Brackenridge, LaPrelle and Talbot Families Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
John Brackenridge (1772 – May 2, 1844) was the first minister of the First Presbyterian Church, St. Andrew’s, in Washington D.C. and was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate in 1811. This tradition of Presbyterianism is evident in the following generations. His son, John Adams Brackenridge (1800-1862), was a well known attorney who practiced law in Warrick County, Indiana, where he became acquainted with a young Abraham Lincoln. John Adams Brackenridge married Isabella McCulloch, a native of Kentucky, and had eight children: John Thomas Brackenridge (1828-1906), George Washington Brackenridge (1832-1920), James Madison Brackenridge (1834-1905), Mary Eleanor Brackenridge (1837-1924), Robert John Brackenridge (1839-1918), Leonora Brackenridge Matthews (1842-1918), Elizabeth Ann “Lizzy” Brackenridge (1845-1847), and Elizabeth Ann “Lilly” Brackenridge (1848-1856).
In 1853, the family moved to Jackson County, Texas. Some of the Brackenridge children stayed in Indiana to attend college before reuniting with the family in Texas. John Thomas Brackenridge (1828-1906) attended Indiana State University and Bloomington Law School before being admitted to the bar in 1851. He practiced law at Boonville until 1854, when he moved to Texana, Texas. George Washington Brackenridge attended Hanover College, Indiana University, and Harvard University. His younger brother, Robert J. Brackenridge, would also attend Hanover College in 1860. Mary Eleanor Brackenridge graduated from Anderson Female Seminary in New Albany, Indiana in 1855 and then rejoined the family in Jackson County, Texas.
Continuing the family’s Presbyterian tradition, in 1855 John Adams Brackenridge founded one of the first Presbyterian Churches in Texas in Edna. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Brackenridge family’s allegiance was divided between the Union and the Confederate States. While father John Adams and son George Washington sided with the Union, sons John Thomas, James Madison, and Robert J. Brackenridge all joined the Confederate army with John Thomas reaching the rank of Major. John Adams Brackenridge died in 1862.
Major John Thomas Brackenridge (1828-1906) became a cashier for the San Antonio National Bank in 1866. In 1877 he was president of the First National Bank of Austin and then later the Lone Star Ice Company. He strongly opposed the gold standard in the early 1900s, a monetary system that directly links a currency’s value to a fixed quantity of gold. John Thomas Brackenridge married twice: first to E. R. Smith of Boonville, Indiana and then to Mary E. Dupuy in Jackson County, Texas. He died in San Antonio on March 3, 1906, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.
George Washington Brackenridge (1832-1920) worked in the U.S. Treasury Department during the Civil War and in 1866 organized the San Antonio National Bank. From 1883 to 1906 he was president of the San Antonio Water Works Company. He was president of the San Antonio Loan and Trust, director of the Express Publishing Company, and president of the San Antonio school board. He became a regent of the University of Texas in November 1886 and continued as such until January 1911. He was again a regent from August 1917 to January 1919. As chairman of the committee on university land from 1889 to 1911, he aided in collecting back rents on university properties and placing them on a paying basis. Though he was more closely associated with San Antonio, he was a backer of the First National Bank in Austin and along with his two brothers was an influential figure in the real estate industries within Travis and Bexar counties. In fact, the Brackenridge land holdings extended across ten counties in eastern and central Texas. Many of his philanthropic gifts were in the form of land donations in Austin and San Antonio. He was never married. He died in San Antonio on December 28, 1920, and was buried in the family cemetery near Edna, Jackson County. The bulk of his fortune went to the George W. Brackenridge Foundation for education.
James Madison Brackenridge (1834-1905) pursued a career in law after the war and eventually became a judge. He was married and had two children: Isabella Brackenridge Roberts and Capt. John Adams Brackenridge
Mary Eleanor Brackenridge (1837-1924) was an advocate for women’s rights both in Texas and nationally. After the Civil War, she and her mother moved into the San Antonio home of her brother, George Washington Brackenridge. He appointed her director of the San Antonio National Bank and the San Antonio Loan and Trust. She was active in many women’s clubs, including the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Texas Mothers' Congress, the Order of the Eastern Star, and the Presbyterian Church. She was a firm believer in prohibition and a strong supporter of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She founded the Woman's Club of San Antonio and served as its president for seven years. She was elected president of the San Antonio Equal Franchise Society and in April 1913 she became president of the Texas Woman Suffrage Association. She was among the first women to sit on the governing board of a Texas university, the College of Industrial Arts, a state-supported college for women which later became Texas Woman’s University. In 1916 a dormitory was named in her honor. She never married. She died in San Antonio on February 14, 1924 and was buried in the Brackenridge family cemetery near Edna in Jackson County.
Leonora Brackenridge Matthews (1842-1918) was married and had three children, Eleanor Matthews, John Matthews, and Bessie Matthews McIntyre.
Dr. Robert John Brackenridge (1839-1918) attended Rusk Medical College in Chicago, Illinois after the Civil war, graduating in 1867. He moved to Austin in 1874 and became a cashier at First National Bank of Austin. He married Mary Lyons in 1885 and they had one daughter, Mary Eleanor Brackenridge. He was president of the Frontier Telephone and Telegraph Company. He was active in the First Presbyterian Church and in many religious endeavors. In 1886 he helped establish an organization known as the Seven Churches, which sought to promote practical and everyday religion, and for many years he served as president of the Austin Bible Society. He was an active worker in the bond election in 1914 to build a new city hospital, which was renamed Brackenridge Hospital in his honor about 1930. He died in Austin on June 26, 1918.
In 1910, Mary Eleanor Brackenridge (1885-1947), Dr. Robert J. Brackenridge’s daughter, married John LaPrelle, Jr. (1884-1931), son of John LaPrelle, Sr. (1856-1933) and Rosa Fanny Talbot LaPrelle (1858-1936), prominent greengrocers and business people in Marlin, Texas. Mary Eleanor and John LaPrelle, Jr. had two children, Robert B. LaPrelle (1911-1961) and Rosa LaPrelle Fletcher. Eleanor’s sister-in-law is May LaPrelle Price (1893-1979), daughter of John LaPrelle, Sr. and Rosa Talbot LaPrelle.
The materials in this collection date from roughly 1839 to the late 1950s; however, the bulk of the materials date to the period between 1870 and 1920. The collection is divided into two series: (I) the Brackenridge Family Papers and (II) the LaPrelle and Talbot Family Papers.
The Brackenridge Family Papers series gives a snapshot of the social and business activities of the wealthy and prominent Brackenridge family, dating from 1794-1984. The majority of the records in this series were produced by Dr. Robert J. Brackenridge (1839–1918) in relation to his work as the president of the Frontier Telephone and Telegraph Company, as Treasurer at First National Bank, and his various personal land deeds and holdings in east and central Texas as well as his participation with the Presbyterian Church. Records relating to Dr. Brackenridge’s personal business activities include correspondence in regards to his position as a Texas land agent and leasing landlord—specifically, land deeds, rent contracts, payments, and land improvement records. Business materials include correspondence and records regarding his role as the President of the Frontier Telephone and Telegraph Company, one of the first to bring service to parts of Texas. There are also records of his time as Treasurer of First National Bank, including payroll checks for Texas Presbyterian University, an institution that eventually went defunct. Additionally, there is a large book of letter and telegraph copies dating from 1884 to 1890. Mary Lyons Brackenridge’s (1857 -1938) file includes ephemera, deeds, wills, and calling cards from social visits. Additionally, there are loose photos and a photo album featuring daguerreotype portraits of close family and friends as well as relatives in Missouri.
There is also evidence of the Brackenridge’s influence within Texas due to their sizeable land holdings not only in Travis County but in counties all over east and central Texas including Bexar, Jackson, Burnet, Harris, Wharton, Caldwell, and Lavaca. The Brackenridge brothers exchanged ownership of these land holdings multiple times. Materials in the Brackenridge Family Land Holdings file include land deeds and tax receipts for properties in the aforementioned Texas counties.
Among the printed materials in this series, there are an assortment of financial ledgers dating between 1839 and 1851, two of which belonged to John Adams Brackenridge and were used in his law practice. Another ledger was owned by Mary Lyons Brackenridge. The fourth ledger dating from 1839 appears to be a store accounts book whose connection to the Brackenridge, LaPrelle and Talbot families is unknown. Additionally, there are two copies of the Hanover College (Indiana) yearbook, one dated 1890-91 and the other dated 1906. A small Indiana booklet entitled History of Warrick’s Prominent People” dated 1909 mentions the Brackenridge family. There are also loose pages from a partially completed scrapbook which includes a death notice for Texas Governor Elisha Marshall Pease, John Thomas Brackenridge’s articles against the gold standard and small portrait photos of Robert J. Brackenridge and Mary Eleanor Brackenridge LaPrelle as a young girl.
A small file of Brackenridge family genealogy items includes biographical notes, headstone transcriptions and headstone purchase records. Notably, there are two newspaper clippings that document not only the Brackenridge family’s lineage but also their acquaintance with a young Abraham Lincoln in Indiana prior to the family’s relocation to Texas. Other materials include a fiftieth anniversary program for the First Presbyterian Church of Austin dated 1850-1900 and assorted travel items.
John Thomas Brackenridge’s (1828–1906) records include several speeches, including one from his run for appointment as delegate for the 1884 presidential election.George Washington Brackenridge’s (1832–1920) file contains several letters addressed to family members regarding financial information and real estate dealings. Mary Eleanor Brackenridge’s (1837–1924) file includes a letter written on a trip to Alaska and British Columbia in 1900 as well as an account of her finances from 1905.
Materials not available in this collection include information regarding George Washington Brackenridge’s time as a UT provost, or any information regarding Mary Eleanor Brackenridge’s work as a suffragette, or of James Madison Brackenridge’s (1834-1905) work as a judge.
The LaPrelle and Talbot Family series is much smaller than the Brackenridge Family series and includes documents and personal papers related to these extended families. The daughter of Dr. R. J. Brackenridge and Mary Lyons, Mary Eleanor Brackenridge LaPrelle’s (1885-1947) file includes a personal diary with entries dating from 1897 through 1899 as well as some correspondence between herself and her family via telegram and letter during a lengthy European vacation in 1921. Additionally, there are several pages of loose family photos. Her son, Robert LaPrelle (1911-1961) , has correspondence with his father on a trip to Denver and then later correspondence to his grandmother from Exeter Academy in Connecticut. John LaPrelle, Sr.’s (1856-1933) materials consist of correspondence from his children and letters to his wife. Rosa Fanny Talbot LaPrelle’s (1858-1936) as well as James and Mary Talbot’s materials consist mainly of letters and notes from family, friends and cousins.
Following this there is a Talbot family genealogy that includes several newspaper clippings as well as handwritten and typed notes on the Talbot family lineage. Finally, there is a miscellaneous file with newspaper clippings and letters related to the Rucker family, whose connection to the other families in this series is uncertain. Other materials include assorted printed and handwritten poems, hymns, a children’s book entitled Three Little Crows, a communion book and a Cumberland Presbyterian Handbook for 1901.
Materials not available in this collection include any correspondence or items related to the business or activities of Mary Brackenridge LaPrelle’s husband John LaPrelle, Jr. (1884-1931) nor are there any separate LaPrelle family genealogy materials.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
These papers were donated as two separate collections. The first donation was gifted to the Austin History Center by the estate of Robert B. LaPrelle, son of John LaPrelle, Jr. and Mary Eleanor Brackenridge LaPrelle, in 1955. This collection primarily contained the papers of Dr. Robert J. Brackenridge and his siblings. The second donation contained the papers of the LaPrelle and Talbot families as well as additional papers from Dr. Robert J. Brackenridge. This collection was gifted by May LaPrelle Price, daughter of John LaPrelle, Sr. and Rosa Talbot LaPrelle, and sister-in-law to Mary Eleanor Brackenridge LaPrelle. There are no restrictions listed on the material.
Brackenridge, LaPrelle and Talbot Family Papers (AR.D.009). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1955/049, DO/1965/035
Donation Dates: 1955, 1965
Final Processing and Finding Aid By: Keisha Brown and Johnny Rovell, April 2016.
Detailed Description of the Collection