Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Thomas Jefferson Chambers Papers

Manuscript Collection: MC018

Collection Summary

Creator: Chambers, Thomas Jefferson, 1802-1865
Title: Thomas Jefferson Chambers papers
Dates: 1830-1942
Dates (Bulk): (Bulk: 1870-1925)
Abstract: The Thomas Jefferson Chambers Papers document land tenure of the Chambers family in Texas from 1830 through 1925.
Identification: MC018
OCLC Record No.: 47111337
Quantity: 2 boxes (.8 linear feet)
Language: Materials are in English and Spanish.
Repository: Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library,
San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

Thomas Jefferson Chambers (1802-1865), an accomplished lawyer, land speculator, army general and politician in Texas, served under the rule of Mexico, the Republic, the Union and the Confederacy. Born in Virginia, he moved to Mexico City in 1826. In 1829 he was appointed the surveyor general of Texas. Through purchase and land grants, Chambers obtained title to 16 leagues of land located in present day Ellis, Navarro, Chambers and Hays counties. In 1830, Chambers received Mexican citizenship and license to practice law. He was state assessor briefly in 1834 and authored the Chambers Jury Law which brought jury trial to Texas. Also in 1834, he became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas. In payment for this office, Chambers was granted thirteen leagues of land which he selected from the site of present day Austin. During the Texas Revolution, Chambers received a commission to raise the Army of the Reserve on his own credit and was reimbursed with 1,280 acres of land in 1846. He entered and lost four political elections between 1839 and 1861. These years also brought the loss of much of his land due to lawsuits in 1855 and 1862. In 1861 he represented Chambers County at the state secession convention. As a volunteer aid to an officer in Hood's Texas Brigade, Chambers was wounded during the Seven Days' Battles. In 1865, Chambers was shot and killed by an unknown assassin at his home in Anahuac while holding his daughter Kate on his lap.

The state of Texas failed to reimburse Chambers or his estate for large tracts of Austin land condemned in 1839 to establish the capital. This fact led to a long series of legal contests by Chambers' heirs who eventually won monetary compensation by an act of the Texas legislature in 1925.

Scope and Content Note

The Thomas Jefferson Chambers Papers document the fifty-five year legal battle from 1870 to 1925 by the Chambers heirs to obtain restitution for lands condemned by the State of Texas for construction of the capitol. The papers are divided into five groups, each composed of records created by Chambers or one of his heirs. Documents of Thomas Jefferson Chambers include correspondence sent and received that concern business ventures on his property, personal diaries (1836, 1856), legal briefs and opinions regarding Chambers v. Fisk et al, land grants and other legal documents. Records of his wife Abbie Chambers Thompson Saladee deal mostly with the administration of the Chambers estate. The collected documents of Kate C. Sturgis include correspondence by O.M. Roberts, William Martin Walton and other attorneys concerned with the case, memorials to the Texas Legislature (1886-1925), newspaper reports of the Chambers' legal battle (1925) and maps of Travis and Liberty counties (1824-1874). Her collected reports include many unsigned and undated documents, most likely created by her legal counsel, that address the legal issues of the land claim. The records of Katharine S. Evans include newspaper clippings about Thomas Jefferson Chambers and the legal battles of his heirs (1935-1936, 1942), correspondence from her attorneys regarding the final settlement (1925), legal documents, a photograph of Chambers' house and other materials which she collected for historical value, primarily in regard to the claim of the Chambers heirs. Many documents in this collection are retained only in transcript form, but are arranged as the originals which were at one time part of this collection.


Organized into five groups: Thomas Jefferson Chambers, Abbie Chambers Thompson Saladee, Kate C. Sturgis, Katharine S. Evans, and Stella J. MacGregor; arrangement is chronological.


Restrictions on Access


Terms Governing Use

Open for research by appointment.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the San Jacinto Museum of History. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Jacinto Museum of History as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Index Terms

Chambers, Thomas Jefferson, 1802-1865
Evans, Katharine S.
Roberts, Oran Milo, 1815-1898
Sturgis, Kate C.
Walton, William Martin, 1832-1915
Texas. Legislature. House of Representatives. House journal
Texas. Legislature. Senate. Senate journal
Texas State Capitol (Austin, Tex.)
Land tenure--Texas
Chambers County (Tex.)--19th century--Maps--Facsimiles
Liberty County (Tex.)
Liberty County (Tex.)--Maps
Texas--History--Republic, 1836-1846
Texas--History--Revolution, 1835-1836
Texas--Politics and government
Travis County (Tex.)
Travis County (Tex.)--Maps
Trinity Bay (Tex.)--19th century--Maps--Facsimiles
Austin American
Austin statesman
Christian Science monitor
Galveston tribune
Houston chronicle
Houston post-dispatch

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], Thomas Jefferson Chambers Papers, MC018, San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas.


Katharine S. Evans, 1949.

Processing Information

Processed by Todd Gilliom, 2001.


"Chambers, Thomas Jefferson." The Handbook of Texas Online


Thomas Jefferson Chambers

box folder
25 1 Letters Sent 1834, 1854, 1862
2 Letters Received from Edwin Goodman 1864
3 Letters Received from Thomas H. Jones 1860-1861, circa 1830-1865
4 General Correspondence Received 1843-1865
5 Journals 1830, 1836, 1856
box folder
25 6 Financial Documents 1863 February 2
box folder
25 7 List of Taxable Lands 1851, 1859
8 Translation of Certification of Naturalization 1855
9 Chambers v. Fisk, Briefs and Opinions 1852-1853, 1857, undated
10 Land Grants and Lease 1834-1859
Printed Materials
box folder
25 11 Printed Materials 1833
Creative Works
box folder
25 12 "This World tho' but a Fleeting Show" (poem) undated: circa 1830-1865
box folder
25 13 Thomas Jefferson Chambers: Photostats 1849-1860

Abbie Chambers Thompson Saladee

box folder
25 14 Received 1855-1875
box folder
25 15 Land Lease and Sale by Administratrix 1865-1867
16 Letter of Administration 1865 May
17 General Legal Documents 1866-1867
Printed Materials
box folder
25 18 Wedding Announcement and Memorial 1870, 1874

Kate C. Sturgis

box folder
25 19 George W. Davis 1886-1892
20 J.M. Moore 1891-1895, undated
21 O.M Roberts 1891-1895, 1897
22 William Martin Walton 1891-1899, undated
23 J.J. Butts 1895-1896
24 General 1897-1899
box folder
25 25 Contracts and Deeds of Kate C. Sturgis 1890-1891, 1925
26 Statements of Fact 1890-1891, 1925
27 Affidavits (signed) 1928-1930
28 Affidavits (unsigned) 1928-1930
29 Acts of Texas Provisional Government 1836
30 Acts of Republic of Texas Legislature 1837-1840
31 Acts of Legislature of State of Texas 1895-1925
32 Court Orders 1839, 1866
33 Certified Statements on Land 1870, 1891, 1893
Printed Materials
box folder
26 1 Memorials 1891, 1909
2 Newspapers and Newspaper Clippings 1913, 1925
3 House Journal 1913, 1923, 1925
4 Senate Journal 1923-1925
5 Membership of the 39th Legislature 1925
Creative Works
box folder
26 6 Memorials undated
box folder
26 7 Lists of Papers 1917, undated
8 Concerning Chambers Claim undated
9 Land Grants and Titles undated
10 Other Matters undated
Collected Correspondence and Notes
box folder
26 11 Received by O.M. Roberts 1892-1895, undated
12 Received by William Martin Walton 1893-1896
13 Letters Received by Robert G. Street 1909
14 Letters Received by Norman G. Kittrell undated
15 Assorted Other Correspondence 1891, 1925
16 Chambers Claim undated
box folder
26 17 Maps 1824, 1837, 1839, 1862, 1874, undated
box folder
26 18 Cased Photographs undated
box folder
26 19 Maps and Keys to Maps undated

Katharine S. Evans

box folder
26 20 Received from Robert E. Cofer 1925
21 Request for and Receipt of Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo 1925
box folder
26 22 Legal Documents 1848, 1925, 1940
Printed Materials
box folder
26 23 Newspapers and Newspaper Clippings 1935-1936, 1942, circa 1925-1942
24 Assorted Other Printed Materials 1925, 1934, undated
box folder
26 25 Katharine S. Evans: Reports 1928,1941
box folder
26 26 T. J. Chambers home with marker undated
box folder
26 27 Slave Manifest 1852

Stella J. MacGregor

box folder
26 28 Collected Documents and Photographs 1868, undated