Southern Methodist University

James T. DeShields papers and collection of Texana

A Guide to the Collection


Creator: DeShields, James T., 1861-1948.
Title: James T. DeShields papers and collection of Texana
Dates: 1851-1950
Abstract: James Thomas DeShields (1861-1948) was a Texas historian and collector. He collected manuscripts, books, and pictures relating to Texas history. His interests led him to write articles on such subjects as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, John Coffee (Jack) Hays, the battle of the Alamo, the story of the Texas Revolution, Texas border tales, the Texas Rangers, and the lure of the frontier. The James T. DeShields papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, artwork, handwritten and typed manuscripts, publicity and advertising material, magazines and journals, and legal documents.
Accession No: MSS 79
Extent: 6 boxes (5 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

James Thomas DeShields (1861-1948), Texas historian, son of James Calvin and Drucilla (Chandler) DeShields, was born in Louisiana on May 3, 1861. About the end of the Civil War, his parents moved to Texas and settled on a farm in Bell County. Between crops, young DeShields attended public schools, read avidly, and absorbed tales of frontier adventure. He attended Salado College and Baylor University. While working as a house-to-house book agent, he began, as a hobby, to collect manuscripts, books, and pictures relating to Texas history. This interest led him to write articles on frontier history, which he contributed to the Fort Worth Gazette and other newspapers and magazines. A collection, Frontier Sketches, appeared in 1883, and Cynthia Ann Parker was published in 1886. In 1886 DeShields married Ennola Lee Huddleston in Bell County. They had three daughters.

Over a long period, DeShields set down the stories of frontiersmen he knew and dug historical material from newspaper files and other sources. His Border Wars of Texas (1912) recounted many Indian engagements. In 1914 he moved to Dallas, set up a dry-goods business, and continued to write in his spare time. He wrote many articles on such subjects as Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, John Coffee (Jack) Hays, the battle of the Alamo, the story of the Texas Revolution, Texas border tales, riding and fighting with the Texas Rangers, and the lure of the frontier. His longer works were The Fergusons: "Jim and Ma" (1932), Tall Men with Long Rifles (1935), and They Sat in High Places (1940). He retired from business in 1935, but continued to write. He died in Dallas on February 8, 1948.

Taken from The Handbook of Texas Online, Wayne Gard


Dallas Morning News, February 9, 1948.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of James T. DeShields consist of documents illustrating the life of a prominent writer and collector. They include manuscripts, drafts of articles, research materials on various topics related to Texas history and folklore, and other writings. The collection also includes publicity and advertisement materials related to his writings. There are also photographs, clippings, a scrapbook, a journal and several books on Texas history. Topics covered include Presidents and Governors of Texas, North Texas history, Davy Crockett, The Alamo, and Sam Houston. Of particular note are several versions of the manuscript for an unpublished book on Davy Crockett along with photographic material, maps, correspondence, articles, and illustrations for the book. While the majority of the collection covers DeShields’ writing and history career, there is also some personal correspondence.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into one series.


Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
DeShields, James T., 1861-1948.
Authors, American --Texas --20th century.
American literature --Texas.
Texas --History.

Related Materials

Letters and clipping, 1900-1907. (A1980.0095c)

The Presidents and Governors of Texas, n.d. (A1992.1788c)

Heroes of Texas : Dr. Branch T. Archer, circa 1900. (A2001.2347c)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

James T. DeShields papers and collection of Texana, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, Venora DeShields Arthur, 1991; A1991.1750.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by Maru Cueto, 1991.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2007.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1:

Box Folder
1 1 Presidents and Governors of Texas.
2 Handwritten manuscript "El de la Cruz Prieta."
3 Miscellaneous.
4 Publicity, Advertisement material.
5 The complete "Memoirs" of Capt. Menchacha.
6 Typed manuscript "North Texas, 100 Tears Ago" by Dr. Pat B. Clark (copied from slaten).
7 Typed manuscript "Three-Legged Willie" by Alfred W. Arrington.
8 Typed letters.
9 Painting Box 1.
10 Manuscripts.
11 Addresses.
12 Photographs and Negative.
13 Footprints of the Huddleston Family.
14 Correspondence with Ziegler’s Book Shelf.
15 Kiltrell Letter, 1913.
16 Correspondence with Naylor Company.
17 Personal Letters.
18 Pictures of James T. DeShields.
Box Folder
2 1 Typed material - Typed book list:
"Refugio County Centennial Celebration" (Souvenir Program)
"The Life of John Wesley Hardin" (from original manuscript, 2 copies)
"Twice-Fold Tales of Texas" (published by Humble Oil and Refining Co.)
Bailey, Olga. "Mollie Bailey"
Baldwin, James. "In the Days of My Youth"
Chabot, Frederick C. "San Fernando, the Villa Capital"
Connelley, William Elsay. "Kansas Territorial Governors"
Corner, William. "San Antonio de Béxar"
Davis, M.E.M. "The Story of Texas Under Six Flags"
Dobie, J. Frank. "A Vaquero of the Brush Country"
Dobie, J. Frank. "Coronado’s Children"
Fagan, W.L. (ed.) "Southern War Songs"
Fuller, Henry C. "Adventures of Bill Longley"
Grant, Blanche C. "Kit Carson’s Own Story of His Life"
Havergal, Frances Ridley. "Bells Across the Snow"
Howe, Barber. "Texas History"
Hunter, John Warren. "Heel-Fly Time in Texas"
Lafton, Susie Rachel. "The Rachel Plummer Narrative"
Lord, John. "Beacon Lights of History"
Reagan, John. "Memoires"
Rogers, John William and J. Frank Dobie. "Finding Literature on the Texas Plains"
Simmons, Frank E. "History of Coryell County"
de Zavala, Adina. "History and Legends of the Alamo and Other Missions"
(also 26 reprints, 5 of them in envelopes)
Box Folder
3 1 Material on Cynthia Ann Parker.
2 Clippings.
3 Material on Governor James S. Hogg (folder 1 of 2).
4 Material on Governor James S. Hogg (2 Photos) (folder 2 of 2).
5 Gift of Stephen F Austin (Scrapbook).
6 Writings.
7 Journal.
8 Hand written and typed articles and notes on several topics (folder 1 of 2).
9 Hand written and typed articles on several topics (folder 2 of 2).
10 Footprints of the Huddleston Family.
11 Great Historic Tragedies in and around San Antonio (Scrapbook).
12 Unnamed manuscript.
13 Scrapbook.
2 & 4 Several books on Texas history.
Box Folder
4 1 Davy Crockett.
2 Davy Crockett - duplicate pages, evidently revised and re-typed (folder 1 of 2).
3 Davy Crockett (folder 2 of 2).
4 Davy Crockett (folder 1 of 3).
5 Davy Crockett (handwritten) (folder 2 of 3).
6 Davy Crockett hand written version, not typed (folder 3 of 3).
7 Seemingly the final version of Davy Crockett.
8 Photographic material on Davy Crockett, map, correspondence, articles.
9 Material on The Alamo.
10 Photos, cards, negatives, illustrations, etc.
Box Folder
5 1 Paper clippings.
2 Newspaper clippings.
3 Naylor’s Epic Century Magazine.
4 Paper clippings.
5 Legal or official documents.
Box Folder
6 1 Material on Sam Houston.
2 "Journal of the West" SPR 2001 Article by James Crisp on DeShields.