The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942

LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS
DOCTOR JOHN SIBLEY AND THE LOUISIANA-TEXAS
FRONTIER, 1803-1814
JULIA KATHRYN GARRETT
Doctor John Sibley apparently was a "thinker and a doer,"
with strong acquisitive instincts and a will to flee from a life of
monotony. He was born of a sturdy New England family in
Massachusetts in the year of 1757. He began his life of
public service during the American Revolution, serving as a
surgeon's mate. After the close of the Revolution, he moved to
Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where he practiced medicine,
and acquired a wife and two sons. Then he moved to Fayette-
ville, North Carolina, where he accumulated town property,
farms, a newspaper, and a home. In 1790 his wife, Elizabeth
Hopkins Sibley, died. A year later he married a widow, Mary
Winslow. Soon misfortune took his properties, and it was said
that he fled to Spanish Louisiana to escape poverty and his second
wife.' The accusation that he was a wife deserter tormented him
when he was appointed to an official position in Orleans Ter-
ritory, not only because the accusation became local gossip, but
also because articles on the moral character of Sibley were given
space in the newspapers. Meanwhile President Jefferson was
forced to read letters on the subject. However, Jefferson declared
that the charge was without proof, and that it could not weigh
against the integrity of his character as affirmed by others and
against his unquestionable good sense and information; further-
more, that his industry and intelligence made him a valuable
officer.2
Sibley arrived in Spanish Louisiana in September, 1802, and
visited with men of importance. In 1803, he settled without his
'G. P. Whittington, "Doctor John Sibley of Natchitoches, 1757-1837,"
The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XX, October, 1927, 467-473.
'Clarence Edwin Carter (ed.), The Territorial Papers of the United
States, Orleans Territory (Washington, D. C., 1940), IX, 424, 356-357, 367-
368, 433-434, 450-451.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 45, July 1941 - April, 1942. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146053/. Accessed July 1, 2015.