Southern Methodist University

Letters to Sam Houston

A Guide


Creator: DeGolyer Library
Title: Letters to Sam Houston
Dates: 1855-1856
Abstract: This collection consists of 88 letters written to Sam Houston from October 1855 to March 1856 when he represented Texas in the U.S. Senate. These letters offer a glimpse at the myriad concerns facing Americans on the eve of the Civil War.
Accession No: A2014.0048c
Extent: 1 box (0.5 linear foot)
Language: Material is in English
Repository DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Samuel Houston (1793-1863) was born in Virginia and raised in Tennessee. After serving in the United States Army, he practiced law in Tennessee, was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and served as governor of Tennessee. Houston lived in the Cherokee nation for several years before he moved to Texas, where he became a leading figure in establishing Texas’ independence from Mexico. After Texas joined the United States, Houston represented Texas in the United States Senate from 1846-1859. He was elected governor of Texas in 1859, but was removed from office when he refused to sign a loyalty oath to the Confederate States of America. Throughout his career he supported peace with many Native American tribes.


Thomas H. Kreneck, "HOUSTON, SAMUEL," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed April 01, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection consists of 88 letters arranged in chronological order written to Sam Houston from October 1855 to March 1856, when he represented Texas in the U.S. Senate. Close friends, constituents, and fellow Americans wrote to him about personal and political matters. Notable correspondents include E.W. Cave in Nacogdoches, the editor of the Nacogdoches Chronicle; and Henderson Yoakum, the author of an early history of Texas. Five of the letters are from women, including the editor of the Mother's Journal, Mary Clarke.

Houston’s constituents beg favors, offer invitations to lecture, ask advice, request patents and government information, and inquire about his political ambitions in this collection of letters. These letters offer a glimpse at the myriad concerns facing Americans on the eve of the Civil War.

The condition of the letters is generally good, though all of the letters appear to have suffered some water damage at some point in the past. Some are mutilated. A few of the letters are very difficult to read because the ink has faded.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 1 series:
Series 1: Letters to Sam Houston, 1855-1856


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.
Houston, Sam, 1793-1863.
Yoakum, Henderson K., 1810-1856.
Cave, Eber Worthington, 1831-1904.
United States -– Politics and government -– 1815-1861.
Letters -- Texas -– 19th century.

Related Materials

Collection of Texas documents, A1980.0025c

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Letters to Sam Houston, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, John N. Rowe III, 2014.

Inventory written by

Russell L. Martin III, 2014.

Finding aid written and encoded by

Cynthia Franco, 2015.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Letters to Sam Houston, 1855-1856
1 box

This series is arranged chronologically.
Box Folder
1 1 October 29, 1855 - J.G.A. Hood, M.D. New Orleans. Affidavit of his medical examination of Col. Sufeldt.
2 November 20, 1855 - [signature removed], Philadelphia, Pa. Politics.
3 November 22, 1855 - G.W. Torrance. Victor, N.Y. Politics.
4 November 24, 1855 - W.B. Lewis.
5 November 27, 1855 - [E.S.?] Cleveland.
6 November 30, 1855 - Wilson J. Childs and Charles N. Childs. Philadelphia, Pa. Concerns credit and business references for G.H. Giddings of San Antonio, who gave Sam Houston as a reference.
7 December 1, 1855 – S.B. Allen, A.M. Alexander, and Wm. C. Young. Preston, Grayson Co., Tex. Protests recent arrest of one M.A. McBride by a U.S. marshal from Arkansas, who with accompanying posse, escorted him to Van Buren, Arkansas “on a charge of a violation of some law of the U. States.”
8 December 2, 1855 – E. Ewing. Houston [Tex.] Seeks Sam Houston’s assistance in the matter of “Awgustus” [slave? son?] whom she had placed at Georgetown College. He ran off and “is now at Mr. Middleton’s in Washington City.” “If I cannot succeed in getting him in the Navy or on some Merchant vessel that is going on a long voyage I do not know what I am to do with him.”
9 December 3, 1855 - F.D. Richards, Chester Factories, Mass. Writes to Sam Houston as a champion of Indian rights, seeking Sam Houston’s recommendations of the best books and documents that will give the “most correct exposition of their wrongs,” and finally asking for a copy of Sam Houston’s speech on the subject during the Senate debate on the Kansas bill.
10 December 4, 1855 - Edward Fontaine. Austin, Tex. Colorful and lengthy letter describing Texas politicians and requesting “a bag-full or so of documents.”
11 December 5, 1855 – Philip Wadsworth. Chicago.
12 December 5, 1855 – Charles Seefeld. New Orleans. Concerns his military pension.
13 December 6, 1855 – Huntington W. Freeman. Newark, N.J. Letter invites Sam Houston to give a speech at the request of the Literary Adelphi.
14 December 7, 1855 – William G. Leader. Philadelphia. Letter invites Sam Houston to give a speech at the request of the “Americans” of Philadelphia.
15 December 10, 1855 – Mrs. Ellen Coleman. Gonzales, Tex. Requests from the patent office any “fruits, grape vines, cereals & vegetables.”
16 December 12, 1855 – S.D. Adams. Bristollville, Trumbull Co., Conn. Seeks Sam Houston’s help in dealing with an indigent man who claims to have served with the U.S. Army in Mexico and Texas.
17 December 13, 1855 – J.G.A. Hood. New Orleans. Seeks Sam Houston’s help in the matter of a pension for C.A. Seefeld.
18 December 14, 1855 – Henry Dyer. Austin, Tex. Seeks Sam Houston’s help in the matter of the pension for Texas veteran John Hansford, a surgeon in the Texas army.
19 December 20, 1855 – Will Riersly [?]. Houston, Tex. Concerns financial matters.
20 December 21, 1855 – Charles H. Clarke. Huntsville, Tex. Clarke, a law student, asks for copies of Congressional proceedings and other government documents.
21 December 22, 1855 – J. B. Kaufman. Lancaster, Pa. Inquires if there is any truth to the rumors that the Adjutant General’s office in Austin has burned? Kaufman identifies himself as a relative of David S. Kaufman.
22 December 23, 1855 – Bob Taylor. Austin, Tex. Politics.
23 December 24, 1855 – J.N. Van Gorder. Roseville, Warren Co., Ill. Seeks information on natural, agricultural, and commercial resources of Texas as he thinks of possible emigration.
24 December 26, 1855 – J. Marshall. Mount Solon, Augusta Co., Va. Seeks Sam Houston’s assistance for the writer’s Mossy Creek Academy.
25 December 26, 1855 – J.K Tyson, Wm. G. Lender, Geo. F. Keyser. Philadelphia, Pa. Letter invites Sam Houston to give a lecture on the “American movement.”
26 December 28, 1855 – A. Hilton [?] San Augustine, Tex. Request for plant specimens from the patent office.
27 December 28, 1855 – Wm. Shoemaker.
28 December 29, 1855 – A.J. [illegible] Huntsville, Tex. Political news.
29 December 29, 1855 – B.M. McFarlane. Oak Hall Farms, Weakley Co., Tenn. Politics, especially Sam Houston’s future.
30 January 6, 1856 - John Sayles. Austin, Tex. Politics.
31 January 7, 1856 - W.P. Bradburn
32 January 7, 1856 - M.H. Kirby. Columbus, Ohio. Requests information on possible plans to construct a railroad from some point on the Red River to the Pacific; recommends his son, currently employed on the Ohio & Mississippi RR, as an engineer; as a native of Halifax Co., Virginia, would be interested in relocating to Texas himself, as he now lives in “too high a latitude.”
33 January 9, 1856 - Ezra W. Conklin, C.F. Bennett, W.H. Doane. Jamaica, Queens Co., N.Y. Letter invites Sam Houston to attend seventh anniversary meeting of Woodhull Chapter No. 24, “G.U.A.” on January 24.
34 January 12, 1856 - Robert A. Tovey. New York, N.Y. A true salesman, the writer sends Sam Houston a box of his “Cough Candy,” capable of curing all the troubles that flesh is heir to “especially around the neck and throat (excepting choking a la rope)”
35 January 13, 1856 - J.O. Shelby. Livingston [Tex.?] Requests a favor from Sam Houston.
36 January 14, 1856 - James Davy [?] Evergreen Hill. Family news, and requests for seeds from the Patent Office, books and documents.
37 January 15, 1856 - R.H. Morrison
38 January 15, 1856 - Dudley Randall. Huntsville, Tex. Sam Houston had evidently visited Randall’s house last fall and mentioned he would be happy to procure garden seed for him; Randall now taking him up on the offer; also any books or other government publications on agriculture
39 January 17, 1856 - B.T.C. Morgan. Pittsburgh, Pa. Politics. The writer believes Sam Houston would carry the “Keystone State.”
40 January 18, 1856 - A.E. Westall. Gulf Prairie, Brazoria Co., Tex. Seeks patent office report for 1854-55 and various seeds, including Wyandot Corn and Chinese Sugar Cane, Tamarind, and Cork Seed, and “any others.”
41 January 18, 1856 - James Mitchell. Plantersville, Grimes Co., Tex. Enclosed is a petition for the U.S. Postmaster to establish a post office in Plantersville.
42 January 19, 1856 - E. Nelms. Edgewood, near Anderson, Grimes Co., Tex. Requests copy of last annual message of the President, so that he can understand the difficulties between the U.S. and Great Britain concerning Central America as well as a copy of the Patent Office report.
43 January 19, 1856 - Samuel C. Taylor. Austin, Tex. Important letter discussing the prospects of the American Party in Texas and the writer’s hopes that Sam Houston will be the next President of the United States.
44 January 19, 1856 - David Williams. Harrisburg, Pa. Williams is the pastor of a small Baptist Church in the middle of a building campaign; invites Sam Houston to come to lecture on “Texas,” a ticketed event, proceeds from which to benefit the fund-raising efforts of the church. Williams writes that Dr. Dowling gave a similar lecture last winter on “The Providence of God in the Life of Washington,” by which he cleared $67 for the church.
45 January 20, 1856 - John C. Black, M.D.
46 January 20, 1856 - William Halsey [?] Rutersville, Tex. President of Rutersville College seeks donation of books and government documents for the college, cites former gifts from Senator Rusk, Congressman Howard, and others.
47 January 21, 1856 - Wm. A. Shaw. Washington, Hempstead Co., Ark. Letter details local conditions, prospects, as well as ruminations on the American political landscape.
48 January 21, 1856 - P.W. Kittrell. Austin, Tex. Describes the current political situation in Texas, especially news and gossip concerning Sam Houston’s friends and enemies.
49 January 21, 1856 - J.H. Fitzhugh
50 January 23, 1856 - Geo. C. Thomas. Philadelphia, Pa. Letter informs Sam Houston he had been unanimously elected an honorary member of the Ciceronian Debating Society of Philadelphia at their meeting October 23, 1855.
51 January 25, 1856 - H. Yoakum. Huntsville, Tex. News from friends, strong expressions of Union sentiments: “The Speaker cannot ruin us, but a dissolution of the Union would.” Reports that he had fulfilled his promise to Mrs. H. by sending her a “neat” copy of his History of Texas, “Sorry it was a poor present.” [Sheet with early Huntsville postal cancel]
52 January 25, 1856 - H.H. Herr. Harper’s Ferry, Va. Expresses his admiration for Sam Houston’s principles and policies and asks for a copy of Gilly’s Expedition to Chile [United States Naval Astronomical Expedition].
53 January 25, 1856 - Geo. Frederick Dean. New York, N.Y. Informs Sam Houston of the death of the writer’s father, Nicholas Dean, on Dec. 20, 1855. Mentions a knife, made from a file, which Sam Houston had given his father, also the impressions Sam Houston made upon him as a boy, when he visited their home on East Broadway: “I listened breathlessly to your conversation, at my father’s house, concerning the Indians, from among whom you had lately returned.”
54 January 26, 1856 - Elihu Geer. Hartford, Conn. Expresses his belief in the importance of a well-regulated and trained militia and hoping Sam Houston will act, as chairman of the Senate committee on the militia, to improve its condition in all states; sends copy of a law recently passed in Connecticut.
55 January 26, 1856 - C.C. Battle. Brownsville, Tenn. Seeks Sam Houston’s help for Nancy Haggard, the widow of James Haggard, who was a captain in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.
56 January 27, 1856 - Procter P. Porter. Huntsville, Tex. Political and personal news from Texas, where “Houston stock is still at a premium.”
57 January 27, 1856 - E.W. Cave. Nacogdoches, Tex. Lengthy and detailed report of Texas politics, from the editor and publisher of the Nacogdoches Chronicle.
58 January 28, 1856 - Augustine Duganne. Albany, N.Y. The author writes to gauge Sam Houston’s willingness to be considered as a Vice Presidential candidate under Millard Fillmore.
59 January 28, 1856 - C.B. Sanders.
60 January 29, 1856 - A.H. Hise. Louisville, Ky. Thanks Sam Houston for his letter of December 23; expresses hope that the Texas legislature will remunerate his father for services rendered by encouraging immigration; reports on the doings of the American convention in Frankfort.
61 January 30, 1856 - Mary G. Clarke. Philadelphia. Concerns Mrs. Houston’s subscription to the Mother’s Journal. Witty remark on the nature of good husbands and good wives.
62 January 30, 1856 - Stanley Smith. Auburn, N.Y. Smith was the publisher of the Auburn American, a copy of which he encloses, with a series of articles extolling virtues of Sam Houston as a potential presidential candidate.
62 January 30, 1856 - Rowland D. Buford. Liberty, Va. Requests a copy of the United States Naval Astronomical Expedition.
64 January 30, 1856 - Henry F. Thomas. American Eagle Office, York, Pa. Informs Sam Houston that the American Executive Committee has invited him to give a public lecture in York, Pa., in February, 1856.
65 January 31, 1856 - Wm. Y. Leader. Philadelphia, Pa. Repeats his earlier requests, on behalf of the American Association, that Sam Houston deliver a lecture in Philadelphia. [See letter of December 8, 1855]
66 February 1, 1856 - Frank W. Wiswell. Meriden, N.H. Requests copy of “Remarks on the Memorial of the New England Clergyman,” Sam Houston’s speech on the Nebraska and Kansas Bill, and other speeches.
66 February 2, 1856 - Sam H.
67 February 2, 1856 - Chas. F. Porter. New York. The author writes to gauge Sam Houston’s interest in running as VP on the ticket with [?].
68 February 3, 1856 - Henrietta B. Creecy.
69 February 3, 1856 - W.B. Thrall. Columbus, Ohio. Writes on behalf of the widow of Maj. Winslow F. Sanders, who died in Galveston in 1853 of yellow fever.
70 February 3, 1856 - George H. McKinney. Frankfort, Ky. Family news from this distant “kinsman.”
71 February 4, 1856 - Wm. M.
72 February 5, 1856 - Mrs. De Jamin [?] West Point, N.Y. Seeks Sam Houston’s assistance in supporting a larger appropriation for West Point particularly for the sake of her husband’s salary.
73 February 6, 1856 - A.H. Phillips. Victoria, Tex. Requests copy of the Patent Office report for 1854; declaring his political views.
74 February 7, 1856 – David Ahl. Newville, Cumberland Co., Pa. Letter invites Sam Houston to lecture before the “Big Spring Literary Institution” for the benefit of a library.
75 February 9, 1856 - Jonathan S. York, Pa. [?] Requests Sam Houston to lecture before the YMCA.
76 February 11, 1856 – Isaac Thayer. Philadelphia. Seeks Sam Houston’s letters of recommendation as he attempts to establish himself in business. “I made no money in Texas after left Houston. I went with the Show at the Tremont in Galveston but owing to yellow fever left for the north.”
77 February 11, 1856 - R.B. Hall. National Hotel [Washington] Forwards address of Mrs. T. P. Smith, Mystic Hall, Medford, Mass. [She was the principal of Mystic Hall Seminary, a school for women]
78 February 13, 1856 - M.D. Phillips.
79 February 14, 1856 – Malcolm Moody. Springfield, Mass. Requests copies of reports of William Lewis Herndon and Lander Gibbon on the Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon.
80 February 14, 1856 - Thomas [Delancy?] Sargent. Williams Hotel [?] Washington [?] Concerns Sam Houston’s salt property at Cedar Point, Texas.
81 February 14, 1856 - Hamilton Fish. Engraved invitation for dinner on February 14 at 6 pm.
82 February 15, 1856 - M.P. McEwen. Philadelphia. Concerns poor health of Mrs. Mitchell who has “given up her school.”
83 February 15, 1856 - Andrew McLaughlin. Baltimore. Seeks Sam Houston’s aid on behalf of his son, who was evidently reduced in rank by the Navy Board, appealing to promises made by Andrew Jackson in 1837.
84 February 15, 1856 - [Eldredge?].
85 February 17, 1856 - Benjamin F. Holler.
86 February 17, 1856 - Isaiah Graham. Philadelphia. Seeks an appointment as a captain’s clerk on board a man of war. “I have always had a liking for a sea faring life …”
87 March 12, 1856 - [Unknown]. Boston, Mass. The author does not sign his name but identifies himself as the author of Man and His Dwelling Place, a defense of slavery published in Boston by Crocker & Brewster in 1855. Suggests that his publisher would be willing to print a new edition and asks if Sam Houston might send them $150.
88 March 19, 1856 - [Unknown]. Hillsboro [N.C.?] Possibly concerns an orphan child who may be a distant relative of William Houston of Tennessee.