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SYDNOR, JOHN S. (1812–1869). John S. Sydnor, merchant and slave trader, was born in Hanover County, Virginia, on October 20, 1812. He married Sarah White of Richmond, Virginia, in 1830. Sydnor came to Texas on an inspection tour in 1838, returned to Virginia for his family in 1839, and in January 1840 arrived at Galveston on the Austin with a house that he had had framed in Virginia and shipped in sections. By 1842 he had a profitable commission and real-estate business. As mayor of Galveston in 1846–47, he promoted establishment of schools, organization of the police and fire departments, and general public improvement. He promoted railroad construction as well. Sydnor served in the coast guard and in 1845 built a brick wharf on which he constructed a storage warehouse. Through the 1850s Sydnor was a slave dealer in Galveston, where he held public auctions at his establishment on Congress Avenue between Main and Fannin streets. For a time he was commissioned a colonel in the Confederate Army but resigned to go into the auction and commission business in Houston. He was sent to Richmond to buy cannons for Texas defense. In 1866 Sydnor moved to New York and went into a brokerage business. He died in August 1869, while on a visit at his son's home at Lynchburg, Texas.

O. F. Allen, The City of Houston from Wilderness to Wonder (Temple, Texas, 1936). Charles Waldo Hayes, Galveston: History of the Island and the City (2 vols., Austin: Jenkins Garrett, 1974). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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Handbook of Texas Online, "Sydnor, John S.," accessed September 24, 2017,

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