The Yellow Stone
The steamboat Yellow Stone was built in 1831 for the fur trade and became the first steamboat to navigate the shallow waters of the upper Missouri River. In 1836, the boat was purchased by the firm of McKinney & Williams for use in the cotton trade. The firm also used it to move ammunition and volunteers for the Texas Revolution.
On March 31, 1836, Sam Houston impressed the Yellow Stone into service to ferry his army across the flooding Brazos River. Beginning on April 12, the Yellow Stone began a series of seven trips transporting the Texas army into place at Groce's Landing. Houston later said the boat's service enabled his army to "save Texas."
On April 15, Houston released the boat, and it steamed down the Brazos to Galveston, braving Mexican gunfire from the shore. On April 26, President David G. Burnet and his cabinet took refuge on board the Yellow Stone. A week later, on May 4, the Yellow Stone took Burnet and the cabinet to Buffalo Bayou to negotiate with the captured Santa Anna. Over the next several days, the boat ferried a number of passengers, including Houston and Santa Anna, as the negotiations took place.
The Yellow Stone is known to have transported the body of Stephen F. Austin to his burial place at Peach Point Plantation in December 1836. It also moved the Texas government to the city of Houston in the spring of 1837.
After that, the Yellow Stone disappears from history, and its eventual fate is uncertain.
Commandancy of Galveston
April 30th 1836
Lieut Mellen, of Capt Turner’s Com-
pany of Regulars, goes up in the Steam Boat Yellow Stone
to day for the purpose of getting the baggage of that
excellent and efficient company left behind when it
came down. You will greatly oblige me by facilitating
his return. The S. Boat, Laura, left this place while
I was absent, at Head Quarters, and took off the only
Flatt boat we had here for landing cargoes, etc. The
Laura returned without the Boat, which I understood
from the Capt was taken on by the volunteers on Board.
We have two vessels to unload here and one boat ___ [?]
and Horses to bring to the Island but no Boat—
may I ask the further favor that you will be pleased
to see that the Boat is delivered up immediately to
Lieut. M and sent down here. One of the vessels here will
be on a heavy demurrage in a day or two, all for wanting
a Boat to land cargo. And we cannot even get necessities [?]
for the moment, on shore, for the Troops here, fish out of her.
The importance of maintaining this post and believing it
well maintained, and that by Regulars too is _____ [?]
to yourself, and to the President who is, on the spot, to
need one word said on the subject from me. I
would beg leave however to respectfully suggest that
more regular troops be sent down as soon as possible
for I am disposed to do with as few volunteers at this Port
as possible. Capt Turner has suggested to me that Lieut.
Heath was expected in Camp with some 20 or 30 Regulars
James Morgan to Sam Houston, April 30, 1836. Andrew Jackson Houston Collection #416, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.