Albert and Ethel Herzstein Library, San Jacinto Museum of History

Madison G. Whitaker Family Papers

Manuscript Collection: MC108

Collection Summary

Creator: Whitaker, Madison G., b. 1811
Title: Madison G. Whitaker family papers
Dates: 1839-1893
(Bulk: 1884-1893)
Abstract: Photographs, family documents, newspaper articles, a greeting card, poem, and autograph album document the lives of Madison G. Whitaker, Sam McKneely, Thracian and Lavinia Dickson, and Mattie Olivia Whitaker.
Identification: MC108
OCLC Record No.: 55148173
Quantity: 30 items
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, Texas

Creator Sketch

Madison G. Whitaker, longtime resident of Nacogdoches, Texas, was born April 4, 1811, to John and Nancy Whitaker in Lincoln County, Tennessee. In 1835 he joined his half-brother William in Nacogdoches. Whitaker enlisted in Capt. Thomas J. Rusk's company in October 1835 and marched to San Antonio de Bexar. He refused a commission as second lieutenant in the revolutionary army November 28, 1835, and returned to Nacogdoches. In March 1836 he enlisted as a private in the Nacogdoches Volunteer Company and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto under Sidney Sherman. He was discharged June 6, 1836.

Whitaker probably fought in the Cherokee War of 1839 under General Kelsey H. Douglass. Whitaker served two terms as a senator in the Texas State Legislature (1853-1856). He was a lifelong member of the Masons, a charter member and officer in the Texas Veterans Association, and a trustee of Nacogdoches University.

Whitaker married Henrietta M. Fitts on August 25, 1842. They had 8 children including a daughter, Mattie Olivia Whitaker (1852-1929). He died January 23, 1893, and is buried in Old North Church Cemetery north of Nacogdoches.

Sam W. McKneely [McNeely] was born in 1813 in Louisiana. He came to Texas in 1835 and enlisted in the army at Bexar December 9, 1835. He fought at the Battle of San Jacinto and remained in the army until his discharge on December 19, 1836. McKneely was a member of the Masons and present at the first meeting of the Texas Veterans Association in 1873.

McKneely married three times. His first two wives were sisters, Thracian and Hannah Lavinia Dickson. Lavinia died September 1876. Mattie Olivia Whitaker, daughter of Madison G. Whitaker, became his third wife. It is likely that in 1882 McKneely and Mattie moved from Texarkana, Arkansas, to Louisiana where he died in Point Coupe parish in 1888.

Scope and Content Note

Photographs (9), family documents (5), newspaper articles (13), a greeting card, poem, and autograph album document the lives of Madison G. Whitaker, Sam McKneely, Thracian and Lavinia Dickson, and Mattie Olivia Whitaker. Of the nine photographs only 2 people are identified, Madison G. Whitaker and Mattie Olivia Whitaker. The people in the seven cased photographs are not identified, although it is likely one may be a member of the Dickson family. Family documents include a note from Hannah's teacher written in 1839, a handwritten funeral notice announcing services for Mrs. S. W. McKneely (September 2, 1876), Sam W. McKneely's Masonic Demit signed September 4, 1882, Resolutions written on the death of Madison G. Whitaker by the representatives of Milam Lodge No. 2 A. F. and A. M. (1893), and a commercial letter written to the Whitaker family offering to provide a clipping service for any death notices appearing in United States papers (1893). Newspaper articles include published letters from Moses Austin Bryan and Reuben M. Potter (1884); accounts of Texas Veterans Association and Daughters of the Republic of Texas meetings (1886, 1887, 1892); and obituaries for Madison G. Whitaker (5) and Walter P. Lane (1). A poem written possibly by Thracian McKneely in 1845 and copied by Lavinia McKneely in 1867 reveals 19th century attitudes toward the death of children. Of particular interest is the Jenny Lind autograph album (1857-1863) belonging to Lavinia Dickson McKneely. Not only does the album record the feelings of friends concerning separation and friendship, it also contains a series of steel cut engravings of young idealized women. The album also includes clippings and the poem "Always Spring" by David M. Stone, which has been cut from a book.


Organized into five series: Family documents, Creative works, Printed Materials-Cards, Printed Materials-Newspapers, and Photographs; 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

Bryan, Moses Austin, 1817-1895
Lane, Walter P. (Walter Paye), 1817-1892
McKneely, Mattie Olivia Whitaker
McKneely, Sam W.
McKneely, Thracian Dickson
Potter, Reuben M. (Reuben Marmaduke), 1802-1890
Whitaker, Madison G., 1811-1893
McKneely family
Whitaker family
Daughters of the Republic of Texas
Texas Veterans Association
Autograph albums

Archivist's Note

Also of interest is a watercolor, created from a photograph and inscribed on the back "Col. Sam McKneely / Thracian or Lavinia Dickson McKneely / [__] member of Dickson family" in the collections of the San Jacinto Museum of History.

Administrative Information


[Identification of Item], Madison G. Whitaker Family Papers, MC108, San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Bonham, May 20, 1952.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Canby Jackson, 2004.


Brown, Donald G. "Whitaker, Madison G." The New Handbook of Texas, Vol. 6, 924. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996.

Dixon, Sam Houston and Louis Wiltz Kemp. The Heroes of San Jacinto. Houston: Anson Jones Press, 1932.


Madison G. Whitaker Family Papers

box folder
144.1 1 Family Documents 1839-1893
2 Creative Works 1867
3 Printed Materials - Cards undated: circa 1839-1893
4 Printed Materials - Newspapers 1884-1893
5 Photographs 1858, undated
range shelf
14 3 Jenny Lind Album circa 1857-1863