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HAYDON, GEORGE W. (?–1841). George W. Haydon (Hayden), priest, son of Joseph and Sallie (Hoskins) Haydon, was born in Marion County, Kentucky, in the early 1800s. He and Edward A. Clarke were the first American-born Catholic priests to settle and minister in Texas. Haydon attended St. Mary's College near his home. Sometime before 1824, along with his childhood friend Clarke, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in the Diocese of Bardstown; the two completed their ecclesiastical studies at St. Joseph's Seminary and were ordained at St. Joseph's Cathedral on September 30, 1832. Haydon apparently joined Clarke on the teaching staff of St. Joseph's College after a few years of pastoral work and was appointed vice president of that institution in October 1838.

In March 1839 the two decided to go to Texas as missionaries, at the request of a number of Kentucky and Missouri Catholics planning to migrate to the young republic. In a letter to John Timon, visitor (soon prefect) of Texas, Haydon offered Clarke's and his own services as priests, expressed their common desire to open a school, and requested information about the San Antonio area. Reported doubts about their qualifications for pastoral work on the frontier delayed Timon's approval, but the Kentuckians finally left their homeland and arrived in Texas before the end of the year. They were received by Bishop Anthony Blanc of New Orleans, administrator of what later became the Diocese of Galveston, who provided them with faculties for active ministry in Texas; they also obtained a letter of introduction to President Mirabeau B. Lamar from the Abbé Anduze, in which the chaplain of the French fleet described them as "the advanced guard of a numerous emigration of respectable families who leave Kentucky."

Once in Texas, the two priests visited the settlements of about 100 Kentuckians established in Brazoria and then proceeded to make long missionary circuits of the republic. In 1840 Haydon settled at Refugio, where he started to repair the old mission church, and Clarke moved to Brown's Settlement on the Lavaca River, where he helped the residents build St. Mary's Church. While residing in separate locations, the friends still managed to work together in the construction, amid the Lavaca farms, of a two-story log cabin "with a passage in the middle" designed to serve as a school for children and unlettered adults in the region. In 1841 Jean Marie Odin, newly appointed vicar apostolic of Texas, put Haydon in charge of the Galveston Bay district. Haydon had scarcely begun his new assignment when he was stricken by yellow fever while assisting the victims of an epidemic near the mouth of the San Jacinto River. He died in October 1841. The exact place of his burial is unknown, but it is thought to be near the present town of Morgan's Point. Haydon was probably the first American-born priest to die on Texas soil.

Ralph Francis Bayard, Lone-Star Vanguard: The Catholic Re-Occupation of Texas, 1838–1848 (St. Louis: Vincentian Press, 1945). Catholic Archives of Texas, Files, Austin.
Aníbal A. González

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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, Aníbal A. González, "Haydon, George W.," accessed November 24, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.