The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952

fJohd arleton
C. RICHARD KING
AMAN who found little happiness in life and whose body
found even less rest in death was John Tarleton, for
whom Tarleton State College in Stephenville, Texas,
was named. Uneducated himself, Tarleton became a school
teacher and later bequeathed thousands of dollars to the two
schools which today bear his name, the Texas junior college and
an institution in Tennessee. His personal characteristics paral-
leled his paradoxical life. Although he always carried two rolls
of money and had coins sewed in the patches of his clothing,
Tarleton preferred to walk the distance from his Palo Pinto-
Erath County ranch to the nearest post office because he con-
sidered himself financially unable to afford a horse. He fell in
love with the red feather on a lady's hat, married the woman,
and then charged her half the expenses of a honeymoon trip to
Philadelphia.
Born in November, i8o8,1 Tarleton was orphaned at an early
age. His father, a hunter by trade, died in 1811; his mother
died three years later. John was taken to Vermont to live with
an aunt who promised to educate him; his only brother went to
Virginia to make his home with other relatives. Having lost an
only son, the aunt with whom John lived insisted that he call
her mother, an appellation which the boy strongly resented.2
On one occasion he overheard his aunt tell a neighbor that
'There is some question as to the exact place and date of John Tarleton's birth.
Lillian Edwards in "Biography of John Tarleton," John Tarleton: A Memorial
to the Founder of Tarleton College (Stephenville, 1933), P. 47, says he was born
in White Mountain, Vermont, in 1811." J. C. George, Tarleton's lawyer, in "Tarle-
ton's Will," in ibid., p. 85, states: "He told me that he was born in the State of
New Hampshire; that is my recollection, at least, though there are other accounts
of his birth as having occurred in Vermont. I heard him speak of Vermont, and
it is likely as those two states adjoin, that the family resided near the line." In a
personal letter to Tarleton dated November 16, 1886 (MS. in Tarleton State Col-
lege Library), Mrs. Mary Louisa Johnson, Tarleton's former wife, remarked that
he would soon be celebrating his seventy-eighth birthday.
2Undated manuscript prepared by Mrs. Emma White for presentation to the
E. B. Criddle Historical Society of Denton, Texas (in possession of Mrs. Emma
White) .

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/. Accessed October 25, 2014.