JOHN IRELAND was born in Millerstown, Hart County, Kentucky. In his late teens he held the office of constable and was Deputy of Hart County from 1847 to 1850. He studied law and moved to Seguin, Texas after being admitted to the Bar. He enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private but rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He served as Mayor of Seguin, and as delegate to the Texas Constitutional Conventions of 1861 and 1866. Although he was elected a District Judge after the Civil War ended, he was removed from office by federal officials in 1867 during Reconstruction. He went on to be elected to both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, and was appointed an Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1875 but declined to seek reelection under the provisions of the 1876 Texas Constitution, which required the court to consist of three judges only. During Ireland’s two terms as governor, the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction was created, the permanent school fund was invested in bonds, and state troops were used to end a railroad strike in Fort Worth. Ireland later campaigned unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat, after which he returned to Seguin and his law practice. He died in San Antonio and was buried in Sequin.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.