expeditions against the Indians. During the Texas Revolution, the Convention 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. 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.” 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. The state erected a marker at the gravesite in 1936.
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