A Guide to the Pevoto Family Artifact Collection, c. 1870, 1900, 1941
Michele Pevoto (alternately spelled Pivoto, Pivetot, Pivateau, Pivatau, Pevautau, or Peveto) was born in 1799 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where his grandfathered had settled after coming from France as a soldier before 1763. Michele fought in the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans as a 15-year-old, and he immigrated to Texas in 1824, settling on the Sabine River. He is thought to have built one of the first permanent houses where Orange, Texas is now located, as the town was established in the 1820s. In 1835 he received a Spanish land grant in Zavala’s Colony, across the Neches in Jefferson County on a bluff later called Peveto Point. He and his family were involved in the “Runaway Scrape” of 1836 that saw many settlers in Texas fleeing their homes in fear of Santa Anna and the Mexican army. Michele spent the majority of his later years in Johnson’s Bayou, Louisiana, a settlement on the Gulf of Mexico due south of Orange. He died and was buried in Johnson’s Bayou in 1881 at age 82.
Joseph Belone Pevoto was born on January 18, 1827, the son of Michele Pevoto. The family continued to own property on both sides of the Sabine River and moved back and forth between Orange and Johnson’s Bayou. Joseph was baptized in Opelousas, Louisiana. He was married and widowed twice before he was 46 years old, and had 5 children, all by his first wife.
Sometime before 1870 Joseph handcrafted a four-drawer chest of drawers from red gum wood that he milled himself. At the time he lived in either Beaumont, Texas or Johnson’s Bayou. In Orange, Texas he traded the chest of drawers to Anna Margaret McKinzey Conrad Smith, a Scottish emigrant and widow who ran a boarding house there, in exchange for one of her milk cows. On November 25, 1873, Joseph and Anna were married, making her his third wife. Their new household included one of his daughters by his first wife, Anna’s two daughters by her first husband, as well as the chest of drawers and the cow. The couple opened and ran a beachfront hotel in Johnson’s Bayou. They would have three daughters together, the first of whom they named Margaret Bertha Pevoto, nicknamed Maggie B.
Four generations of the Pevoto family are laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery in Orange, Texas, including: Joseph, who died at age 62 on October 10, 1889 in Orange. He left his considerable estates to his wife, now called Anna McKinzey Pevoto. She died on December 21, 1909, at age 72. Margaret “Maggie B.” Bertha and her husband, George W. Bland. Their daughter Winnie Abigail Bland Toal (1895-1985) and her husband Thomas Henry Toal (1885-1940). Winnie and Thomas’ daughter Margaret “Peggy” Toal, who died in 2002 at age 80, and her husband, Julian W. Garrett, who died at age 94 on January 7, 2012.
In his youth Julian Garrett played tackle for the UT football team under coach Dana X. Bible. In 1941, Garrett appeared on the cover of Life magazine along with 13 of his teammates for a story on UT football. He was the last of those featured on the cover to pass away. An original copy of this issue is included in the collection. After college, Garrett served in the military and worked in the petrochemical industry. A UT endowment was named in his honor.
Maggie B. would go on to tell the stories of her parents and grandparents to her descendants, including her great-granddaughter, Judith Garrett Segura, the daughter of Peggy Toal and Julian Garrett. Judith recorded some of her great-grandmother’s stories, including the tale of the chest of drawers, and ultimately donated it along with other historical artifacts of her family to the Briscoe Center in 2010.
Joseph Pevoto’s chest of drawers was described by appraiser Donald King Cowan as a “better quality handmade early Texas transitional Country Sheraton/Empire chest of drawers.” More information on the Pevoto family and the life of the artifact can be found in Judith Garrett Segura’s narrative history of the chest, a copy of which is included in the collection. In the holding record for the collection there is a complete copy of Cowan’s professional appraisal of the chest, including color photographs.
Three other items are included in the collection. One crocheted bedspread, made of cotton and measuring 75 by 100 inches, handcrafted by Margaret “Maggie B.” Pevoto Bland in Orange, Texas, sometime before 1900. One silver mustache cup and saucer set, which was given to Joseph Bland on his 70th birthday in 1902, most likely by his wife, Mildred M., while they lived in Orange, Texas. And one copy of Life magazine dated November 17, 1941, featuring Julian W. Garrett and his teammates on the cover as part of a story on UT football.
This collection is open for research use.
A portion of this collection is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Pevoto Family Artifact Collection, c. 1870, 1900, 1941, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Keelee James, 2015.
Detailed Description of the Papers