University of Texas Arlington

Chandler Family Papers:

A Guide

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Chandler, Jacob T.
Title: Chandler Family Papers
Dates: 1859-1886
Abstract: Papers consist of letters, fragments of letters, envelopes, and a daguerreotype related to the Jacob T. Chandler family. The bulk of the letters are from 1859-1869 and pertain to life in Texas and Wisconsin in the mid-19th century. Jacob Chandler was married to Caroline Gammons, who remained in Middleboro, Massachusetts throughout this period while Jacob and several other members of the family moved to Texas. Throughout most of the period, Jacob was employed by the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. Jacob and Caroline had three children, the eldest of whom joined his father in employment at the Texas Penitentiary at age eighteen and was soon promoted to assistant superintendent. The letters of this son, Charles, are included in this collection.
Identification: GA131
Extent: 9 folders (0.12 linear ft.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Biographical Note

Jacob T. Chandler was born approximately 1821 and raised in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. In the late 1850s, after marrying Caroline Gammonds and having three children, Jacob moved to Texas where he took employment at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. In 1859, while he was in Texas, Caroline moved the family to Middleboro, Massachusetts.

Jacob's oldest child, Charles, followed his father to Texas in the fall of 1860. He traveled to Texas with a Mr. Turner, an Austin lawyer in partnership with Jacob's brother Frederick. Charles worked in a store in Austin for a year before moving to Huntsville and taking a position with the penitentiary as a guard. Due to his skills as a bookkeeper, Charles was promoted to Assistant Superintendent of the Penitentiary in charge of the books in August, 1863.

Because Jacob and Charles worked for the state penitentiary, both were exempt from military duty during the Civil War. Jacob, realizing the fleeting value of the Confederate dollar, postponed receiving his pay for the final two years of the war until hostilities had ended. At that time he accepted cloth from the prison mill in exchange for his pay. Upon reselling this cloth, Jacob received considerably more than what the state had owed him.

On April 15, 1864, Charles married a local Huntsville woman, Mary. Their first child, Caroline, was born January 28, 1865. In January, 1866, Jacob's brother, James, moved his family to Texas, settling in Austin and opening a store.

Jacob, Charles, Mary and Caroline went to Massachusetts in the spring of 1866 for a long visit. During this time, Jacob's drinking problems created much stress in his relationship with his wife. When Jacob and Charles returned to Texas in October, 1866, Jacob's wife remained in Middleboro with their two younger children.

Upon returning to Texas, Jacob turned down an offer to return to the penitentiary and took a job as a storekeeper in New Braunfels. By December, 1866, Charles had decided to take his offer to return to the penitentiary and was again hired as a guard. In January, 1867, Charles wrote to his mother that Jacob had succeeded in changing his ways and had stopped drinking. By September of that year, Jacob returned to employment at Huntsville.

The fall of 1867 was very difficult for the Chandler family in Texas. Yellow fever hit Huntsville in September and swept through the family. Mary's mother died on September 19, her sister died and Mary had a baby boy on September 25, and Charles died on October 5. Jacob arranged for Mary to board at the penitentiary with her younger siblings, one of whom died there. Jacob, now a man in his late forties, was responsible for his wife and two children in Massachusetts and his daughter-in-law, two grandchildren and Mary's sister in Huntsville. By mid-October, the yellow fever epidemic was abating in Huntsville. Jacob sent Mary and the children to friends in the country near Huntsville until the epidemic was completely over. Unfortunately, the woman with whom Mary and the children were staying, contracted the disease three days after they arrived and died two days later. Within a week, Mary, Caroline and Mary's sister were all sick. Only Jacob and the baby, Charles, were still healthy. Mary died October 27, 1867, leaving Jacob with two young children to raise. Caroline regained her health and he was able to find an African American woman to care for the infant until other arrangements could be made.

The infant's name was changed from Jacob (Charles' choice) to Charles Jacob (Mary's choice) after Charles' death. After Mary's death, Jacob renamed the baby again, this time to Charles Albert, his father's name.

In the spring of 1869, James, Jacob's brother, agreed to take Caroline to Massachusetts to live with her grandmother. Charles remained in Texas at least until 1886 when Jacob comments on seeing him.

Jacob Chandler spent some thirty years in Texas, mostly working for the state penitentiary. According to the 1870 census, he was the superintendent of the cotton mill in Huntsville. Other than that information and the letters his wife saved, we have no other information about his family, his life or his work. The 1870 census shows he was forty-nine at that time. The last record we have of him was a letter he wrote to his wife dated April 23, 1886. Throughout the time he lived in Texas, we know of only one trip he made to Massachusetts to visit his wife. She never traveled to Texas.

During most of his adult working life, Jacob was trying to pay off debts he had incurred in Massachusetts. He apparently was a hard worker, as he was a favorite of the superintendent of the penitentiary. We have no record of when he died.

Scope and Contents

The Chandler Family Papers consist of letters and a daguerreotype.

The Chandler Family series consists of correspondence to Caroline Chandler and George W. Chandler from various relatives. The letters in this series date from 1859 to 1886, with a majority of the letters dating from 1859 to 1869. The letters pertain to the financial dealings of Jacob and Caroline Chandler, the Yellow Fever epidemic in Huntsville, Texas in 1867, farming in Texas and Wisconsin, personnel at the Texas State Penitentiary, and mail delivery between Massachusetts and Texas.

The Wiswell letter is from Francis Wiswell to her brother Elijah, a prisoner at the Texas State Penitentiary, and is dated June 17, 1860.

The daguerreotype is an undated portrait of Jacob Chandler.


Materials are arranged in chronological order within each series.
Series I. Chandler Family Correspondence (7 folders)
Series II. Wiswell Letter (1 folder)
Series III. Daguerreotype (1 folder)



Open for research.

Index Terms

These materials are indexed under the following headings in the catalog of The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Chandler, J. T. (Jacob T.), 1821--Archives.
Chandler, Caroline Gammons--Archives.
Chandler, Charles H., 1842-1867--Archives.
Gammons, Warren--Archives.
Chandler, Mary (Mollie), d. 1867--Archives.
Chandler family--Archives.
Gammons family--Archives.
Texas--State Penitentiary at Huntsville--Officials and employees.
Farm life--Texas--Sources.
Farm life--Wisconsin--Dane County--Sources.
Prisons--Texas--Officials and employees.
Yellow fever--Texas--Huntsville--Sources.
United States--History.
Alternate Titles
Historical Manuscripts Collection

Administrative Information


Chandler Family Papers, GA131, Box Number, Folder Number, Special Collections, The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.


The Chandler Family Papers were purchased by the Special Collections Division of The University of Texas at Arlington Libraries from Charles Apfelbaum of Stream Valley, New York on August 7, 1987. Accessioned as number 87-29.

Administrative Information


The retrospective updating and conversion of this finding aid was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Special Collections "Documenting Democracy: Access to Historical Records" projects, 2014-2015.

Container List

Chandler Family Correspondence (7 folders)

Box Folder
GA131 1 Chandler Correspondence, 1859-1860
11 letters.
Includes letters to Caroline Chandler from her husband Jacob T., her son Charles A., and her brother Warren Gammons. Letters describe family finances, changes in personnel at the Texas State Penitentiary with the change in governor (January 28, 1860). Letter from Warren (November 1, 1860) describes farm life in Dane County, Wisconsin.
2 Chandler Correspondence, 1861-1863
14 letters.
Letters to Caroline from Jacob, Charles, Warren, her brother John Gammons, and her brother-in-law James A. Chandler. Letters deal with concerns regarding the Civil War, problems with mail delivery, school and family life. Charles' letter of May 27, 1861 describes Austin, Texas. Jacob's letter of August 26, 1863 mentions Charles' promotion to Assistant Superintendent of the Penitentiary. Charles' letter of September 25, 1863 describes himself and his duties at the penitentiary.
3 Chandler Correspondence, 1864-1865
10 letters.
Letters to Caroline from Warren, her sister-in-law Sarah (Warren's wife), Jacob, and Charles. Letters describe family life. Warren writes regarding crop prices and costs of remolding a house, and mentions paying a bounty to stay out of the army (July 4, 1864). Jacob's letter of September 30, 1864 mentions Charles' marriage. Charles' letter of July 2, 1865 mentions the birth of his daughter and Jacob's settlement in lieu of salary. Warren describes size of 1865 crop (November 28, 1865).
4 Chandler Correspondence, 1866
12 letters.
Letters to Caroline from Jacob, Lydia (James' wife), Charles, and Mollie (Mary-Charles' wife). Letters describe preparation for trip to Massachusetts and return to Texas, Jacob's drinking problem, and life in Texas.
5 Chandler Correspondence, 1867
20 letters.
Letters to Caroline from Charles, Lydia, Warren, Mollie, and Jacob. One letter from Charles to his brother, George W. Letters describe family life, food prices, and the Yellow Fever epidemic in Huntsville. Mollie's letter of July 21, 1867 describes the June teenth celebration in Huntsville. Deaths of Mollie, her mother, her sister, and Charles, and the birth of Charles' and Mollie's son are noted.
6 Chandler Correspondence, 1868-1886
15 letters.
Letters to Caroline from Jacob, Lydia, Dora (Caroline's niece), and Warren. Letters to George W. from Jacob. Letters describe family life and financing a house. December 5, 1871 letter from Warren describes crops in Wisconsin.
7 Chandler Correspondence, Fragments and Envelopes, undated
8 items.
4 envelopes and 4 letter fragments. Fragment from Jacob to Caroline discusses family finances; fragment from Charles to Caroline contains graphic description of Texas.

Wiswell Letter (1 folder)

Box Folder
GA131 8 Wiswell Letter, 1860
1 letter.
Letter from Francis A. Wiswell of Berewere, Maine to his brother Elijah, a prisoner in the Texas State Penitentiary. Letter discusses how he got in prison. Includes a note to Col. Carothers, Superintendent of the Penitentiary, thanking him for writing to the family.

Daguerreotype (1 folder)

Box Folder
GA131 9 Daguerreotype of Jacob T. Chandler undated.