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Joe Darrell Wilson

HEALER, JOHN W. (ca. 1805-1883). John W. Healer (Heallie, Hearler, Heeler, Heiler), a soldier in the Texas Revolutionary Army, was born in Pennsylvania about 1805. He arrived in Texas prior to June 22, 1835, when he signed an agreement to join a volunteer company organized by William B. Travis to eject Capt. Antonio Tenorio, the Mexican commander, from the garrison at Anahuac. The local citizens had been suffering under the despotic rule of the Mexican military and its unjust tax collection. Healer and two others from Harrisburg withdrew from the company when it reached Vince's Bayou on the way to Anahuac. John W. Healer participated in the storming and capture of Bexar from December 5 to December 9, 1835. He also served as a volunteer in the Revolutionary Army at the garrison of Bexar from December 13, 1835, to February 10, 1836. Here he served as a third sergeant in a company of artillery under Capt. William R. Carey and Bexar commander Lt. Col. James C. Neill. When the First Regiment Texas Volunteers formed on March 5, 1836, at San Felipe, John W. Healer volunteered and served as a private during the San Jacinto campaign under Capt. John Bird until April 21, 1836. Later in the summer on August 2, 1836, Healer enlisted in a company of four-month volunteers and again served under Capt. John Bird until January 18, 1837.

John W. Healer, a single man, was eligible for a first-class headright certificate granting him one-third league or 1,476 acres of land by the Republic of Texas for his having settled in the Republic before the Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. The certificate was deferred for proof that he was still in the country. Once the issue was resolved Healer assigned the certificate to William K. Wilson. For his participation in the siege of Bexar, Healer was issued a donation certificate for 640 acres of land. This land was divided into two separate tracts of 426.66 and 213.34 acres in Blanco County. Healer assigned these two tracts to land agent Jacob De Cordova for $160.

Sometime before 1840 John W. Healer moved to Louisiana, where he probably married his first wife Rutha Walker (born about 1808 in Louisiana). On the 1850 U. S. census for Rapides Parish, Louisiana, John and Rutha had two sons and two daughters. John and Rutha were still in Rapides Parish in 1860. Sometime before 1880 Rutha presumably died, because Healer is shown on the 1880 U. S. census for Milam County, Texas, with his second wife Lucy, who was born about 1812 in Louisiana.

On November 16, 1881, John W. Healer made an application in the Milam County court for 1,280 acres of land under an act of the Seventeenth Texas Legislature granting a land certificate to the surviving soldiers of the Texas Revolution. The application stated that Mr. Healer's delay in filing the application was the result of the old man taking “his old wife” to McLennan County where she took sick and, after lingering for several months, finally died. The application was approved, and Certificate No. 1050 was delivered on May 15, 1883.

On August 18, 1883, in the county court for McLennan County, Texas, E. G. Overton, the son-in-law of John W. Healer, petitioned the court to become the temporary administrator of Healer’s estate. Overton stated that John W. Healer died about the 20th day of May 1883 and left no will; that his estate had a probable value of $150 and consisted of a Texas veterans' land certificate for 1,280 acres; and that there was a ready sale for the certificate if the court granted him such power to make the sale. The court approved the temporary administration of the estate and the sale of the land certificate by Overton. The proceeds from the sale were distributed to John W. Healer's living children and the children of a deceased son.


Audited Claims, Texas State Archives, Austin. Eugene C. Barker, “Difficulties of a Mexican Revenue Officer in Texas,” Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 4 (January 1901). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). McLennan County Probate Records, McLennan County Clerk’s Office, Waco, Texas. Stephen L. Moore, Eighteen Minutes: The Battle of San Jacinto and the Texas Independence Campaign (Dallas: Republic of Texas Press, 2004). Gifford White, 1840 Citizens of Texas, Volume 3: Land Grants (Nacogdoches, Texas: Ericson Books, 1988). Gifford White, ed., They Also Served: Texas Service Records from Headright Certificates (Nacogdoches, Texas: Ericson Books, 1991).

Joe Darrell Wilson

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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, Joe Darrell Wilson, "HEALER, JOHN W.," accessed May 29, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fheaa.

Uploaded on May 20, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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