Texas (Republic). Department of State:
An Inventory of Department of State Post Office Records at the Texas State Archives, 1836-1847, undated
The postal system of the Republic of Texas was established to facilitate mail transportation within and outside the republic and began in October 1835, when a special committee of the Permanent Council was appointed to establish mail routes and John Rice Jones was named postmaster general. The provisional government of Texas established a provisional post office department by an ordinance and decree on December 12, 1835. The 1st Congress of the Republic of Texas created the Post Office Department by an act approved December 20, 1836. Sam Houston, first president of the republic, appointed Robert Barr as postmaster general. When Barr died in October 1839, John Rice Jones was again named postmaster general. Legislation over the next few years frequently dealt with the republic's postal service. On February 6, 1840, the 4th Congress of the republic consolidated much of this legislation and established the General Post Office.
On January 18, 1841, the 6th Congress of the republic approved an act abolishing the office of postmaster general and its department and requiring the secretary of state to establish a bureau to be called the General Post Office; the secretary of state appointed and supervised the chief clerk. This same act required the postmaster general to deliver to the secretary of state all books, documents, and papers of the Post Office Department and General Post Office.
The secretary of state is a constitutional officer of the executive branch of state government, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate for a term concurrent with the governor's (a two-year term at first, a four-year term since 1975). The office was first created by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836 (Article VI, Section 10), and has been continued by each succeeding constitution.
On May 9, 1846, the 1st Texas Legislature approved an act "to define the duties of secretary of state," which among other things required the secretary of state to "arrange and preserve all books, maps, parchments, records, documents, deeds, conveyances, and other papers belonging to the State, that have been or may be properly deposited there."
An act of February 11, 1854, created a Board of Commissioners composed of the Secretary of State, the Comptroller, and the Attorney General, "to superintend the arranging and filing of the archives of the late Republic of Texas and of the State Legislature, and also the recording of the Journals of the said Congress and State Legislature ... to be deposited in the General Land-office of the State." An act of December 14, 1863 made the secretary of state "the custodian of the records of the Senate and House of Representatives." And an act of March 25, 1887, provided that "the entire archives of the late Republic of Texas, ... together with the records, books, and journals of said Congress" would be "deposited in the Office of the Secretary of State," and "declared to be Archives of said office."
(Sources include: Secretary of State Republic of Texas records appraisal report, December 1998, available in the search room of the Texas State Archives; Newsom, W.L. "The Postal System of the Republic of Texas" in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 20, no. 2 (1916): 106-107, accessed through JSTOR; Konwiser, Harry M., "Postal System of the Republic of Texas" and Cutrer, Thomas W. "Barr, Robert" in the Handbook of Texas Online; all accessed July 25, 2018; and the enabling legislation (1836-1887).)
Records of the post office were created as a result of the establishment and daily management of the postal service of the Republic of Texas and document the legal, financial, and administrative activities of the office. These records consist of correspondence; vouchers, receipts, and other accounting records; lists and logs of post offices, postmasters, and mail routes; and related documents of the Republic of Texas Post Office Department and General Post Office, dating 1836-1847, undated. The correspondence includes letters from the postmaster general or chief clerk to Congress, the Executive department, the secretary of state, and the auditor, among others, 1836-1846, plus two letter books, one containing copies of outgoing letters of the postmaster general, dating 1840-1842, and the other of chief clerks, dating 1842-1846. Accounting records include payments for mail transportation, expenditures, appropriations, general receipts, ledgers, and annual and quarterly "State of the Department" reports to the President, 1836-1847; and three volumes containing an account of contractors and post offices, a journal account of expenditures, and a daybook of daily accounts and summaries of accounts due, 1840-1842. Also included is an undated volume containing a list of post offices and post masters. Other lists of post offices, postmasters, and mail routes date 1836-1842 and 1844. Other documents (mostly legal) include mail contracts, route schedules, appointments and applications, oaths, affidavits, and powers of attorney, dating 1836-1846.
A published calendar of a portion of these papers is titled: Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1840, 2 volumes, compiled by James M. Day and published by the Texas State Library in 1966-1967. Copies are available in the library's holdings and in academic libraries throughout the state.
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Some materials are too large or too fragile to photocopy. Please see Archives staff for assistance.
(Identify the item and the folder), Texas (Republic) Department of State Post Office records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1905/007, 1932/002
These records were transferred to the Texas Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History (a predecessor of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) by the Texas Secretary of State on November 10, 1905; and to the Texas State Library and Historical Commission by the Texas Secretary of State on September 28, 1932.
Processed by State Archives staff, dates unknown
Finding aid encoded by Tony Black in EAD Version 2002 as part of the TARO project, June 2010
Authority name, DACS compliance, and other changes by Tony Black, February 2011
Additional changes and addition of Texas Digital Archive links by Angela Swift, August 2018
Texas State Archives staff completed an appraisal of the Texas Secretary of State holdings already in the custody of the Texas State Archives in December 1998. Fifty-seven series of these holdings were determined to be archival, including Post Office records. The complete appraisal report (in two parts: Republic of Texas records and non-Republic records) is available for consultation in the search room of the Texas State Archives.
The documents in this finding aid have been digitized, and are part of the Texas Digital Archive, available online at https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/texas-state-agencies-homepage/sos/#postOffice
Most of the original documents were copied onto 16mm microfilm (Microfilm reel 3090) by the Records Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in 1976 (paid for by the researcher requesting the microfilming). The images from the microfilm are used in the Texas Digital Archive. Documents not included in the microfilm have been digitized. A few of the original documents on the microfilm are missing from the collection. Some items on the microfilm were not part of the Post Office papers and have not been included in this finding aid or the Texas Digital Archive.
Each folder of digital images of these documents in the TDA have been combined into one PDF file for ease of use. Due to the nature of the microfilm, documents may not be in chronological or intellectual order within each PDF.
A published two-volume calendar covers a portion of the Post Office papers. Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1839 and Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas, 1839-1840 have been digitized and included for convenience with the Post Office papers in the Texas Digital Archive.
Detailed Description of the Records