Thomas William Ward, Republic Claim, October 13, 1840
Thomas William ("Peg Leg") Ward had immigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1828, at the age of 21, then made his way to New Orleans. In 1835, he answered the call for volunteers to fight Santa Anna's army and helped organize the New Orleans Greys. At the Siege of Bexar, Ward lost his leg to cannon fire. Legend has it that his leg was buried in the same grave as the body of Ben Milam.
After the revolution, Ward settled in Houston and became a general contractor, where he built the Texas capitol building in which the Congress of the Republic of Texas met. When the capital was moved to Austin, Ward came along, serving as clerk to the House of Representatives, then becoming mayor of Austin in the fall of 1840.
During this time, Ward submitted this intriguing claim for expenses he incurred as House clerk, including monies spent hiring an office porter, employing a servant of Mrs. Eberly to wash the House, and "2 loads hauling archives &c. to office from Capitol."
"Mrs. Eberly" was Angelina Belle Peyton Eberly, a local innkeeper. Mrs. Eberly had come to Texas with her first husband, Jonathan Peyton, in 1822, where they operated an inn and tavern in San Felipe de Austin. Peyton died in 1834, and San Felipe was destroyed during the Texas Revolution. Angelina remarried to Jacob Eberly and in 1839 moved to Austin, where she ran the Eberly House. Like many government officials, Sam Houston boarded with Mrs. Eberly; President Mirabeau B. Lamar and his cabinet ate dinner at her tavern.
In 1841, Ward became commissioner of the General Land Office. Shortly thereafter, he lost another limb, his right arm, when a cannon misfired during San Jacinto Day festivities. The following year he found himself under cannon fire again. Ward was ordered by President Houston to assist in the removal of the state archives from Austin. While the wagons were being loaded, Angelina Eberly fired a six-pound cannon at Ward and the others, alerting the citizens of Austin that the symbols of government were being removed from the city.
In later years, Ward served in a variety of government posts, including two more stints as mayor of Austin, U.S. consul to Panama, and customs collector in Corpus Christi. As for Mrs. Eberly, she continued her career as an innkeeper, running establishments in Port Lavaca and Indianola.
Thomas William Ward, Republic Claim, October 13, 1840, Republic of Texas Claims, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Page last modified: August 31, 2011