Hart Family Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
The Harts are an Austin family whose involvement in Travis County politics and civic life has spanned over five generations. Their contributions included public service in official capacities ranging from the academic realm, local arts and culture, litigation, and local government. Additionally, the Harts were active philanthropists and were involved on a volunteer/member basis in many local clubs and organizations including the American Red Cross, Daughters of the American Revolution, March of Dimes, Texas Fine Arts Association, Historic Landmarks Commission, Austin Heritage Society, and the Texas State Historical Association.
The patriarch of the Hart family was Captain James Pinckney Hart (1848-1914), who migrated to Texas in 1865 from Gallatin, Tennessee. Although there are conflicting accounts of the precise dates of his early life and events, it is known that he served as deputy postmaster in Austin for several years, and in 1870 married Mary Elizabeth "Mollie" Peck (1846-1943). After a short period working in the mercantile business, Hart was appointed a deputy clerk of the Supreme Court of the state of Texas under the Hon. William DeNormandie. He remained in this position until 1878, whereupon he was appointed deputy clerk in the District Court of Travis County, serving under E. Hallman. Hart succeeded Hallman in this capacity, serving as District Clerk for twenty-six years before retiring from office on December 1st, 1906. Subsequently, Captain Hart served two terms as the first Commissioner of Police, Fire, Health and Public Safety in Austin. In 1913 he was appointed State Statistical Agent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving for one year. In an effort to improve his health, Captain Hart had been living and farming his home several miles southeast of Austin on the Colorado River when he died of acute indigestion in 1914. In addition to his public service, Captain Hart was a Mason, a Shriner, a Knight Templar, a member of the Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows and Woodmen of the World. He was survived by his wife, Mollie, his son James Hill Hart and his wife, Nannie Strother Furman Hart, and his other son, William de Normandie Hart and his wife, Carrie Meriwether Hart.
Carrie Dunlop Meriwether (1875-1964) married Captain James Pinckney Hart's son William de Normandie Hart (1872-1951). She spent her early life on her father's plantation in Grapeland, East Texas. She was raised by her grandmother after her mother suffered a fatal accident, and was eventually brought to Austin to live with her aunt and uncle, who headed the Blind Institute. As an adult, she married Judge William de Normandie Hart and remained in Austin for over 80 years and was a member of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Her husband, William, practiced law in Austin, and in later years had a law practice with his brother James Hill Hart.
Captain Hart's son, James Hill Hart (1878-1968), had a career as an Austin litigator. He earned undergraduate and law degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, and was granted license to practice law in 1901, after which he practiced law for sixty-seven years in Austin. From 1929 to 1947 Hart served with the State Board of Law Examiners; additionally, he was a member of the Travis County Draft Board from 1933 to 1967. Hart served as president of the Travis County Bar Association, the Town and Gown Club, and in 1919 was elected to be the first president of the Austin Kiwanis Club. Hart was also noted for his distinguished football career during his tenure at the University of Texas at Austin; having served as the captain of the 1899 football team and having lettered on the 1897-1900 football squads, he was later inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor. His lifelong enthusiasm for Texas athletics was evidenced by both his purchase of Longhorn baseball park Clark Field in 1924 and his twenty-five year participation as an alumni member on the University of Texas Athletic Council. James Hill Hart was an avid hunter and was well known for his fondness for walking, making his daily trip to and from work on foot.
James Hill Hart's wife, Nancy "Nannie" Strother Furman Hart (1878-1963), spent her childhood in Belton, Texas. She lived in Austin for sixty-two years and was an active participant in many social, civic and church-related activities such as the Presbyterian Church, Pathfinders Club, Daughters of the American Revolution, Austin Woman's Club, and Colonial Dames. Nannie died in 1963 at the age of 84.
Helen Furman Hart Jagou (1906-1999) was the daughter of James Hill Hart and Nannie Strother Furman. She received her Master's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She married Charles Chester Jagou, Sr. (1904-1973).
James Pinckney Hart (1904-1987), son of James Hill Hart and Nancy "Nannie" Strother Furman, led a distinguished, multifaceted career that included high-ranking positions in the Texas government, and service as the first Chancellor of The University of Texas System. After graduating from Austin High School he started at The University of Texas, majoring in History. He completed his degree in 1925, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He went on to study law at Harvard Law School, served on the Harvard Law Review, and graduated with honors in 1928. After graduation he returned to Austin to practice law in a private practice. James Pinckney Hart was elected to two terms as District Attorney of Travis County, serving from 1933 to 1937. In 1938, he served as special district judge and then spent two years as the assistant Attorney General of the oil and gas division of Travis County (1939-1941.) Governor Buford Jester appointed Hart to Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1947. Following this, in 1948, Hart successfully ran for a six year term on the Texas Supreme Court, but after serving only three years Hart resigned to accept the position as first Chancellor of The University of Texas system, a title he held from 1950 to 1953. After retiring, James Pinckney Hart entered a private law practice and was eventually joined by son Joseph. Hart last sought office in 1957 in an unsuccessful bid for senator. James Pinckney Hart died on May 18, 1987, at the age of 82. As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Hart's notable opinions included an early recognition of the rights of married women in Texas, particularly in the case of Worden v. Worden, 148 Texas reports 356 (1949). He was furthermore heavily involved in farmers' rights, labor unions and the right to protest.
James Pinckney Hart's wife, Katherine Drake Hart (1905-2000) was born in 1905 to Maggie Myrick Drake and William Sherman Drake (who co-founded Calcasieu lumber company in 1883). Katherine attended The University of Texas at Austin and Wellesley College, graduating in 1926 with a triple major in English Literature, Composition and French. Katherine would later go on to serve a six year term as a trustee for Wellesley College. Katherine, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, won a scholarship to study abroad in Lyon, France for one year. She received her M.A. in French literature from Columbia University in 1927 and completed her doctorate in French literature in 1955, after 21 years of study. Between the years of 1965-1975 she helped found and served as director of the Austin Travis County Collection, now the Austin History Center.
Katherine Drake Hart's many accomplishments and activities reflect her dedication to education, civic life, and historical preservation. In addition to serving on the boards of numerous historical preservation societies, she was a member of the Austin Public Schools Board of Trustees, the Texas State School Board, the Planned Parenthood Board, president of the Heritage Society of Austin, and was a special feature writer for the Austin-American Statesman. Katherine was instrumental in the preservation of numerous historical Austin landmarks, including the Littlefield Home, and during her time as a member of the school board in the mid-1950's introduced the motion to integrate Austin public schools. Katherine's activism was acknowledged in 1956, when Governor Pierce Daniel appointed her to the State Board of Education. Katherine Hart died in her Austin home in 2000.
Thomas Maxey Hart, the son of Doc Hill Hart Sr., (the brother of James Pinckney Hart) and his wife, Derie Smith Hart, was the nephew of Captain James Pinckney Hart. No exact dates have been established for his birth and death, but documents in the collection confirm that he was enlisted in World War I and fought overseas. Later, Thomas was a clerk of the United States Court for the Western District of Texas, having succeeded his father whom had worked in the same capacity for fifty years. Thomas served as clerk for thirty-one years (1937-1968).
Sources: Information found in the Austin History Center AF Biography Text-Hart, James Pinckney.
The collection documents four generations of the Hart family, dating from 1794-1984. The bulk of the collection concerns the lives and activities of patriarch Captain James Pinckney Hart (1848-1914), his son James Hill Hart (1878-1968), and James Hill Hart's son James Pinckney Hart (1904-1987). There is also a substantial amount of material belonging to Katherine Drake Hart (1905-2000), the wife of James Pinckney Hart. The collection also includes documents and personal papers relating to the extended Hart family. The material includes marriage certificates, certificates of birth, death notices, family photographs and photo albums, scrapbooks, awards and diplomas, newspaper clippings, correspondence, financial documents, legal documents, campaign materials relating to the 1957 senate campaign of James Pinckney Hart, ephemera, and a family bible. Additionally, the collection includes the date books of James Pinckney Hart, with detailed daily entries of his activities and appointments from 1930 to 1984.
The papers of James Pinckney Hart (1848-1914) primarily concern Hart's legal work and personal business transactions. Included are legal files, land deeds, and contracts relating to casework covering financial, real estate, and guardianship suits. Furthermore this series contains the official records and correspondence regarding the personal land transactions and real estate sales made by Hart himself.
There are a comparatively small number of documents in the collection pertaining to Mary Elizabeth Hart (1846-1943), Derie Smith Hart (sister-in-law of James Pinckney Hart) and Thomas Maxey Hart (son of Derie Hart). Mary Elizabeth Hart's series contains material relating to the purchase and sale of land; Derie Smith Hart's consists of a number of personal correspondences between the years of 1880 and 1883, and Thomas Maxey Hart's series includes a number of letters written by Hart while stationed overseas during World War I (dated 1918-1919).
Carrie Meriweather and William de Normandie Hart's (1888-1966) series primarily documents the settling of Carrie's estate after her death in 1964. There is a considerable amount of correspondence between her brother-in-law, James Hill Hart and various insurance and investment companies, as well as copies of Hart's will and probate. Additionally, there is a thank-you letter from Hart's daughter to James Hill Hart regarding the handling of her mother's estate. In addition there is professional correspondence from William D. Hart's law office and City of Austin tax statements.
James Hill Hart's (1878-1968) papers present a multifaceted perspective of a prolific writer, litigator and outdoor enthusiast. Hart's writings include historical accounts and biographies, opinion pieces on the subject of the legal profession and athletics, as well as dedications, memorials and eulogies. In addition to Hart's writings, there are accounts and official documents pertaining to Hart's legal practice and cases. Hart's involvement with The University of Texas' football team is represented by a number of writings, correspondence and clippings. A substantial amount of materials document Hart's extracurricular clubs and organizations, including the Masons and the Scottish Rite Temple. His love of hunting and fishing is documented in written accounts and detailed logs of his yearly hunting trip. Hart's personal correspondence is included in the collection, with the bulk of the letters relating to his son James Pinckney Hart's 1957 campaign for U.S. Senator. The collection also includes war ration books from World War II, personal tax and financial records, and a number of certificates from the many organizations and institutions of which Hart was an active member.
Nancy "Nannie" Strother Furman Hart (1878-1963), wife of James Hill Hart, was active in many clubs and historical organizations and this aspect of her life is documented through official certificates and notices, and correspondence. Hart's interest in and research documenting her ancestry (for the purposes of joining clubs such as the Daughters of the American Revolution), is recorded in both her papers and the historical and family photographs contained within the collection. Hart's war ration booklets and a number of documents relating to her death and estate are also present.
The papers of Helen Furman Hart Jagou (1906-1999), the daughter of James Hill Hart, contain personal memorabilia relating to her early education and college years. Jagou traveled around Europe in 1927-1928 and lived for a time in Mexico; both events are documented in the photographs, personal correspondence, and ephemeral mementos she kept of the time. Jagou's papers also document the lifelong correspondence she kept with her father, James Hill Hart. This series also contains her war ration booklets from World War II.
James Pinckney Hart's (1904-1987) papers constitute the largest series of the collection. The various professional phases of Hart's life are well represented, from his education at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University to his later life in politics and government. Hart's campaigns for District Attorney and Justice of the Supreme Court are represented by newspaper clippings, correspondence and notes, and his tenure in each of these positions are described in correspondence, writings and memorabilia. Hart's service as the first Chancellor of The University of Texas system is documented in correspondence, newspaper clippings, certificates and programs of official events. The largest portion of Hart's papers consist of documents relating to his unsuccessful 1957 bid for U.S. Senator. These documents include speeches, correspondence, magazine, radio, television and newspaper advertisements, in addition to detailed financial accounts and lists of contributors to the campaign. Personal memos and itineraries are also contained within this collection, in addition to publications regarding the labor rights of Mexican immigrants (an issue in which Hart expressed interest as a platform for his campaign). Hart's papers also contain a series of four scrapbooks consisting of newspaper clippings that extensively document Hart's senatorial campaign through the years 1956-1957. Only one document exists regarding Hart's later career as a lawyer in the law firm of his father, James Hill Hart.
James Pinckney Hart's personal and family life is chiefly represented in the papers of his wife, Katherine Drake Hart. However, his papers do include Hart's personal correspondence and documents relating to clubs and organizations of which he was a part, and an extensive collection of his date books (1930-1984), in which Hart documented his daily activities, appointments and reflections.
James Pinckney Hart's wife, Katherine Drake Hart (1905-2000), was an individual whose work and activism won her numerous accolades and honors in the city of Austin. Her papers include personal mementos of her early life and education at Wellesley College and the University of Texas at Austin. A number of personal letters and cards (including James Pinckney Hart's first request to escort her on a date) are contained within her personal papers. Katherine Drake Hart's election to the Austin Public Schools Board of Trustees is documented primarily through correspondence; however, her myriad efforts in the education and preservation of Austin's history are documented in both correspondence, personal articles and speeches written for various publications and events, extensive newspaper and magazine clippings regarding her achievements, and the multiple honors, certificates and awards she was given for her involvement as an historian and activist. Hart was also active in a number of other clubs and charitable organizations in Austin (such as the Red Cross); her membership cards are contained within her papers. Hart's general papers reflect the scope of her career as a whole and include newspaper clippings, correspondence (both personal and relating to her career achievements) and ephemera concerning her retirement. An original ink portrait of Hart is contained within the collection.
In addition to the materials relating to the lives, careers and activities of each family member listed above, there is a series of photographs relating to members of the Hart family, which has been listed under Family Photographs (1893-1968, undated). The majority of the photographs are portraits and family group photographs documenting the lives of Mollie and James Pinckney Hart, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The photographs have been loosely organized by each segment of the family but there is large amount of overlap from group to group.
Restrictions on Access
Open to all users.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
The Hart collection was donated in multiple installments. The first donation was gifted to the Austin History Center (then called the Austin Travis County Collection) in 1968 after the death of James Hill Hart. Succeeding sets of donations were made by Joe and Kay Hart between April 2001 and June 2009.
Hart Family Papers (AR.H.008). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #s: DO/1971/000; DO/1995/006; DO/2001/059
Donation Date: 1968 May 2001, February 2005, July 2005, June 2006, June 2009
Final Processing and Finding Aid by Lauren Dest, Bailey Cain and Lilly Carrel, November 2013. Materials added and finding aid updated April 2014.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.