A Girl Named Loise: 19th Century Documents Record Hidden Lives

By Richard Gilreath, Reference Archivist

Historical records at the State Archives provide insight into the lives of enslaved African Americans residing in Texas in the 19th century. Various government documents available through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) provide dates, names, and geographic locations important to family historians and other researchers hoping to identify individuals who may have lived in bondage. Deeds, wills, court cases and tax records are some of the evidentiary documents establishing intermittent timelines of those whose lives intersected with legal transactions, including those considered, under the law, as property. One such individual was a young African-American girl known as Loise. Loise makes several appearances in records dating from 1848 -1851. By using the names and locations mentioned in a single document as leads, we may follow Loise’s path for several years through the historical record.

We locate Loise on an 1849 Harris County tax-assessor’s deed which states that her owner, C. W. Bassett, owed the state back taxes. Loise was put up for auction. With no bidders, the State of Texas purchased her for $5.90.

This Harris County document reveals that C. W. Bassett owed back taxes for the year 1848. Tax Assessor and Collector, John N. Reed therefore levied “upon the following property of said C.W. Bassett to wit: One negro girl named Loise about ten years old slave for life.”
John N. Reed Deed, July 25, 1849, Miscellaneous File, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

In our Texas Treasures online exhibit, we noted that Loise’s fate is unknown. However, by using other resources available at TSLAC, we can develop a better understanding of the life of Loise after this point. Loise’s own voice and words are not reflected in the records, but we are able to reconstruct an incomplete timeline of her life through the probate records of Harris County. These records, which have been microfilmed, are part of our county records on microfilm.

The probate record refers to Loise as “Louisa.” These similar but slightly different names add an additional layer of uncertainty. However, we believe – based on the locations and times in which these individuals lived – that Loise and Louisa are the same individual.

Loise is first referred to in the Harris County probate record on August 28, 1848 with the assigned value of $100.00 and as the legal property of Adam Erastus Cloud. Cloud, a minor, was represented by his guardian, James Walker. However, the probate record shows Loise under the possession of Harris County Sheriff, D. Russell, not Cloud. Walker sought to acquire physical possession of slaves that Cloud claimed.

On July 25, 1849, records reveal that the tax assessor and collector for Harris County, John N. Reed, put up for public auction in Harris County the young girl named Loise. She was described as “about ten years old” and “a slave for life.” As no one bid on her, the state purchased Loise for $5.90. Her purchase by the state is listed in a Comptroller’s Office register of tax sales. The finding aid for these records is available online. Although the finding aid references the sales of land, sales of slaves are also included in the volumes.

In an entry in the probate record dated June 27, 1850 – nearly a year after the auction – James Walker and Adam Cloud continued to claim Loise as Cloud’s property. The record noted that she was gifted to Cloud by his grandfather’s will. Several other slaves claimed by Cloud were found in Brazoria County, on property owned by F.J. Calvit. James Walker filed a lawsuit against Calvit to claim the slaves on Cloud’s behalf.

Texas Supreme Court document M-2980 – part one. James Walker filed a lawsuit against F.J. Calvit to claim slaves on behalf of Adam Cloud.
Texas Supreme Court document M-2980 – part two.

This court case ultimately went to the Texas Supreme Court. The case file went missing, but TSLAC recovered a portion of the file in 2008. The portion of the case file recovered does not mention Loise. (You can read more about TSLAC’s replevin efforts here.)

The probate record also reveals some of the circumstances of the death of Clement N. Bassett. A petition by August C. Daws, dated November 11, 1850, averred that Bassett died in 1848 (though it did not provide the exact date). This petition noted that litigation was ongoing between Adam Erastus Cloud and Bassett regarding the ownership of Loise. Daws applied to be the administrator of Bassett’s estate and swore that Bassett died without writing a will.

Bassett’s widow, Julia, protested Daws’s application on November 16, 1850. In response to her protest, Loise was mentioned by name, and appraised at $375.00 by the court. She was noted to be “about thirteen years of age.” On January 28, 1851, Daws submitted a motion to withdraw his application for administration of the Bassett estate. He cited a decision against him in a lawsuit, which also referenced Loise, as his reason for withdrawing the application. The other party in this lawsuit is not mentioned, but may have been Julia Bassett.

On July 31, 1851, Adam Erastus Cloud appears again in the probate record. He reached 21 years of age and asked to receive property held by James Walker as his guardian. In this entry in the record, Loise is assigned a value of $400.00. An entry in the probate record on October 2 of that year reveals that legal difficulties still surrounded Loise. She was excepted from the property returned to Cloud by Walker, due to “the prosecution of the suit in the District Court … in favor of said Cloud against Clement N. Bassett for a negro girl Louisa, commenced by said defendant as Guardian of said Cloud.” It appears, at this time, that Loise worked for a man named James W. Henderson, also in Harris County.

The probate court ordered Loise be returned to Cloud, but that she would remain in Henderson’s possession until the conclusion of the suit in District Court. The probate record noted that Loise was hired by Henderson, rather than owned by him.

After October 1851, we did not find further reference to Loise in the probate record. Her exact fate remains unknown, but the probate record allows us to reconstruct claims over her ownership and have a sense of what may have happened to her. After Bassett died, she was moved to the property of Henderson. It appears that several of Cloud’s slaves were sent to work on others’ property during this time period, and that Cloud took legal action to attempt to recover them.

Loise and the other slaves owned by Cloud were discussed as property, and the impact these decisions would have on their lives was never considered in the record. We do not have documentation of the hardships Loise experienced and survived during this time. However, these records provide us with the opportunity to understand a little more about the lives of slaves like Loise, who, to the best of our knowledge, left no written record of her own experiences.

Additional records at TSLAC and other institutions may provide more of the story. Harris County District Court records might provide the court case records of Adam Cloud’s and James Walker’s efforts to claim ownership of Loise. Her descendants may know the rest of the story. If you have additional information regarding Loise, please contact us at: ref@tsl.texas.gov.

Meet the Staff: Naomi Frantes

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

A photograph of Cataloging and Metadata Librarian Naomi Frantes standing front of the pink granite wall of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building.
Cataloging and Metadata Librarian, Naomi Frantes

Describe your role at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).

I have the distinct privilege of creating metadata so that the vast resources of Archives and Information Services are discoverable by researchers here in Texas and around the world.  My responsibilities include creating catalog records for our archival collections, photograph collections, Texas state publications and United States government publications.  These collections and documents pertain to a wide variety of subjects and can be found in our online catalog. I also create personal and corporate name authority records; the records help ensure that researchers can find all the books by the same author or publications and collections by the same government agency.

Why did you choose your profession?

After high school, I went to a small college in Minnesota and was assigned to the library for my work study program.  I loved the job! My intent in attending college was to major in biology or chemistry but there were only a few science courses available at the small college.  My science professor encouraged me to transfer to a larger university, so I transferred to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Once again, I was assigned to work in the library. That position confirmed my desire to pursue a library career and I eventually graduated with a B.A. in history and German.  After taking a break from working to stay at home with my two children, I worked at the North Dakota State Library and obtained my Master’s Degree in Library Science.

What do you wish more people knew about TSLAC?

I wish more Texans knew about the vast array of services available from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  There is something here for everyone!  Besides the amazing historical resources we have in the ARIS Division, TSLAC also offers the Talking Book Program, which provides free library services to qualifying Texans with visual, physical, or reading disabilities. TSLAC also has the Center for the Book, which seeks to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries.  The Library Development and Networking Division provides online resources to the citizens and libraries of Texas and assists libraries and librarians in their efforts to serve their local constituents.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to hike, explore Texas, visit national and state parks, play French horn, scrapbook, cross-stitch, bake, and hang out with my husband, Mike. I also love spending time with my two children whenever I can.

Thanks, Naomi!

Out of the Stacks and Into the Catalog: Secrets to Search Fields and Operators

By Kelli Dover, Library Assistant

If your library catalog searches for items in the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) collections give you too few or too many results, or you are not finding exactly what you want, this post will help you utilize Boolean operators and special characters to maximize your search efforts.

To perform any catalog search, you will need to open the TSLAC Library Catalog search home page. (If you’re not sure how to get there, see our previous post in this series.) This article will focus on the search buttons (circled in red below). Future posts will address the radio buttons (keyword, browse, exact) and library options on the drop-down menu. For the purposes of this post, we will select the radio button for “keyword” and choose “*TX State Library & Archives Comm” for the library.  You are now ready to search the catalog in keyword mode.

library catalog search screen

On the search home page, there are three radio buttons to choose from, a library drop-down box and six different buttons indicating search type.

After typing in your search terms, click on one of the blue buttons (Words or Phrase, Author, Title, Subject, Series, and Periodical Title) to run a specific search type. It is important to understand what kinds of results each search will yield.

Words or Phrase: Results include your search terms as found anywhere in the catalog record. If you type in your search terms and press enter, this is the default search type used. Below is an example of a catalog record and all of the fields that may include your search term.

Author: Results include your search terms that are found only within the author fields. This can include corporate authors and additional authors. You can use first name, last name, or initials. Including a last name will provide the best results.

Title: Search mechanism limits the options to only the title fields in the catalog record. Note: Periodical Title is a separate search.

Subject: Results will include your search terms as found in the subject index. If you are not looking for a specific item, this search will pull up a range of titles that may be related to your research area of interest. While it may not include every item in our collection on the subject, it will give you an idea of the types of publications in our collection. Clicking on a subject in the catalog record will bring you to a list of items that have the same subject.

Series: Results will include your search terms as found within the series field. Government documents and academic journals are often entered as series. A series covers publications released in intervals though not necessarily with regularity. It may be best to use a Title search or Words or Phrase search if you’re not finding what you want.

Periodical Title: Results will include your search terms as found within the periodical titles field. Periodicals are released at regular intervals and they generally have multiple contributors. It may be best to use Title search or Words or Phrase search if you’re not finding what you want.

Now that you’ve selected the appropriate search type, we will focus on terminology. Search operators and special commands determine how the words will be used to search the catalog. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, refer to the list below. We have described the basic Boolean operators and some special characters you can utilize in your search.

Basic Boolean Search Operators and Special Commands:

AND finds only records containing all of the search words entered.

         Example: Texas AND Architecture

OR finds records containing one or both of the search words entered. This search operator provides broader results than using AND.

         Example: Cooking OR Baking

NOT finds records containing search words but excludes anything following NOT.

         Example: Architecture NOT Texas.

XOR finds records containing only one of the two words entered, not both.

         Example: Film XOR Music

: finds records containing the exact phrase found inside the quotations.

         Example: “Landscape design”

$ works as a stem/truncation search. The search will find records that begin with the stem of the word and are truncated by the $.

        Example: searching gov$ will find records for government, governor, governing,  govern, etc.

$# : If you want to limit the number of letters following the truncation, add the number sign after the dollar sign.

         Examples: gov$3 finds records for govern. gov$5 finds records for govern and governor.

? : this symbol will work as a wildcard letter in searches.

         Example: searching gr?y, will find records for both grey and gray.

Refining your search technique with search types, operators, and special commands will help get you the results you want. Keep checking our blog for more posts on how to use and navigate the catalog.

State Archives Offering Research Workshops on Second Saturdays

Beginning in January, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) will offer resource orientation workshops at 10 a.m. each Second Saturday of 2019. The workshops highlight key tools researchers may use at the State Archives or through the website, with each 20-minute session focusing on one essential resource. Reference staff will present on Texas city directories, county records, newspaper collections, vital statistics, U.S. Census records and Ancestry.com (Texas Collection).  The sequence repeats after the first cycle ends in June.

Researchers using Reference Library computers.

The free workshops should appeal to a wide range of patrons interested in library research. Those still familiarizing themselves with the assortment of access points one must navigate to discover source materials may find all of the topics germane, while the more practiced patrons may have specific collections in mind. Guests are invited to stay on and use TSLAC’s public service areas for their research activities until the library closes at 4 p.m. (Learn more about visiting the library here.) Here is the 2019 Second Saturday Workshop Series schedule:

Searching the Census Online                                              Jan. 12   |  July 13

Introduction to Newspaper Collections                                 March 9  |  Sept. 14          

Introduction to Texas County Records                                  April 13   |  Oct. 12

Ancestry.com Texas Collections                                           May 11   |  Nov. 9

Introduction to City Directories                                              June  8  |  Dec. 14

Registration is preferred but not required. Walk-ins are always welcome! For more information and to register visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/workshops.

Setting the Texas Table: “Dishing” on the Artifacts Collection at the Texas State Archives

By Rebecca Romanchuk, Archivist

[Texian Campaigne plates, 1840-1850. ATF0031b, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

Some of us are enjoying the cooler weather we’ve been having in Austin lately and the way it makes us feel the holiday season has really arrived. For most, the holidays are made more festive and meaningful by the foods we prepare and share with others: traditional dishes at family dinners, potluck parties with friends and coworkers, cookie exchanges, and volunteering for or contributing to organizations that provide meals to those in need. Food truly connects us all.

At the Texas State Archives, we’re putting the spotlight on the history of Texas agriculture and foodstuffs in our lobby exhibit Setting the Texas Table, on view through May 2019. You’re cordially invited to visit in person to see this diverse and professionally curated exhibit of original archival materials and selections from our library collection, or take a virtual tour through the online version linked in the logo below. Be prepared to have your appetite whetted!

Of course, you can’t set a table without dishes and various other tableware items. The State Archives’ Artifacts collection includes a number of such pieces, many with connections to the family of Texas Governor Elisha Marshall Pease. These are easily searched for in the Texas Digital Archive; go to the Artifacts collection main search page and enter keywords in the “search within” box, or begin filtering using the options on the left sidebar. You can search for soup bowls, saucers, coffee cups and teacups, demitasse and sake cups, coffee pots and pitchers, plates and platters, and even a chafing dish (anyone hungry yet?). Or, note the artifact number (ATF0###) of an item that interests you in the finding aid and use that as your keyword to go directly to digital images and description of that item.

Many of the Pease table items are of two different Victorian-era designs: floral flow blue and what may be pink Sunderland lusterware (described as “orchid pink and white” in the Artifacts description). Both are varieties of transferware pottery made in England and commonly exported to the United States in the 19th century. The designs were produced by inking a copper plate onto which the design had been engraved, pressing paper onto the inked plate, then applying the still-wet inked paper onto the ceramic piece to transfer the design to it. This process was much less expensive than hand-painting. Imagine the dining table at the Governor’s Mansion or at Woodlawn, the Pease family mansion, laid out with a full set of either of these designs. Victorians adored vibrant color!

floral flow blue soup bowls

[Floral flow blue soup bowls, 1850-1900. ATF0232, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

floral flow blue covered tureen dish

[Floral flow blue covered tureen dish, 1890-1900. ATF0227, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

coffee pot with lid

[Coffee pot with lid (possibly Sunderland lusterware), 1850-1900. ATF0236, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

Take a close look at the transfer pattern on the pink dessert dishes below. This is the Mother’s Grave design, featuring a boy and girl, with an accompanying small child, gazing mournfully at a gravestone in a picturesque churchyard setting. Mourning pieces such as these were commonly used by Victorian households to memorialize a departed family member. These dishes honor the daughter of Governor and First Lady Pease, Carrie Augusta Pease Graham, whose children came to live at Woodlawn to be raised by their grandmother and aunt, after their mother’s death in 1882. Descendants of those children donated the Pease tableware to the State Archives. They said Carrie Graham’s children hoped that all these dishes would be broken so they wouldn’t have to eat from them any longer. It’s easy to empathize with that wish, though we’re lucky to have these objects survive to provide a glimpse into the personal experiences of the Pease/Graham family and the traditions of the time.

dessert dishes

[Dessert dishes (possibly Sunderland lusterware), 1850-1900. ATF0241, Artifacts collection. Archives and Information Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

You can learn more about one of the Graham children, businessman and prominent Austin citizen R. Niles Graham, and his extended family from his collection of papers and photographs at the State Archives. Several dozen items once belonging to the Graham family are also part of our Artifacts collection.

Enjoy exploring all the charming tableware in the Artifacts collection and setting your own table to welcome others during the holidays.


Featured Collection: Textiles and Apparel

Information Services staff invite you to enjoy our updated Featured Collection display, on view through January 2019 at the Lorenzo de Zavala building, room 109.  To coincide with the colder winter months, the selection celebrates the textiles and apparel industry for producing the fabrics and garments which warm us.  Below is a summary of materials featured in the display.

Call No. Title Author Collection
391.04 R424 $10 horse, $40 saddle : cowboy clothing, arms, tools, and horse gear of the 1880’s Rickey, Don Main
Z TT422.8 P416fi A perfect fit : the garment industry and American Jewry (1860-1960) Goldstein, Gabriel M. TXD
Z TT422.8 AM65SE 2003 A separate sphere : dressmakers in Cincinnati’s golden age, 1877-1922 Amnéus, Cynthia TXD
Z TT422.8 H551AM American menswear : from the Civil War to the twenty-first century Hill, Daniel Delis TXD
Z TT422.8 H551AS As seen in Vogue : a century of American fashion in advertising Hill, Daniel Delis TXD
746.43 H839a AwareKnits : knit & crochet projects for the eco-conscious stitcher Howell, Vickie Main
Z TT422.8 C623 Clothing and textile collections in the United States : a CSA guide Queen, Sally TXD
I 29.2:C 62 Clothing for ladies and gentlemen of higher and lower standing : a working pamphlet to aid the imitators of New England citizens of the eighteenth century Hicks, Marjorie USD
SI 1.28:42 Cutting a fashionable fit : dressmakers’ drafting systems in the United States Kidwell, Claudia Brush USD
391 K811D Dress clothing of the Plains Indians Koch, Ronald P. Main
Z TT422.8 B431EM Embroiderers of Ninhue : stitching Chilean rural life Benavente, Carmen TXD
Z TT422.8 C150fo Forbidden fashions : invisible luxuries in early Venetian convents Campagnol, Isabella TXD
Z TT422.8 G195AR M. de Garsault’s 1767 Art of the shoemaker : an annotated translation Garsault, François A. de (François Alexandre) TXD
Z TT422.8 C654ma Managing costume collections : an essential primer Coffey-Webb, Louise TXD
D 101.11:10-3530-203-20 P Organizational maintenance repair parts and special tools lists : textile repair shop, trailer mounted (York Astro model D8700477, FSN 3530-819-2008; Army model SPV 35) (York Astro model D8700540, FSN 3530-900-8352) … clothing repair shop, trailer mounted (York Astro model D8700337, FSN 3530-819-2007, Army model SPV 34) United States. Department of the Army USD
SI 1.28:49 Technology in miniature : American textile patent models, 1819-1840 Janssen, Barbara Suit USD
745.5 M381 1946B The book of Indian-crafts and costumes Mason, Bernard Sterling Main
391.2 T768 The First Ladies in fashion Truett, Randle Bond Main
Z TT422.8 M421SU The sunbonnet : an American icon in Texas Matheson, Rebecca Jumper TXD
Z UA380.8 R79WE Weaving and dyeing in highland Ecuador Rowe, Ann P. TXD
Z TT422.8 M421yo Young Originals : Emily Wilkens and the teen sophisticate Matheson, Rebecca Jumper, TXD

Please see a librarian in room 109 if you are interested in checking out any of the circulating materials.

Military Rolls Reflect Alliances Between American Indian Tribes and the Republic of Texas

By Caroline Jones, Reference Archivist

Some may be surprised to know that during the Republic of Texas era (1836-1845), American Indians served as Texas Rangers. Here at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), we have military rolls for three American Indian units: Mounted Rangers 3rd Brigade, Texas Militia, commanded by James H. Durst; Company of Shawnee Indians, 3rd Brigade, Mounted, commanded by Panther; and volunteers (against Comanches) commanded by Lipan Apache Chief Castro. Letters from the Andrew Jackson Houston collection provide background and context for the arrangements.

Under a September 1836 agreement between President Sam Houston and the Cherokee and Shawnee chiefs, the tribes were to provide 25 rangers to patrol the northwest regions of their villages in order to keep members of the Caddo and Wichita tribes away. The Texas government would pay each ranger $10 a month and they would also be allowed to keep any goods they acquired from assaults on tribes that were considered “wild.” For others to distinguish these rangers from the “wild Indians,” they were instructed to wear a white feather on their head. Such arrangements are detailed in the letters of Sam Houston, part of our Andrew Jackson Houston collection at TSLAC. During the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas on June 12, 1837, lawmakers authorized the hiring of members of the Shawnee, Delaware, Cherokee and other tribes as scouts and spies for the Texas government.

Letter from Sam Houston to Captain of the Cherokee Rangers, September 23, 1836, authorizing him to recruit 25 Cherokees to range for $10 a month, Page 1. Document 548, Andrew Jackson Houston collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

At the age of 20, James H. Durst led a company of 58 Anglo-European and American Indian Texas Rangers into battle against the Cherokees. Durst’s unit of mounted Texas Rangers was mustered into service December 1, 1838 and mustered out January 25, 1839.  Durst is considered to be among the first official Texas Rangers.

Muster Roll of Capt. James Durst Company of Mounted Rangers. Durst, James H.–Mounted Rangers [3rd Brigade, Texas Militia]: [Indians] December 1, 1838-January 25, 1839, Republic of Texas Militia military rolls, Republic of Texas military rolls, Military rolls, Texas Adjutant General’s Department. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Within our Andrew Jackson Houston Collection, we have several letters between Sam Houston and young James H. Durst, his uncle John Durst, and his father Joseph Durst who was serving as Indian Commissioner at the time.

Letter from James Durst to Sam Houston regarding dealings with members of American Indian tribes. Document 2637, Andrew Jackson Houston collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

A leading member of the Shawnees, Captain Panther also led a unit of mounted Texas Rangers. They were mustered into service November 25, 1838 and mustered out January 25, 1839. Panther served alongside Durst and fellow Shawnee interpreter Spy Buck. These Shawnee mounted rangers were paid $25 a month, the same as other Texas Rangers. Panther was paid the same rate as other captains at $60 a month.

Panther–Company of Shawnee Indians [3rd Brigade] [mounted]: November 25, 1838-January 25, 1839, Republic of Texas Militia military rolls, Republic of Texas military rolls, Military rolls, Texas Adjutant General’s Department. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Castro’s volunteer unit of Lipan Apaches served between January 25 and February 25, 1839. The unit was organized specifically to fight against Comanches. Lipan Apaches were often involved in military campaigns of the Spanish, Mexican, Tejano, and Anglo groups. Castro and Lipan Apache Chief Flacco helped Captain James H. Moore destroy a Comanche village in 1840. The Lipan Apache had been pushed out of the Texas prairies by the Comanche and were seeking revenge.

Castro (Captain)–Indians who volunteered (against Comanches): January 25-February 25, 1839, Republic of Texas Militia military rolls, Republic of Texas military rolls, Military rolls, Texas Adjutant General’s Department. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

These are only a few examples of the complex relationship between local tribes and Texans during the Republic era. For more reading on American Indian Rangers and Texas politics, see the following list of resources available through TSLAC:

The conquest of Texas : ethnic cleansing in the promised land, 1820-1875 Anderson, Gary Clayton 305.8 An235c Main (non-circulating)
The Armstrong chronicle : a ranching history Smith, Diane Solether 929.2 AR57S Main (non-circulating)
Indian exodus: Texas Indian affairs, 1835-1859 Neighbours, Kenneth F. 970.464 N316 Main (circulating)
Texas Indian papers Texas State Library. Archives Division. 970.5 T31 V.1-4 Main (circulating)
Tracking the Texas Rangers : the nineteenth century Glasrud, Bruce A. editor of compilation. Z N745.8 G463tr Texas Documents (circulating)
Savage frontier : rangers, riflemen, and Indian wars in Texas Moore, Stephen L. Z N745.8 M786SA V.1-2 Texas Documents (circulating)
Single star of the West : the Republic of Texas, 1836-1845 Howell, Kenneth Wayne Z N745.8 Si64 Texas Documents (circulating)

Andrew Jackson Houston collection legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30197/tsl-30197.html

Texas Comptroller’s Office, Republic Claims Index: www.tsl.texas.gov/app/arc/repclaims/

“Native American Relations in Texas”: www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/indian/index.html

Outside Sources:

Hispanic and American Indian Texas Rangers: www.texasranger.org/texas-ranger-museum/researching-rangers/hispanic-and-american-indian-texas-rangers/

James H. Durst: tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdu54

Chief Castro: tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fca92

Shawnee Indians: tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bms25

Apache Indians: tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bma33

Indians: tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bzi04

THRAB Offers Free SAA Webinar: Metadata Overview for Archivists

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) is pleased to offer a FREE webcast course presented by the Society of American Archivists.”Metadata Overview for Archivists” is a 90-minute on-demand webinar that provides the basics of descriptive, technical, structural, and administrative metadata. This foundational webinar will help participants define the basic concepts of metadata, identify sources and types, assess how much metadata is enough, and more.

THRAB will also cover the cost of DAS-enrolled candidates to take the exam. Enrollment for this webinar is limited to 30 registrants and only one registrant per Texas archival repository. Preference will be given to those from smaller and mid-sized institutions and those wishing to take the exam. Registration requests will be accepted until November 21, 2018 and notifications will be sent by November 27, 2018. THRAB requests that participants complete the course by December 28, 2018.

To register, please submit this THRAB Professional Development Workshop form.

Sponsored by the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Funding provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

State Archives Resources Contribute to the Rediscovery of San Felipe de Austin

By Michael Rugeley Moore

Stephen F. Austin founded San Felipe de Austin in 1823 with high ambitions. He laid out an expansive town plat that he intended to one day serve as the capital city of Texas.Thirteen years later, his village lay as smoldering ashes, completely destroyed during the “Runaway Scrape” in the Texas Revolution (1835-1836). Another town named for Austin ultimately became the capital.

The significant story of San Felipe, the Villa de Austin, became lost as did the evidence of the town itself. Blocks that once housed hotels, stores, workshops and houses reverted to cattle pastures. San Felipe’s municipal archives were destroyed or dispersed in the evacuation and burning of the town. Recovering that story and identifying specific locations for those buildings have occupied more than two decades of my research efforts.  Resources of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) have been key to many of my discoveries.

The new museum at the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, Courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission.

The new museum at the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site, Courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission.

In 2018, the Texas Historical Commission opened a new museum and expanded interpretation for the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site. Items from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission are prominently featured in the exhibits and programs.  More critically, TSLAC resources helped recover the site’s story and have led to exciting archeological finds. I am very grateful to the Archives staff for their help in my research visits and requests for scanning of illustrations and archival items used in the exhibits.  I encourage everyone to visit the new museum and experience this rediscovered story of the life and cataclysmic death of San Felipe de Austin.

I wanted to share a few anecdotes that demonstrate how TSLAC resources make a critical difference in the understanding of San Felipe’s story and significance.


The Texas Revolution was governed from San Felipe’s Council Hall that served the San Felipe Committee of Safety, the November 1835 Consultation, and the Provisional Government established by the Consultation.  Until the discovery of a rental receipt in the State Archives collection, it was not known where these governmental bodies met.  The Council Hall, it turns out, was a rental building owned by San Felipe merchant Joseph Urban.

Rental receipt for use of the council hall, dated February 7, 1836. Records of the Quartermaster General, 1835-1836, Army Papers, Texas Adjutant General’s Department. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The most dramatic month in the history of San Felipe began with the receipt of William Barret Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter from the Alamo.  This document, perhaps the most famous single item in the TSLAC collection, was addressed “To The People of Texas and All Americans” with Travis’ instructions to “Send this to San Felipe by Express night & day.”

Portrait of William B. Travis by Henry McArdle, McArdle Notebooks. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Texas had no functional government at the time, with the Provisional Government adjourned until the March 1836 Convention at Washington gaveled into session. San Felipe’s citizens responded immediately, forming a militia company under Moseley Baker, and having them march to help defend the Alamo. Printer Gail Borden, joined by the ladies of the town, presented the company a flag based on Stephen F. Austin’s design.  Baker’s company, however, had only made it as far as Gonzales when news arrived of the fall of the Alamo.

Austin National Flag, Historic flags collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Gail Borden and his partners had established a printing office in San Felipe de Austin in the fall of 1835. Issues of their Telegraph and Texas Register and separate broadside imprints from their press documented the Texas Revolution. Much of their printing was done for the Texas government.  A list of their most famous imprints of February and March of 1836 are listed on an invoice to the Government of Texas, including “Travis letter” on February 29th, the “Declaration of Independence” on March 5th, and a broadside announcing the fall of the Alamo on March 16th.

Baker & Bordens Invoice, Texas Secretary of State public printing records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

San Felipe merchant Nathaniel Townsend wrote “in haste” on March 16th saying “We have recd [received] intelligence which can be relied on that the Alamo is taken and every man in it massacred, and that our forces are retreating from Gonzales.”  Throngs of families fled their homes in the Runaway Scrape to escape along with the army.

Nathaniel Townsend, Photograph of portrait, Margaret Robertson Collection 1962/279, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

On March 28th, Houston’s army arrived on the outskirts of San Felipe.Texian officers came into town to requisition supplies for their men. Juan Seguin received round jackets, vests, trousers, and shoes to outfit several of his men. Captains Baker, McIntyre and Eberly also supplied their men from the stores, as did the army’s quartermaster, Major Edward Winfield.

Requisition by Juan Seguin from P. B. Dexter’s San Felipe store, Republic Claims #1246 025:647.

Having resupplied from San Felipe’s stores, Sam Houston’s army marched northward toward Groce’s Ferry. Two companies refused to follow, and Houston ordered each to defend their  local Brazos River crossings. Moseley Baker’s San Felipe company was ordered to burn the town on sight of the Mexican Army to deny them the logs that could be used to build rafts to cross the Brazos. On the night of March 29, 1836, Baker’s company burned San Felipe to the ground. Houston later disclaimed having given the order, but the “Board of Examination” paid most claims for the destruction of San Felipe property as an official act of the army. Nathaniel Townsend, for example, had a claim of more than $11,000 paid for the value of his buildings and store merchandise.

Republic Claims, Nathaniel Townsend, Audited Claim, #9172 106:179.

Perhaps the single most important discovery in the TSLAC Republic Claims receipts was a request by San Felipe merchant Joseph Urban for reimbursement of his losses in buildings, furnishings and merchandise amounting to more than $8,500.  His claim provides important details of building sizes and functions in the village. Of particular importance was his claim for the burning of “The Courthouse 26 feet by 22 feet.”  Two witnesses who testified to his loss added that this building was the one “in which Court was held in said town and in which the convention was held….”

Republic Claims, Joseph Urban, Unpaid Claim, 257:463.

This claim also provided important clues about Urban’s own dwelling house and its brick cellar. It had begun its life as the Farmer’s Hotel, with a cellar used for storage or perhaps brewing. Because of the resources of the Texas State Archives, the buildings on this one lot are now some of the best documented of any in the village. Archeological excavations are adding to that knowledge and will form the basis for many future exhibits and educational programs.

Interactive mural of the village of San Felipe de Austin, with Joseph Urban’s buildings depicted on the right.

Interactive mural of the village of San Felipe de Austin, with Joseph Urban’s buildings depicted on the right. Courtesy of Cortina Productions.


Excavation of the brick cellar of the Urban dwelling,

Excavation of the brick cellar of the Urban dwelling, Courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission.

During my research at the Texas State Archives every member of the staff proved helpful, particularly Tonia Wood, who helped coordinate the scanning requests for items to be used in the exhibit design process. I would also like to acknowledge the important role of the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas, who provided grant funding to TSLAC to digitize and host the Republic Claims in an online database. This one resource was one of the most critical in rediscovering San Felipe’s story and built environment.

On behalf of the San Felipe de Austin project team, we say “thank you” to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for preserving these important items of Texas history and making them available for the Texas Historical Commission to feature in the exhibits at the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site.

About the Author:

Michael Rugeley Moore served as project historian for the San Felipe de Austin development as a volunteer and contractor to the Texas Historical Commission.  He wrote the exhibit narrative, assembled graphic support for the exhibit and authored the San Felipe de Austin Site Guide.  His connections to the Texas State Archives go back almost 50 years, where his first training in primary source research was provided by his grandmother, Helen Rugeley, who served for more than 20 years as editor of the Austin Genealogical Society Quarterly.

NASA Turns 60 – Featured Collection in the Reference Reading Room

By Stephanie Andrews, Library Assistant

ARIS invites you to check out the newest featured book display now up in the Reference Reading Room. NASA Turns 60 features publications from our MAIN, Texas Documents, and U.S. Documents collections. From its humble beginnings as the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, explore our out-of-this-world resources that examine the founding and history of this exciting federal agency.

To search for these books and more, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog. If you are interested in checking out a title on our Featured Collection shelf, please visit the Reference Desk in room 109. Below is a complete list of titles you’ll find on our Featured Collection shelf for October and November.

522 EV15B
Big and bright : a history of the McDonald Observatory
Evans, David Stanley

522.2919 Sc83a
Adventure in space : the flight to fix the Hubble
Scott, Elaine

523 Sc83c
Close encounters : exploring the universe with the Hubble Space Telescope
Scott, Elaine

629.4 B743o
Our Space Program
Bredeson, Carmen

629.40973 N1
NASA factbook; guide to National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs and activities
Renetzky, Alvin

629.45 K863f
Failure is not an option : mission control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and beyond
Kranz, Gene

Z UA380.8 P281we
We could not fail : the first African Americans in the space program
Paul, Richard

Z UA380.8 W736La OVER-T
Last launch : Discovery, Endeavor, Atlantis
Winters, Dan

Z TA475.8 H883DE
The Development of Propulsion Technology for U.S. Space-Launch Vehicles, 1926-1991
Hunley, J. D.

Y 4.SCI 2:115-04
NASA: past, present, and future : hearing before the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifteenth Congress, first session, February 16, 2017
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

NAS 1.2:K 38
Kennedy Space Center Story
Harris, Gordon L.
Some items have been held behind the desk due to fragility or rareness of the item. The following items can be requested from the Information Services staff at the Reference Desk in room 109.

NAS 1.86:ST 2/DVD
Journey to the Stars
Emmart, Carter

NAS 1.86:IM 1/CD
The First Forty Years: A Collection of Selected Images
Goddard Space Flight Center. Office of Public Affairs.

NAS 1.86:AP 4/2/2004/CD
Remembering Apollo 11: The 35th Anniversary Data Archive CD-ROM
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. History Office.

NAS 1.86:SU 7/5/DVD
Mysteries of the Sun
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NAS 1.86:P 23/DVD
NASA’s Earth Observatory presents: National Parks–from Space
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NAS 1.2:T 69/2/KIT
Space Travel Hazards [game]: How Safely Can You Travel Through Space?
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.