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Archival Descriptions
Texas A&M University, Libraries, Cushing Memorial Library & Archives
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Andrew Douglas Jackson Collection

  • US TxAM-C 1219
  • Collection
  • 1917-1945; Undated

This collection includes photos, legislative bills, charts, minutes, newspaper clippings, and correspondence concerning his agricultural research in farming irrigation and flooding in the Brazos River. Highlights of the collection include information, minutes, charts regarding the Texas Legislative bill titled "The Brazos Reclamation and Conservation District" created in 1929 by the 39th Legislator of Texas.

Jackson, Andrew Douglas

Cherokee Freedman Collection

  • US TxAM-C C000304
  • Collection
  • 1900-1907

The Cherokee Freedmen Collection housed at Cushing Memorial Library and Archive is composed of written interviews of African Americans and Native Americans conducted by the United States Department of the Interior’s Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes. The Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes also became known as the Dawes Commission, after its chairman Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts. The interviews, testimonies, and affidavits relate to the applications of African Americans that were denied enrollment as Cherokee Freedmen during the Dawes Commission. The collection encompasses over 500 documents from 30 different applications affecting over 100 people. Most of the documents are filed with their original envelopes. The documents in the Cherokee Freedmen Collection are dated from 1900 to 1907. Most of the hearings were conducted at Fort Gibson or Muskogee, Oklahoma. There is a high degree of intertextuality between the files regarding 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. All of the applications that are contained within the Cherokee Freedmen Collection housed at Cushing Library were rejected, denying the applicants citizenship to the Cherokee Nation.

In 1866, each of the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles) that had sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War entered treaties with the United States to abolish slavery in the Native American Territory and established provisions that addressed the status and rights of the freed slaves and people of African descent that lived among the Five Tribes. Since the Cherokee Nation sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War, the United States’ punishment for the Cherokee Nation was to give “all the rights of a native Cherokee” to all freed slaves who still lived within the Cherokee Nation.

In 1877, the Dawes Act (also called the General Allotment Act) was passed under President Grover Cleveland, allowing the federal government to break up tribal land to try to force Native Americans to assimilate. The federal government took the 150 million acres of land that was already controlled by the tribes. The commission's mission was to divide tribal land into 160-acre 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. Once the land was divided amongst the citizens of the Native American Nations, the United States government sold the surplus tribal lands to non-Native Americans for a profit.

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. Many of the applicants in the collection are related to one another. For example, Henry Albert is the son of Martha Albert, who was a freed slave of the Cherokee Nation. Henry Albert was over the age of 21, he had to apply to be enrolled as a Cherokee Freedmen for himself and his children. Since Henry was born free, most of the information contained within the file is based on his mother, Martha Albert’s testimony, and other witnesses who testified on her behalf or on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. The investigation on whether Martha Albert was truly a freed slave of the Cherokee Nation or not determined whether or not her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews would also be eligible to be enrolled as Cherokee Freedmen. The files of Henry Albert, Barnes Family, and Lula Knalls all contain copies of Martha Albert’s testimonies. Another interesting letter that allowed for the subject listing to include "Leonid Meteor Showers" refers to one elderly woman's age which 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 were Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Fort Smith, Arkansas. As well as Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation, and Goingsnake District, now Adair County, Oklahoma, which was the location of the Goingsnake Massacre. Occasionally the communities cited in the interviews have since become ghost towns, been absorbed into larger cities, or changed names. Many of the testimonies also included interviews with both Confederate and Union soldiers.

A few historical figures were involved in the Cherokee Freedmen trials. Namely, Ethan Allen Hitchcock served as the United States Secretary of the Interior under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt from 1899 to 1907. Also, 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.

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.

United States. Department of the Interior.

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?

Kyle Field Stadium Bonds

  • US TxAM-C C000038
  • Collection

Copies of documents pertaining to bonds issued for Kyle Field in 1929.

Slavery and Emancipation Documents

  • US TxAM-C C000006
  • Collection
  • 1737-1875

This collection contains 58 items are related to slavery or emancipation in the states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Texas and the countries of Cuba, the Caribbean, Jamaica, and Paris, France.

The descriptive write-up provided by Respess and William Reese, Company is used in the listing of documents. Each document purchased has a title, date, and some have an abbreviated transcription of the text.

The Texas document recounts the hiring, auctions, renting, and transferring ownership of slaves. The Missouri documents concern the purchase and transferring of ownership of slaves named Nancy, George, Phebe, Washington, Lucinda, Madison, Benjamin, and Sarah. No last names or additional information is provided except that Nancy is a Mulatto Woman and George is "of the age of seventeen or thereabouts." Of particular note are two documents, a Texas free woman of color filing a complaint regarding an illegal beating by a group of five men one and the other document is from Missouri and details a sale of slaves by a woman, a rarer document than those recording sales by men.

William Wallace Burns Papers

  • US TxAM-C C000023
  • Collection
  • 1848-1910

This collection consists mainly of correspondence (1858-1888) in which Brigadier General William Wallace Burns, of the United States Army, gives detailed accounts of Civil War battles fought during the Peninsular Campaign (March-August 1862), particularly the Seven Days Battles (June 25 - July 1, 1862 ), including Peach Orchard, Allen's Farm, Savage Station, Glendale, Nelson's Farm, and Malvern Hill. Burns discusses topics such as military strategy, troop movements, military surgeons, weather conditions during battles, building pontoon bridges, building defense works and, and capturing Confederate works. One letter is present from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).

Also included is personal correspondence with high-ranking officials such as President Abraham Lincoln, U. S. Secretary of War Charles Stanton, General Henry W. Halleck, General Winfield Scott Hancock, General George McClellan, General William Starke Rosecrans, and Major General Edwin Vose Sumner, as well as Emil Schalk who was a war journalist. The latter correspondence concerns political viewpoints on the causes of the war, primarily slavery, as well as the conduct and outcome of the war.

Some correspondence (1888-1904) was written just before and after Burns' death among family members, notably his grandchildren Lloyd Burns Magruder, who was a cadet at the United States Military Academy, and Pauline Magruder, as well as William Wallace Burns' sister Mabelle Burns, usually called "Mab." A substantial group of letters to Mabelle Burns is from her suitor for marriage, B. L. Prince. A few of the family letters from Pauline Magruder to her Aunt Mabelle Burns are written in French from Paris, France.

Also present is a substantial group of copies of military orders and official reports focused on Burns' thwarted ambitions to become Major General, and lead a Division in the Army of the Cumberland under the command of General Rosecrans. Apparently Burns believed political maneuverings of high governmental officials obstructed his promotion to Major General and precipitated his resignation as Brigadier General in 1863.

A few financial records and documents from legal proceedings are included concerning disputed rights to the "Sibley Tent," an invention whose patent royalties were eventually shared by Burns with Henry Hastings Sibley. Also present are a few documents concerning Texas real estate transactions.

Burns, William Wallace, 1825-1892