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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Arrangement of the Collection

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Jacob de Cordova letter book, 1851-1856

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Jacob de Cordova:

An Inventory of the Jacob de Cordova Letter Book at the Texas State Archives, 1851-1856



Overview

Creator: De Cordova, Jacob, 1808-1868.
Title: Jacob de Cordova letter book
Dates: 1851-1856
Abstract: Jacob Raphael de Cordova was a Texas land agent and colonizer. The Jacob de Cordova letter book contains copies of outgoing correspondence from de Cordova relating to his business as a land agent, dating from 1851 to 1856. This book has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.
TSLAC Control No.: TX003980
Quantity: 0.3 cubic ft. (1 letter book)
Language: These materials are written in English.
Repository: Texas State Archives
Sponsor: This EAD finding aid was created in cooperation with Texas Archival Resources Online.

Biographical Sketch

Jacob Raphael de Cordova, Texas land agent and colonizer, was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, on June 6, 1808. He was the youngest of the three sons of Judith and Raphael de Cordova. De Cordova was raised by an aunt in England and joined his father, a Jewish Jamaican coffee grower and exporter, in Philadelphia in 1820. He married Rebecca Sterling around 1826 and learned the printing trade. His ancestors had supported themselves as printers for generations, beginning in the sixteenth century when a de Cordova in Spain published Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's explorations in Texas, the Relación, in 1542. In 1834 Jacob moved back to Jamaica, where he and his brother Joshua started a newspaper, the Kingston Daily Gleaner. In early 1836, Jacob went to New Orleans, where he shipped supplies to Texas during its struggle for independence. While in New Orleans, he served a term as Grand Master of the Odd Fellows. After the battle of San Jacinto, he visited the Republic of Texas to install members in Odd Fellows lodges (the first established outside the United States).

De Cordova settled in Texas in 1839 and lived in Galveston and Houston, where he was elected as a state representative to the 2nd Texas Legislature in 1847. De Cordova traveled extensively throughout Texas, including western frontier areas. Through scrip and direct purchase, he acquired large amounts of land to sell to settlers; at one time he had a million acres in scrip or title. To attract settlers to Texas, he made speeches in New York, Philadelphia, and Manchester, England, among other cities. His lectures were published on both sides of the Atlantic. The Texas Land Agency, which Jacob owned with his half-brother Phineas de Cordova, became one of the largest land agencies in the southwest.

De Cordova and Robert Creuzbaur compiled the Map of the State of Texas, first published in 1849. The details of this map were checked by surveyor, cartographer, and General Land Office draftsman Charles W. Pressler, who served as the head of Jacob de Cordova's survey expeditions. Subsequent Texas cartography often was based on this map, which was praised by Sam Houston on the floor of the United States Senate. De Cordova wrote books to attract settlers to Texas, including The Texas Immigrant and Traveller's Guide Book (1856), and Texas, Her Resources and Her Public Men (1858), the latter a first attempt at an encyclopedia of Texas. Jacob and Phineas de Cordova published two early Texas newspapers—the Texas Herald out of Houston and the Southwestern American out of Austin. Governor Peter H. Bell used the Southwestern American to help pass the Compromise of 1850, which resulted in a $10 million payment to Texas for adjusted boundaries after annexation. In the 1850s, de Cordova moved from Austin to Seguin, where he built a home he called the "Wanderer's Retreat." Jacob de Cordova died on January 26, 1868, and originally was buried in Kimball. In 1935, his and his wife's remains were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin. He was survived by five children.

(Sources include: Ornish, Natalie, "De Cordova, Jacob Raphael," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed on August 8, 2019, and the collection itself.)

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Jacob de Cordova letter book contains copies of outgoing correspondence from de Cordova relating to his business as a land agent, dating from 1851 to 1856. The book consists of two sections: "Assessors and Collectors" and "Letters to Phineas de Cordova and Commissioner of the General Land Office Austin and other persons," each with an alphabetized index of correspondents. Noteworthy correspondents include Jacob's brother Phineas de Cordova, former Governor James Pinckney Henderson, General Land Office commissioner George Washington Smyth, and General Land Office draftsman Charles W. Pressler.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The letter book consists of a single item. Copies of outgoing correspondence are arranged chronologically by section.

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Under the Copyright Act of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. The term of copyright for published material varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

The letter book is too fragile to be photocopied.

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Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Subjects (Persons):
De Cordova, Phineas, 1819-1903.
Henderson, James Pinckney, 1808-1858.
Pressler, Chas. W.
Smyth, G. W. (George Washington), 1803-1866.
Subjects:
Land grants--Texas.
Places:
Texas.
Document Types:
Letter books--Texas.

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Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
George Washington Smyth papers, 1833-1865, undated, bulk 1836-1841
Texas General Land Office incoming correspondence, 1837-1899, 374.25 cubic ft., plus 7 volumes
Texas General Land Office records, 1835-1943, undated, about 5.35 cubic ft., plus 28 volumes. [There is no finding aid for these unprocessed records. Call numbers are 2-1/218 thru 2-1/229, 2-6/670 thru 2-6/672, 2-6/740, 2-7/635, 2-7/657, 2-7/659, 2-7/679, 2-7/1090, 2-7/1161, 2-7/1261, 2-10/277, 2-10/282, 2-10/287 thru 2-10/290, 2-10/851, 2-14/114, 2-23/923, 4-20/179, 2016/183, 2016/184, 2016/185, 2016/186, 2016/187, and 2016/188.] [Records include land registers, correspondence, receipts, scrips, maps, land deeds, memoirs, and lists of land for sale.]
Texas Governor Peter Hansbrough Bell records, 1849-1853, 1.88 cubic ft.
Baylor University
De Cordova Family Papers, Inclusive: 1845-1956, bulk: 1845-1863, 1 document box
Briscoe Center for American History
Irving H. Webb Texas Surveyors Collection, 1836-1976, 21 feet
Wied Archives, 1839-1881, 2 ft., 6 in.
San Jacinto Museum of History
Andrew Briscoe Papers, 1828-1881, bulk 1836-1849, 4 boxes (1.4 linear ft.)
Texas General Land Office
Peters Colony Records, 1841-1859, 5.38 linear feet (1 document box, 3 oversized boxes)
Publications
Creuzbaur, Robert. J. De Cordova's map of the state of Texas New edition, revised and corrected to date. G.W. and C.B. Colton and Co., 1872.
Creuzbaur, Robert. J. De Cordova's map of the state of Texas Rev. and corr. / by Charles W. Pressler. J.H. Colton and Co., 1856.
Creuzbaur, Robert. J. De Cordova's map of the state of Texas. [Publisher not identified], 1851.
Day, James M., 1932-2005. Jacob de Cordova, land merchant. J.M. Day, 1962, 1958.
De Cordova, Jacob, 1808-1868. The cultivation of cotton in Texas: the advantages of free labour. J. King and Co., 1858.
De Cordova, Jacob, 1808-1868. Lecture on Texas delivered by Mr. J. De Cordova: Also, a paper read by him before the New York geographical society, April 15th, 1858. E. Crozet, 1858.
De Cordova, Jacob, 1808-1868. The state of Texas, her capabilities and her resources: a companion for J. De Cordova's New and correct map of the state of Texas. News Book and Job Establishment, n.d.
De Cordova, Jacob, 1808-1868. Texas: her resources and her public men: a companion for J. De Cordova's new and correct map of the state of Texas. J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1969, 1858.
Woods, J.M. Jacob de Cordova: pioneer and fraternalist. Seguin Enterprise, n.d.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Jacob de Cordova letter book. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 2012/174

These records were purchased by the Archives Division of the Texas Library and Historical Commission from Frank Caldwell on October 7, 1940.

Processing Information

Processed by Tiffany Criswell, August 2019

Other Formats for the Collection

This letter book has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive, available online at https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/manuscripts-collections/#deCordova.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Jacob de Cordova letter book, 1851-1856
0.3 cubic ft.

Box
2012/174 Jacob de Cordova letter book, 1851-1856
[1 letter book]

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