Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo

A Guide to the Palfrey Family Papers, 1881-1974

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Palfrey Family
Title: Palfrey Family Papers
Dates: 1881-1974
Creator Abstract: Thomas Bisland Palfrey (1863-1914) came to San Antonio in 1891 as an employee of the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway Co. He was later involved in a number of business ventures, including banks, the San Antonio Sewer Pipe and Manufacturing Co., and the Medina Valley Irrigation Co.
Content Abstract: Correspondence, legal documents, financial documents, printed material and photographs document the business and personal activities of the Palfrey family.
Identification: Col 6814
Extent: 4.38 linear feet (5 document boxes, 1 records carton, 1 oversize box, 1 artifacts box)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas

Biographical Note

Born into a prominent Franklin, Louisiana, family on 1863 July 17, Thomas Bisland Palfrey came to San Antonio in 1891 as an employee of the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway Co. He later moved to the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad, where he served as chief clerk until 1907. Palfrey was involved in a number of business ventures, including several banks in south-central Texas and the San Antonio Sewer Pipe and Manufacturing Co.

He was also one of the organizers of a concern which resulted in the construction of Medina Dam in 1912. He was serving as business manager of the Medina Valley Irrigation Company at the time of his death on 1914 August 20.

Thomas B. Palfrey married Lee Upson (1872-1941), the daughter of San Antonio attorney Christopher Columbus Upson, on 1894 April 3. Mrs. Palfrey was active in the management of family property after her husband's death and was a prominent member of the San Antonio Conservation Society. The couple had one son, Frank Upson Palfrey (1895-1975).


Kuehne, Cyril Matthew. Ripples from Medina Lake. San Antonio: The Naylor Company, 1966.

Palfrey Family Papers, 1881-1974, Col 6814, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, legal documents, financial documents, printed material, and photographs form the Palfrey Family Papers, documenting several members of the San Antonio family.

Correspondence is primarily personal in nature, and the letters received are concentrated around special events. Arranged chronologically, these include letters from Thomas B. Palfrey to his fiancée, Lee Upson, shortly before their marriage; from Frank U. Palfrey to his mother during his military service in World War I; letters from Lee Upson Palfrey to Frank U. Palfrey during trips to Europe, New York, and Mineral Wells, Texas; letters of sympathy received on the deaths of Mrs. Palfrey's mother, Thomas B. Palfrey, and Lee U. Palfrey. Outgoing letters are represented by four letterpress books of Thomas B. Palfrey, which include a mixture of personal and business-related letters. One of these volumes is primarily associated with Palfrey's work for the San Antonio Sewer Pipe and Manufacturing Co.

Financial documents include two ledgers, one containing account records and other information by Thomas B. Palfrey, the second containing a small number of miscellaneous entries by Mrs. Palfrey. Other financial documents are miscellaneous in nature and made up of receipts and tax records.

Legal documents are few in number and include a few records of a lawsuit over payment to a real estate broker.

The remaining documents are generally personal and include a daily journal of Christopher Columbus Upson; an autograph book of Lee Upson; material from the funeral of Lee U. Palfrey; some genealogical material on the Palfreys and Upsons; a scrapbook containing a small amount on Christopher Columbus Upson; printed material; maps of family property; and artifacts.

Photographs are generally informal snapshots, with some formal portraits of family members. Subjects include the Palfrey's San Antonio residence, various sites in San Antonio, Medina Dam, and snapshots of sights around the country, particularly photographs taken in Colorado. A number of the photo prints and negatives are not identified.


Access Restrictions

No restrictions. The collection is open for research.

Usage Restrictions

Please be advised that the library does not hold the copyright to most of the material in its archival collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure those rights when needed. Permission to reproduce does not constitute permission to publish. The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming to the laws of copyright, literary property rights, and libel.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Palfrey Family.
Palfrey, Thomas B. (Thomas Bisland), 1863-1914.
Palfrey, Lee Upson, 1872-1941.
Palfrey, Frank Upson, 1895-1975.
Upson, Christopher Columbus, 1829-1902.
San Antonio Sewer Pipe and Manufacturing Co. (San Antonio, Tex.)
San Antonio (Tex.)
Family papers.
Financial records.
Legal documents.
Printed ephemera.

Related Material

Cassiano-Pérez Family Papers, 1741-1976, Col 880, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Palfrey Family Papers, Mss. 333, 334, 1409, 1442, 1632, 2076, 2580, 2773, 2857, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, Louisiana State University Libraries.

Palfrey Family Papers (MS Am 1704-1704.21). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Palfrey Family Papers, 1881-1974, Col 6814, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Patricia H. Bush, 1993 June and 1996 October.

Processing Information

Processed by Warren Stricker, 1994 November.

Finding aid edited and encoded by Caitlin Donnelly, 2010 September.

Detailed Description of the Collection


Palfrey Family Papers, 1881-1974

Correspondence, 1881-1974
Box Folder
1 1 Lee Upson to Emma Bell, 1881, 1886, and undated
2-4 Thomas B. Palfrey to Lee Upson, 1892
5-8 Thomas B. Palfrey to Lee Upson, 1893
9 Thomas B. Palfrey to Lee Upson Palfrey, 1894
10 1895
11 1896
12 Lucy Upson to Lee Upson Palfrey, 1909
13 1911
14 Sympathy, on death of Martha Upson, 1911
15 1913
16 1914
17-19 Sympathy, on death of Thomas B. Palfrey, 1914
20 1915
21 1916
22 1917
23 1918
Box Folder
2 24 Frank U. Palfrey to Lee U. Palfrey [photocopies], 1918-1919
25 1919
26 1920
27-29 Lee Upson Palfrey to Frank U. Palfrey, 1920
30 1922
31 1923
32-33 Lee Upson Palfrey to Frank U. Palfrey, 1927
34 Lee Upson Palfrey to Frank U. Palfrey, 1929
35 Lee Upson Palfrey to Frank U. Palfrey, 1934
36 1936
37 1941
38 Sympathy, on death of Lee Upson Palfrey, 1941-1942
39 1942 and 1944
40 1960-1968
41 1971-1974
42 Undated
Box Folder
7 Thomas B. Palfrey letterpress books, 1895-1908
1895 September 26-1897 September 9
San Antonio Sewer Pipe and Manufacturing Co., 1897 May 24-1901 August 8
1897 September 10-1901 March 20
1901 April 9-1908 April 12
Financial documents, 1893-1943
Box Folder
2 43 Tax receipts, 1893-1912
44 Auto license receipts, 1920-1923
45 General receipts, 1914-1920
46 Income tax returns, 1914-1924
47 Inventory: Lee U. Palfrey estate, 1943
Box Folder
7 Ledger, 1900-1912
Ledger, circa 1916
Box Folder
2 48 Miscellaneous financial material
Box Folder
3 Legal documents, 1895-1941
49 T. W. Campbell vs. Lee U. Palfrey, 1915-1919
50 Deeds, 1895 and 1941
51 Contract, 1906
Box Folder
Oversize 6 Journal: Columbus Upson, 1899
Box Folder
3 52 Autograph book: Lee Upson, 1884-1888
53 Address book: Lee U. Palfrey
Order of the Alamo material
Box Folder
3 54 Certificate, 1922
Box Folder
8 Ribbons
Box Folder
3 Lee Upson Palfrey funeral
55 Sympathy cards
56 Memorial contributions
57 Floral tributes
58 Miscellaneous material
59 Church material
60 Genealogical material
Box Folder
Oversize 6 Scrapbook
Printed material
Box Folder
3 61 Certificate: University of the South to Thomas B. Palfrey, 1881
62 Yearbooks: San Antonio German Club, 1967-1968 and 1972-1973
63 Postcards
64 Greeting cards
65 Ephemera
Books and pamphlets
Box Folder
7 The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate. New York: D. & J. Sadler, possibly 1847.
The Holy Bible. New York: American Bible Society, 1898. Contains Palfrey family records.
Box Folder
3 66 Victor Deschamps. Comment Détruire Les Ennemis des Plantes. Paris: Bibliotèque Moderne du Village, undated.
67 Upson and Palfrey families
68 Palfrey ranch development
69 General
70 Miscellaneous papers
Box Folder
8 Artifacts
Box Folder
4 71 Christopher Columbus Upson [3 prints]
72 Thomas B. Palfrey [13 prints, 3 negatives]
73 Palfrey family [4 prints, 1 negative]
74 Palfrey residence [1 print, 5 negatives]
75 San Antonio missions [1 print, 7 negatives]
76 Medina Dam [6 prints, 4 negatives]
77 Colorado, identified [36 prints]
78 Colorado, identified negatives [28 negatives]
79 Possibly Colorado [16 prints]
80 Possibly Colorado, negatives [32 negatives]
81 Miscellaneous, identified
San Fernando Cathedral, San Antonio [1 negative]
U.S. Capitol [1 print, 1 negative]
Honeywell Gardens, Massachusetts [2 prints]
John Martin farm, Bloomington, state unknown [1 print]
Alida Prescott [1 print]
82 Photo album
83 Photo album negatives [47 negatives]
84 Unidentified [6 prints]
85 Unidentified [12 prints, 10 negatives]
86 Unidentified [31 prints]
Box Folder
5 87 Unidentified [27 prints]
88 Unidentified (75 negatives)
89 Unidentified [60 negatives]
90 Unidentified [65 negatives]
91 Unidentified [18 negatives]
Box Folder
Separated material
See the DRT Library's online catalog for the location of these items.
San Antonio River Survey, 1913. Shows Upson residence, 403 St. Mary's Strret, San Antonio, Texas. Also shows Laux Mill.
Map Showing Development by E. J. Burke and Sons, San Antonio, Texas. Also shows former Palfrey ranch property on Goliad Road.
San Antonio Military Review 5 (1930 June 20) 36. Program and souvenir sections.