Samuel Erson Asbury Papers

Identity elements

Reference code


Name and location of repository

Level of description



Samuel Erson Asbury Papers


  • 1872-1960 (Creation)


8.00 Boxes

Name of creator


Biographical history

Samuel Erson Asbury was born in Charlotte, NC on September 26, 1872, the son of Felicia Swan (Woodward) and Sidney Monroe Asbury. Asbury spent his childhood traveling with his family from Charlotte to Lincolnton, to Morganton, NC while his father attempted to establish a successful business.

In the fall of 1889, Asbury enrolled in North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College in Raleigh after first promising his father that he would put his seven brothers and sisters through college also. As a member of the first graduating class at North Carolina A&M College, Samuel Asbury received his B.S. in chemistry in 1893. He was then employed as an instructor at the college while he worked on his M.S., which he received in 1896.

Between 1895 and 1904, Asbury worked alternately with the North Carolina Experiment Station, the State Chemist's office in Richmond, VA, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and the State Chemist of Tennessee. On November 1, 1904, he accepted a position as Assistant State Chemist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station on the campus of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. From 1905 to 1915 his work required him to travel throughout East Texas as a fertilizer inspector for Dr. G.S. Frap, the State Chemist. Asbury made the most of the situation by spending his spare time getting acquainted with the local old-timers, many of whom were participants in the Texas Revolution, Civil War and/or the Reconstruction. He spent the remainder of his career with the experiment station employed in the analysis of fertilizer and feed until his retirement in 1945.

Outside of his work as a chemist, Samuel is known primarily as an authority on Texas history. Asbury considered himself "a hunter and not a writer," and as such became renowned for looking up little known documents, such as those concerning Jonas Harrison, John A. Williams, and the journal of Juan Nepomuceno Almonte. Asbury's chief historical interest lay in the Texas Revolution, and he spent much of his time writing an opera, or musical-drama review to illustrate it.

Samuel Asbury was also interested in all facets of the Arts. He had extensive scientific, literary, and music libraries, and, although deaf, he also had four Steinway pianos in his living room. All available wall space in his house was covered with framed reproductions of the Masters. He shared his interest with students and townspeople by encouraging them to attend poetry readings, music recitals, and similar functions held at his house.

Another of Asbury's passions was his roses. By experimenting with various strains of roses and kinds of fertilizers, he soon had roses growing on trellises 40 feet high, hiding his house from view. Asbury also did extensive research on the history of Texas roses.

Samuel Asbury died on January 10, 1960, at the age of 89 in Bryan, TX.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The Samuel Erson Asbury Papers consist of research materials, correspondence, mainly original contemporary letters and copies of the older historical correspondence, Asbury's writings and copies of state and national documents, held in eight boxes and one map case drawer occupying approximately twelve linear feet of shelf space. Asbury's broad range of interests is reflected in the variety of topics contained in these papers. Foremost among them are the files of correspondence, historical documents, articles and research notes concerning various aspects of Texas history.

Also included in the Asbury papers are articles, short stories, essays, plays, poetry, and a Texas Revolution opera written by Asbury; research notes and correspondence on the cultivation of roses and the growing of plants without soil; articles written about Asbury; correspondence with family members; general correspondence; and photographs of Asbury, his family and friends, and North Carolina A & M College.

System of arrangement

This collection is organized into the following Series:

  • Series 1. U. S. Census Information and Analysis, 1700-1948
  • Series 2. Texas Revolution Opera
  • Series 3. Texas History - Research Materials on the Revolution and the Republic, the 1830s-1940s
  • Series 4. Miscellaneous Writings by Asbury
  • Series 5. Family Correspondence, 1915-1959; Undated
  • Series 6. General Correspondence, 1907-1960; Undated
  • Series 7. Photographs
  • Series 8. Goliad Files
  • Series 9. Texas Soil Surveys

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Physical access

These materials are stored offsite and require additional time for retrieval.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Dr. Asbury's Estate


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places