Daughters of the Republic of Texas Collection at Texas A&M University-San Antonio

A Guide to the Andrew Jackson Sowell Family Papers, circa 1880-circa 1954

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Sowell, A. J. (Andrew Jackson), 1848-1921
Title: Andrew Jackson Sowell Family Papers
Dates: Circa 1880-circa 1954
Abstract: The collection is primarily comprised of handwritten and typed drafts of Andrew Jackson Sowell’s works. Included is a manuscript copy of Life of Big Foot Wallace written entirely in Sowell’s hand and approximately fifty manuscripts and typescripts of short works by Sowell on early Texas history. Most of these essays describe various armed conflicts between Native Americans and Texas settlers.
Identification: Col 14817
Extent: 0.63 linear feet (2 boxes, 1 bound volume)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: DRT Collection at Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Biographical Note

Andrew Jackson Sowell was in some ways a third-generation Texan, although he was a member of the first generation of his family born in the state. His paternal grandfather John Newton Sowell (1780-1838) moved his family from Tennessee to Missouri and then to Texas, settling in Green DeWitt’s colony near Gonzales in 1830. During the Texas Revolution, he was one of the “Old Eighteen” in Gonzales and aided the Texan cause by making and repairing guns. Sowell’s uncle, also named Andrew Jackson Sowell (1815-1883), participated in several engagements during the Texas Revolution, serving at the Alamo garrison but departing to obtain supplies prior to its fall. Members of the Sowell family were among the earliest settlers in Guadalupe County, Texas.

Sowell’s maternal grandfather William Suddarth Turner (1787-1871) arrived in Texas with his wife and children in 1837 September. A veteran of the Creek War and War of 1812 who served under Andrew Jackson, Turner served in the Vasquez and Woll campaigns in Texas in 1842. He eventually settled in Seguin and was elected coroner of Guadalupe County in 1846. Sowell wrote in his History of Fort Bend County that his grandfather was a descendant of James Turner, the twelfth governor of North Carolina, an assertion that further research indicates may be incorrect.

Sowell’s father Asa Jarmon Lee Sowell (1822-1877) was born in Davidson County, Tennessee, near the Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson. Although too young to fight in the Texas Revolution, Asa later served with Capt. Jack Hays’ Texas Rangers. He also served as a district clerk (1846) and chief justice (1870-1874) in Guadalupe County. Asa Sowell married Mary Mildred Turner (1829-1873), also a native of Davidson County, Tennessee, on 1844 August 29 in Seguin, Gonzales (later Guadalupe) County, Texas. The couple had nine children.

Andrew Jackson Sowell was born near Seguin on 1848 August 2. From 1870 November until 1871 June, he was a Texas Ranger in Company F of the Frontier Battalion, serving under Capt. David P. Baker. During his service, he participated in the Wichita Campaign in northwest Texas, enduring a harsh winter and participating in several Indian fights.

Drawing on his own experiences as a Texas Ranger, events in his relatives’ lives, family history, and interviews, Sowell wrote numerous books and articles about the early history of Texas. His books include Rangers and Pioneers of Texas (1884), Life of Big Foot Wallace (1899), Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas (1900), History of Fort Bend County (1904), and Incidents Connected with the Early History of Guadalupe County, Texas (undated). Sowell also wrote feature articles for various publications, and in the 1910s he contributed the “Frontier Days of Texas” column to the San Antonio Light newspaper.

Andrew Jackson Sowell married Mary Lillian Tinsley (1855-1902) in Seguin on 1872 February 15. The couple had five children: Fountain Lee (1873-1930); Almedia Mildred (1875-1899); Adaline Willis (1877-1968), who married J. J. T. Hill; Emma Henriette (1882-1902); and Franky (1884-1884).

Although he traveled extensively around Texas, usually to visit relatives, in his later life Sowell lived near his daughter Adaline Sowell Hill in Center Point, Kerr County. Andrew Jackson Sowell died at Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio on 1921 July 4.


Ashton, Dorothy C. "Andrew Jackson Sowell." Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fso07.

Baumgartner, Dorcas. "John Sowell Family." In The History of Gonzales County, Texas, by the Gonzales County Historical Commission. Dallas: Curtis Media, 1986.

Cox, Mike. Introduction to Life of “Big Foot” Wallace, by A. J. Sowell. Austin, Texas: State House Press, 1989.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Patriot Ancestor Album. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing, 1995.

Sowell, Andrew Jackson. History of Fort Bend County, Containing Biographical Sketches of Many Noted Characters. Houston, Texas: W. H. Coyle and Co., 1904.

Sowell family biographical files, DRT Collection at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Sowell, Russell Lee, comp. Genealogical Record: Ancestors, Descendants, Relatives. Castroville, Texas, 1983.

Scope and Content Note

The collection is primarily comprised of handwritten and typed drafts of Andrew Jackson Sowell’s works.

Included is a manuscript copy of Life of Big Foot Wallace (1899) written entirely in Sowell’s hand, with minimal corrections or emendations made by him. Although they appear in the draft, the second half of Chapter 30 and the entirety of Chapter 31 do not appear in most, if not all, published editions of the book; these chapters describe Wallace’s life after the Civil War, with particular emphasis on his visit to Dallas in 1898 to attend a Texas Ranger reunion, accompanied by Sowell. A greatly condensed version of this section of the manuscript appears in the chapter on Wallace in Early Settlers and Indian Fighters of Southwest Texas. Other differences in the text and variations in chapter titles distinguish the manuscript from published editions; the draft also includes a list of all of the survivors of the Mier Expedition that is omitted in published versions. A 1934 edition of The Life of Big Foot Wallace, believed to have belonged to Andrew Jackson Sowell, is also included in the collection.

In addition to this manuscript are approximately fifty short works on early Texas history, most of them describing various conflicts and battles between Native Americans and Texas settlers. Of these shorter works, eleven are manuscripts in Sowell’s hand and twenty-five are typescripts that contain corrections written by Sowell’s granddaughter, Frances Alta Hill Brown Meadows (1903-1978). Thirteen of the pieces have both a manuscript and typescript copy and six have two typescript copies. Most, if not all, of the essays were incorporated into Sowell’s books and his “Frontier Days of Texas” articles in the San Antonio Light. These essays have been arranged alphabetically by title.

Andrew Jackson Sowell’s miscellaneous writings include an undated general history of early Texas in the hand of Sowell’s granddaughter Frances; notes; and two typescript copies of an index for an unidentified work. Also included here are two lists of essays, one compiled on an envelope by Frances. Each list includes some of the short works contained within the collection; some works are listed on both. Neither list appears to match the tables of contents in Sowell’s published books.

Sowell family material includes two pages of a story by Frances Alta Meadows and a canvas-bound “Day Book” containing Sowell’s listings of his various accounts, notes on Bible verses, and short work “Early Days in Texas.” The book also contains recipes written by Sowell’s granddaughter Frances and notes by her sister Twila Truetta Hill Spears (1906-2000).

With the exception of some entries in the ledger book, none of the other documents in the collection are dated. Based upon the publication dates of his works and the year of his death, it is estimated that the Andrew Jackson Sowell writings date from approximately 1880 to Sowell’s death in 1921. Using San Antonio city directories, it is estimated that the undated typescript by Frances Alta Meadows was written around 1952-1954, the years she resided at the address listed on the draft.


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
Sowell, A. J. (Andrew Jackson), 1848-1921.
Sowell family.
Meadows, Frances Alta Hill Brown, 1903-1978.
Spears, Twila Truetta Hill, 1906-2000.
Austin, Stephen F. (Stephen Fuller), 1793-1836.
Baylor, John Robert, 1822-1894.
Bowie, James, d. 1836.
Hays, John Coffee, 1817-1883.
Lamar, Mirabeau Buonaparte, 1798-1859.
Lee, Fitzhugh, 1835-1905.
Lockhart, Matilda--Captivity.
Long, Jane Herbert Wilkinson, 1798-1880.
Wallace, Big-Foot, 1817-1899.
Woll, Adrian, 1795-1875.
Authors, American.
Comanche Indians--Texas--History--19th century.
Frontier and pioneer life--Texas.
Indians of North America--Texas--19th century.
Texan Mier Expedition (1842-1844).
Texas Rangers--History--19th century.
Women--Texas--History--19th century.
Alamo (San Antonio, Tex.)--Siege, 1836.
Blanco County (Tex.)--History.
Cherokee County (Tex.)--History.
Comanche County (Tex.)--History.
Fannin County (Tex.)--History.
Fort Bend County (Tex.)--History.
Frio County (Tex.)--History.
Hood County (Tex.)--History.
Kendall County (Tex.)--History.
Llano County (Tex.)--History.
Parker County (Tex.)--History.
Family papers.
Personal papers.
Financial records.

Related Material

James T. DeShields Papers, 1815-1944, Col 882, DRT Collection at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Andrew Jackson Sowell Family Papers, circa 1880-circa 1954, Col 14817, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Weldon Lee Howard, 2011 January.

Gift of Lisa K. Westkaemper and Sarah Westkaemper Lake in honor of their mother Joyce Brown Westkaemper, 2011 January.

Processing Information

Processed by Caitlin Donnelly, 2011 February.

Finding aid encoded by Caitlin Donnelly, 2011 February.

Updated to EAD3 by Leslie Stapleton, 2021 March.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Andrew Jackson Sowell writings

Box Folder
1 Life of Big Foot Wallace, With a List of the Mier Prisoners
1 Title page, table of contents, and preface, manuscript, 10 pages.
2 Chapters 1-6, manuscript, 55 pages.
3 Chapters 7-12, manuscript, 62 pages.
4 Chapters 13-18, manuscript, 62 pages.
5 Chapters 19-24, manuscript, 54 pages.
6 Chapters 25-31, manuscript, 60 pages.
7 “Outline of Remaining Chapters,” typescripts, 8 pages each.
8 Sowell, A. J. The Life of “Big Foot” Wallace. Bandera, Texas: Frontier Times, 1934.
Short works
9 “Battle between Captain Jack Hays and His Rangers and Comanche Indians at the Enchanted Rock,” manuscript, 4 pages; typescript, 3 pages.
10 “Battle between Jack Hays’ Rangers and Comanche Indians on the Pedernales River,” manuscript, 4 pages; typescript, 4 pages.
11 “Battle between Rangers and Indians; Colonel Dalrymple Lanced,” typescript, 5 pages.
12 “Battle between Rangers, Indians and Settlers,” typescript, 4 pages.
13 “Battle with Indians in Comanche County,” manuscript, 5 pages; typescript, 4 pages.
14 “Battle with Kickapoo Indians at Dove Creek; Disastrous to Texas Pioneers,” typescript, 6 pages.
15 “Burying a Ranger in the Surveyor’s Grave,” typescript, 9 pages.
16 “Captain Tumlinson Killed,” manuscript, 6 pages.
17 “Capturing the Noted Bandit,” manuscript, 6 pages; typescript, 4 pages; from the Marfa (Texas) Town Talk, 1914 June 19.
18 “Cowboys and Indians Meet,” typescript, 4 pages.
19 “Expedition into Mexico,” manuscript, 7 pages; typescript, 6 pages.
20 “Fights with Indians in Hood County; Death of William Jenkins,” manuscript, 8 pages; typescript, 7 pages.
21 “Fights with Indians in Parker County,” manuscript, 9 pages.
22 “Fight with Indians in Blanco County in Which Two Brave Women Participated,” manuscript, 8 pages; typescript, 7 pages.
23 “First Company of Texas Rangers Ordered Out by Stephen F. Austin – 1824,” manuscript, 9 pages; typescripts, 7 pages each.
24 “Four of the Dowdy Family Killed by Indians; Settlers in Pursuit of Indians Nearly Perish for Water,” typescript, 5 pages.
25 “Frontier Days of Texas: Buffalo Hunters Attacked by Indians – Caddo Indians Employ Ingenious Method to Frighten Horses of Settlers,” manuscript, 6 pages.
26 “Frontier Days of Texas: Fight between Cowboys and Indians,” typescript, 4 pages.
27 “General Fitzhugh Lee has a Hand to Hand Fight with a Commanche [sic],” typescript, 3 pages.
28 “Heroism of Women Displayed in Night Battle between the Duggans and Raiding Indians,” manuscript, 8 pages; typescript, 7 pages.
29 “Incidents of a Raid in Frio County 1871,” manuscript, 6 pages, incomplete.
30 “Incidents of the Invasion of Texas by the Mexicans under General Wall in 1842,” typescript, 12 pages.
31 “Indian Raids and Battles,” typescript, 5 pages.
32 “Indian Raids in Cherokee County and along the Colorado River in the Days when Texas was a Republic,” typescript, 6 pages.
33 “Indian Raids in Fannin County,” typescript, 4 pages.
34 “Indian Raids in North Texas,” typescript, 6 pages.
35 “Indian Raids when Texas Belonged to Mexico,” manuscript, 7 pages.
36 “Indians Attack the Taylor Family,” manuscript, 3 pages.
37 “James Alexander and Son Killed,” typescript, 3 pages.
38 “James Bowie and His Men in a Fight with Indians at a Silver Mine in Frio Mountains,” typescripts, 7 pages each.
Box Folder
2 39 “Last Days of Steven [sic] F. Austin; Historic Places in Fort Bend County,” typescripts, 8 pages each.
40 “Last Messenger from the Alamo,” manuscript, 5 pages; typescript, 5 pages.
41 “Masacre [sic] at Fort Parker,” manuscript, 8 pages.
42 “Matilda Lockhart and the Putnam Children Captured by Indians,” manuscript, 17 pages.
43 “Mirabeau B. Lamar, Texas Patriot: An Appreciation of a Pioneer Whose Services Counted Heavily Toward Acquiring Independence for Texas and Placing the Republic on a Firm Footing,” typescripts, 8 pages each.
44 “The Mother of Texas (Heroic but Pathetic Experiences of the Leader of Long’s Expedition, an Ill-fated Attempt to Wrest Northern Mexico, Including Texas, from the King of Spain),” typescripts, 10 pages each.
45 “Paint Creek Fight: Gen. John R. Baylor’s Indian Battle 1860 – He and His Comrades Fight the Comanches Hand to Hand – Ancestors of the Baylors,” manuscript, 37 pages; typescript, 32 pages.
46 “Pathetic Incidents of the Battle of the Alamo – The Loosing [sic] of the Little Cannon that Brought on the Texas Revolution,” typescript, 5 pages.
47 “A Pioneer Carves His Name on His Own Tombstone – Indians Cut off a Man’s Only Remaining Arm and Feast on Human Flesh,” manuscript, 8 pages.
48 “Rangers Sent on a Perilous Mission,” manuscript, 10 pages.
49 “Samuel Kuykendall Killed by Indians,” typescript, 7 pages.
50 “A Series of Frontier Tragedies Showing the Peril Constantly Faced by Early Settlers,” typescript, 3 pages, incomplete.
51 “Some Early History of Kendall County and Pioneer Life in the Llano County in 1848,” manuscript, 8 pages.
52 “Terrible Fate of the Webster Party,” manuscript, 7 pages.
53 “Tragedies and Humorous Incidents of the Frontier,” typescript, 7 pages.
54 “Two Types of Texas Frontiersmen, Part 2,” typescript, 2 pages, incomplete.
55 “What Occurred after the Last Gun was Fired at the Alamo, as Told by a Mexican Fifer who was an Eye Witness,” manuscript, 5 pages; typescripts, 4 pages each.
56 “Young Texan is Three Years a Captive of Comanche Indians: Romantic Experiences of John Sowell, in the Days when Raids by Redskins Made Necessary the Maintenance of Companies of Minute Men by White Settlers on the Frontier,” typescript, 13 pages.
Miscellaneous writings
57 Untitled history of early Texas, manuscript and typescript, 26 pages.
58 Miscellaneous, typescripts, 2 pages.
59 Index, typescripts, 29 pages each.
60 “Early Days in Texas from Grandpa’s Day Book,” list of articles on envelope.
61 “Contents,” list of articles, typescript, 2 pages.

Sowell family papers

Box Folder
2 62 Frances Alta Meadows untitled story, typescript, 2 pages, incomplete, circa 1952-1954.
Bound Doc 1 Day Book, 1917-1923 and undated.