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Cavitt Family Papers

  • US TxAM-C 805
  • Collection
  • circa 1870s-post 1900s

The collection consists of personal correspondence and documents of J. F. Cavitt and other documents of significant importance. Included is the correspondence of and articles about Ann Cavitt Armstrong, that sheds a light on the early settlement period of Texas. Financial documents also shed a light on the early history of Texas, including court documents and receipts of slave purchases.

Cavitt, Joseph Franklin

Cherokee Freedman Collection

  • US TxAM-C 231
  • Collection
  • 1900-1907

This collection is composed of written interviews of African Americans and Native Americans conducted by the Department of the Interior's Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. The interviews, testimonies, and affidavits relate to applications of African Americans denied enrollment as Cherokee Freedmen during the Dawes Commission. "An act of Congress approved March 3, 1893, established a commission to negotiate agreements with the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee Indian tribes. The commission became known as the Dawes Commission, after its chairman Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts. The commission's mission was to divide tribal land into plots which were then divided among the members of the tribe. As part of this process, the Commission either accepted or rejected applicants for tribal membership based on whether the tribal government had previously recognized the applicant as a member of the tribe and other legal requirements. Applicants were categorized as Citizens by Blood, Citizens by Marriage, Minor Citizens by Blood, New Born Citizens by Blood, Freedmen (African Americans formerly enslaved by tribal members), New Born Freedmen, and Minor Freedmen.

The collection encompasses around 140 documents from 42 applications affecting over 100 people. Most of the documents are with their original envelopes, all but one of which is dated within a month of each other in 1904, though the documents themselves range in date within a six-year span. The majority of the hearings were conducted at Fort Gibson or Muskogee, and many of the applicants were either related or testified on one another's behalf. There is a high degree of intertextuality between files in regard to people and places mentioned. In addition to the interviews, there are also interdepartmental letters between various commissioners and the Secretary of the Interior, and notices to applicants and their lawyers. The collection offers a primary source on the arbitration involved in the decision of who did and did not count as Cherokee Freedmen, as well as frontier life in general both before and after the war. The language used vividly reveals the prevailing racial attitudes of the day, chiefly toward African Americans and Native Americans; casual use is made of pejorative terms, and open prejudice is occasionally voiced.

Many of the testimonies include personal histories, sometimes dating as far back as the 1830s, and great detail is given on the moving of slaves to and from the Cherokee Nation during the Civil War. Notable pieces include accounts of runaway slaves returning to their separated families, individual reactions to Emancipation, and a letter directly to the Secretary of the Interior personally written by an applicant, requesting that her case be re-opened. The letter, polite and heartfelt but clearly frustrated, is spelled phonetically. Another interesting letter that allowed for the subject listing to include "Leonid Meteor Showers" refers to one elderly woman's age was determined by the fact that she was 16 "the year the stars fell". The commissioner noted that that was in 1832, and he was there himself. The following year, '33, was the year that the Leonid shower was officially "discovered", and caused something of a panic in the eastern US; no one knew what meteors were, yet!

Several of the locations mentioned, such as Armstrong's Academy, Concharta, OK, and Doaksville, OK, were involved in the war, and both Union and Confederate soldiers are among those interviewed. Doaksville was the site where the last remaining Confederate general, a Cherokee, surrendered. Also mentioned is Tahlequah, OK, the capital of the Cherokee Nation and location of the racially-motivated Going Snake Massacre. Several historical figures come into the documents, namely two of the attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, James Davenport and W. W. Hastings (in all likelihood, William Wirt. referenced as "W. W. Hastings" in transcripts, but a William Wirt Hastings, of Cherokee heritage and from Oklahoma, was an attorney who worked in private practice, as the attorney general for the Cherokee Nation, and then as the national attorney for the Nation from 1907. The dates do match up, and there is a W. W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, given by William Wirt when he was in Congress, as a gift) both of whom later served as U.S. Representatives for Oklahoma. Briefly included is Judge Isaac Parker, known as "the hanging judge" of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Parker tried several well-known outlaws, including Crawford "Cherokee Bill" Goldsby. Occasionally the communities cited in the interviews have since become ghost towns, been absorbed into larger cities, or changed names.

The affidavits, correspondence, and any support materials are arranged in alphabetical order by the surname of the applicant. Note: File 22 is in critical need of preservation.

Dave Mellor Texas County Courthouse Research

  • TxAM-CRS 221
  • Collection
  • 1963-2003

This collection includes newspaper clippings, articles, magazines, and brochures about Texas courthouses; pictures and slides of Texas courthouses; calendars; and a video cassette.

Mellor, Dave

Hernan Contreras Papers

  • US TxAM-C 25
  • Collection
  • 1852-1993

This collection contains correspondence throughout the life of Hernan H. Contreras, both personal and professional, descriptions of his family home, a warranty deed on property owned by the Contreras family in Starr County, a map of these lots, photographs of family and coworkers in the U.S. Department of Immigration office in Starr County, an autograph book from his public school career, utility bills, receipts, junk mail, and oil and gas leases.

The collection also contains a multitude of papers from Mr. Contreras' wife's family, particularly those of her father, Casamiro Perez Alvares. The contents of these papers include oil and gas leases, utility bills, newspaper articles, correspondence with the U.S. Marshal's office in Galveston, subpoenas, arrest warrants, witness testimonies, receipts, government bulletins, poll tax receipts, land and city tax receipts, family photographs, marriage licenses, wedding invitations, funeral notices, personal letters, business letters, bank statements, checks, deposits, Christmas cards, a pamphlet on communism, a report card, ration sheets from World War I, Letters to the Editor of Newsweek magazine, articles on Estela Contreras' run for political office, and a picture of Estela Contreras from 1993. There is also a collection of reels accompanying all the paper items.

Contreras, Hernan, 1902-197?

Johnson County War Collection

  • TxAM-CRS 163
  • Collection
  • 1884-1893

This collection contains financial and legal documents related to the Johnson County War, also known as the War on Powder Creek, which was a range war between large cattle ranchers and small ranchers in Johnson County, Wyoming, in April 1892. The financial documents include a bill of sale written in compliance with the Maverick Law of 1884 and a promissory note. The legal documents were produced in connection with the criminal proceedings against the participants of the range war.

Johnson County War

Margaret Lips van Bavel Papers on Boonville

  • US TxAM-C 1286
  • Collection
  • 1937-1987

This collection contains the Boone and Bryan family history in a compilation of biographies, clippings, and photocopies from books and newspapers, and other topics on the history of Boonville, TX. Also included are land acre maps of the town of Boonville and several genealogies including the genealogy of the Harvey Mitchell family.

van Bavel, Margaretha H. M.

Santa Rosa Ranch Papers

  • TxAM-CRS 27
  • Collection
  • 1890-1910

This collection consists mainly of correspondence, legal documents, a corporate minute book, and handwritten notes recording the litigation connected with ownership of a large tract of land (89,000 acres) in Hidalgo country known as the "Big Santa Rosa Pasture". Actual litigation took place from 1903-1910.

Individuals involved in the case were: Dillard Rucker Fant and his wife, Lucy Fant; Daniel J. Sullivan; J. C. Sullivan; James V. Upson; Wiliam R. Elliott; Conrad A. Goeth; James Webb; J. M. Chittim; Archie Parr; Kate V. Elliott; G. G. Clifford; A. E. Chavez; J. A. Galligher; W. M. Sanford; Fred Kelly; F. A. McGown; F. W. Church; H. R. Wood; F. Groos and his wife, Hulda Groos. Legal counsel involved in the proceedings were: James E. Webb and Conrad A. Goeth of Webb and Goeth, F. A. McGown of Denman, Franklin & McGown, and R. L. Ball, all based in San Antonio, Texas.

At the onset of the difficulties, D. R. Fant had leased the Big Santa Rosa Pasture to the cattle-raising partnership of Chittim and Parr. J. M. Chittim was a large rancher in South Texas and Archie Parr, was a State Senator popularly known as the Duke of Duval. Based on the large annual rent monies Fant had expected to collect from Chittim and Parr, he then also borrowed money from D. Sullivan of D. Sullivan and Company Bankers (founders and owners of the large South Texas Mariposa Ranch) and, using the same collateral, borrowed more money from the competing F. Groos and Company Bankers (later a founder of Wells Fargo Bank).

When it appears, that Chittim and Parr defaulted on their rent payment for the Big Santa Rosa Pasture to Fant, Fant was then forced to default on his own payments to both banking organizations from whom he had borrowed funds. The bankers, in return, sued and foreclosed on the Big Santa Rosa Pasture.

Through the Santa Rosa Ranch Papers extensive set of legal documents, attorneys' memoranda, telegrams, letters, and financial disclosures, the most absorbing story of Texas land politics unfolds.

Notable among the papers is the Santa Rosa Ranch Minute Book, a ledger volume with handwritten entries detailing the Articles of Incorporation, By-laws and minutes of the first stockholders' meeting of the Santa Rosa Ranch Company. Also present is a manuscript plat map in black and red ink on light blue linen, of the 1905 Maria Rodriguez survey, which has been encapsulated and is housed separately in a Map Case Drawer.

Santa Rosa Ranch

W. R. Cavitt Journal

  • US TxAM-C 1200
  • Collection
  • 1878-1879

This collection consists of a bound journal belonging to William Richard Cavitt from the late 1800s describing his law practice and the Cavitt House in Bryan, TX. Also included is a typed transcript of the journal and notes on it.

Cavitt, Howard R.