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early Texas entrepreneur
Nicholas Adolphus Sterne was born in Cologne, France, on April 5, 1801. He immigrated to the United States in 1817, settling in New Orleans.
In the early 1820's Sterne began an itinerate peddling trade in the country north of New Orleans. It was in this capacity that he first met Sam Houston, with whom he formed a lasting relationship. In 1826 he established a mercantile house in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Soon after his move to Nacogdoches, Sterne became involved with the Fredonian Rebellion, smuggling guns and other materials in barrels of coffee. Betrayed by spies in New Orleans, Sterne was arrested, tried for treason, and sentenced to be shot, but subsequently released on the promise that he would never again take up arms against the government.
Sterne adhered to the letter of his promise, but not to its spirit. He assisted the Texans in the 1832 Battle of Nacogdoches, and financed two companies of troops (known as the New Orleans Greys) during the Texas Revolution, but did not personally participate in any of the actual fighting. He supported most of Sam Houston's programs during the period of the Texas Republic, commanded a company of militia at the Battle of the Neches (July 16, 1839), and helped expel the Cherokees from East Texas.
Delving into the world of politics, Sterne became Postmaster at Nacogdoches in 1840. He subsequently served as Deputy Clerk and Associate Justice of the County Court, a Justice of the Peace, Deputy Clerk of the Board of Land Commissioners and Commissioner of Roads and Revenues for Nacogdoches County, member of the Board of Health, and Overseer of Streets for the Corporation of Nacogdoches. In 1847 he won election to represent Nacogdoches in the Texas House of Representatives, where he remained until being elected to the Texas State Senate in 1851.
Sterne died in New Orleans while on a business trip, on March 27, 1852. He is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches.
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This page was last updated on April 30, 2017.