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William E. Bard

DRYDEN, WILLIAM G. (1807–1869). William G. Dryden, trader, adventurer, and politician, son of David H. Dryden, was born near Richmond, Kentucky, on February 11, 1807. After his mother's death he was left in the custody of relatives. In 1827 he became a Santa Fe trader and made numerous trips to Mexico during the following years. Although a foreigner, he was appointed captain of militia and engaged by Governor José Calve to build a military road in Chihuahua. On February 20, 1840, Dryden was shipwrecked off the Texas coast and made the most of the occasion by visiting President Mirabeau B. Lamar, who assigned him a confidential role in the projected Texan occupancy of New Mexico. Dryden returned to Santa Fe in September 1840 but left in 1841 before the Texan Santa Fe expedition reached San Miguel. Because of incriminating documents that fell into the hands of Governor Manuel Armijo, Dryden was arrested and kept in confinement at Chihuahua for thirteen months, being released on November 8, 1842. He filed a bill of damages for losses incurred because of his imprisonment, but he failed to perfect his claim. At the outbreak of the Mexican War, Dryden was living on the Texas side of the Rio Grande opposite Matamoros. He became identified with the federalist movement and was one of the editors of the bilingual Republic of the Rio Grande. During the American occupation of Matamoros he served as interpreter with the command of Col. David E. Twiggs.

In March 1850 Dryden joined a party traveling to California by way of Mazatlan. At Los Angeles he found opportunity for his talents in the field of local politics; he held the following offices: city clerk, 1850–60; city attorney, 1851–52; school commissioner, 1859–68; and city judge, 1856–69. He married twice in California, first to Dolores Nieto, with whom he had two daughters; and second to Anita Domínguez in 1868. His death on September 10, 1869, closed a career in which mystery and adventure were strangely intermingled.


William Campbell Binkley, The Expansionist Movement in Texas, 1836–1850 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1925). Carlos M. Bustamante, El Gabinete Mexicano (2 vols., Mexico: J. M. Lara, 1842). Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Thomas B. Thorpe, Our Army on the Rio Grande (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1846).

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

Handbook of Texas Online, William E. Bard, "DRYDEN, WILLIAM G.," accessed July 05, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdr09.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on July 12, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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