Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Osterhout Family Papers, 1836-1941 MS 355

creator Osterhout family
Title: Osterhout Family Papers
Dates: 1836-1941, Bulk Dates 1851-1905
Dates: bulk
Abstract: Correspondence, drawings, maps, scrapbooks, pamphlets, newspapers, and other papers, of John Patterson Osterhout (1826-1903), relating to his early life in Pennsylvania, early impressions of Texas, work as a judge, service in the Confederate Army, and leader of the Republican Party in Texas, and of his son, Paul Osterhout (1859-1944), relating to his studies at Baylor University and University of Pennsylvania Dept. of Medicine, activities fighting yellow fever during the digging of the Panama Canal, and his career as a physician, planter, and consul in Colombia, Nicaragua, and Panama. Includes material concerning military service during the Texas Republic, Baptists in antebellum Texas, and other Osterhout family members.
Identification: MS 355
Quantity: 4 Linear Feet (9 boxes, 7 map folders)
Language: English
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical Notes

The Osterhout Family Collection begins with John Patterson Osterhout (1826-1903). John was born in Pennsylvania and completed his education as a lawyer while carrying out a teaching career in that state. In 1851, John moved to Bellville, Texas in Austin County. At first, he continued to be a teacher but, in the years up until his death, John held a number of different positions - lawyer, collecting agent, newspaper editor and owner, officer in the Confederate Army, railroad company president, judge, postmaster, rancher and a store owner. As well as these varied occupations, John was prominent in the Baptist church and Masonic communities and, later in his life, he was involved in state politics. In 1859(?), he made a brief return to Pennsylvania to marry Junia Roberts.

Junia (Roberts) Osterhout was born in Pennsylvania where she met and married John and came back to Texas with him in 1859(?). She was the mother of six children - Paul, Gertrude, John Jeremiah, Ora, Junia and another child that died in infancy - and helped raise them in Bellville and Belton, Texas. Junia died in 1897.

Paul Osterhout (1859-1944), the first child, was born and raised in Bellville and Belton, Texas. He graduated from Baylor College in Texas and Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania. After holding several odd jobs following graduation, Paul moved to Central America in 1888 where he began his professional career. He and his wife, May, lived in Nicaragua, Colombia and Panama where Paul tried his hand variously as a doctor, pharmacist, banana and rubber plantation owner and political consul. In the later stages of his career, Paul and May moved back to Texas and resided in San Antonio.

As for the rest of the family, Gertrude Osterhout, the second child, went to Baylor Female College where she had much success academically. She later went on to become a faculty member at Baylor University. John Jeremiah, who went by the name Jeremiah or Jere, moved to Central America to look for work and lived with his brother Paul. He later held a job as a postal clerk on the Santa Fe railroad. Ora Osterhout attended Baylor University and later married into the Wade Family. It is from Ora that this collection came to Rice University. The youngest Osterhout, Junia, had a career as a school teacher.

Scope and Contents

The Osterhout Family Papers detail the lives of John Patterson Osterhout and his family in Texas and in Central America during the latter half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. This collection primarily consists of the correspondence, professional records and personal effects of the Osterhout family.

The first series follows the personal life and professional career of John Osterhout from his schooldays and teaching career in Pennsylvania to his death in Belton, Texas in 1903. With respect to his personal correspondence, the collection holds many of the letters that John sent as well as those that he received; thus, it is increasingly easy to explore the day to day affairs and concerns of the man. Outside of the social value of these papers, John Osterhout's records hold a great deal of information on a variety of subjects such as the American Civil War, legal issues, state and national politics, Indian raids, slavery and the Texas Revolution.

The second series contains Paul Osterhout's personal and professional records. They chronicle his life from his academic career at Baylor College and the Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania, through his stay in Central America and his return to Texas. Paul's letters from school provide a good look at life in a boarding school and an out-of-town university. The records, especially the correspondence, from Nicaragua, Colombia and Panama detail a number of topics from running a plantation, to being an American in a foreign country, to combating yellow fever, to lengthy descriptions of the political changes and turmoil that Nicaragua and Colombia endured in the later 1800's and early 1900's.

Since the records of John and Paul Osterhout make up the bulk of the papers, they have been placed in their own series. The third series is dedicated to the other members of the Osterhout family and general family materials. The letters of Gertrude and Ora Osterhout, as well as Gertrude's journal, provide information on the daily affairs of the all female boarding school, Baylor Female College. The letters of Junia (Roberts) Osterhout generally are either to or from her siblings in other states. Jeremiah's correspondence is solely from his stay with his brother Paul in Nicaragua and sheds some more light on the political affairs of the country in 1894. The Wade family papers, which were added to the Osterhout family papers when Ora married into the Wade family, are dated from the 1860's and give more evidence on the American Civil War.

The Osterhout's were active Baptists and with their collection came a number of printed materials concerning the Baptist religion in Texas in the later half of the nineteenth century. Also included in this series are letters of standing for various individuals that moved to new Baptist communities. These letters give testimony to the good standing of the persons within their old church community.

The last series is made up of a number of architectural plans for houses that were designed by P. Herbert. It is assumed that they may be some of the homes that the Osterhouts resided in; however, as there is no information about these plans, it is difficult to be sure for whom these homes were designed. A few of the houses have their complete plans including the front and side exteriors, the various floors, the roofs and the foundation plans. Other houses are only partially complete.


Access Restrictions

This material is open for research. Some items have been digitized and are available online at: http://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/35293.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Osterhout Family - Papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Index Terms

Diplomatic and consular service, American
Universities and colleges
Medical colleges
Yellow fever
Baptists -- Texas
Political parties
United States
Panama -- Panama Canal
Family Names
Osterhout family

Related Material

See also The Bellville Countryman (also known as The Texas Countryman), John P. Osterhout's newspaper, for more information on Texas in the 1860's. These newspapers are in the Fondren Library at Rice University in microfilm and in their original form at the Woodson Research Center (Call Number AN2.H4 T4).

For further research into the Osterhout family history, contact the Osterhout Free Library in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

See also the collection of Austin College, Sherman, Texas.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Osterhout Family papers, 1836-1941, MS 355, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Acquisition Information

A majority of the papers were purchased by Rice University from Mrs. Ora Osterhout Wade in 1958 and a second group of records arrived in October 1962. The collection register of John P. Osterhout was added to the collection in October 1965 as a gift from Herbert Herrick Fletcher. And in November 1992, Harry Yeager donated the book "History of the Roberts Family" to add to the collection.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I. John Patterson Osterhout 1836-1904
19 linear inches (3.5 document boxes).

Scope and Contents note
This series is arranged in two sub-series--Personal Life and Professional Life. In the sub-series Professional Life, the Legal and Public Service Correspondence and the Legal Documents include some of the letters and records of Abram Frear, John Osterhout's legal partner. Some of the subjects exhibited in this series are the Civil War, state and national politics, slavery, and the Texas Revolution.
Subseries A: Personal Life
box folder
1 1 Bills, Receipts and Promissory Notes
2 Circulars and Public Announcements
3-12 Correspondence 1842-1873
box folder
2 1-6 Correspondence 1874-1904
7 Legal Documents 1857-1879
8 Masonic Activities
9 Newspaper Clippings
10 Phrenological Chart of John Osterhout
11 Schoolwork 1842-1847
12 Testimonials 1844-1851
13 Unidentified Original Compositions
14 Wyoming Seminary Annual Exhibition Programs 1845 and 1846
Subseries B: Professional Life
box folder
2 15 Bellville Town Meeting Minutes 1858
16 Belton Voting List 1876
17 Bills, Receipts and Promissory Notes of Clients
18 Certificates and Commissions
19 U.S. Civil War Documents
box folder
3 1 Collection Register 1857-1860
2 Correspondence, Civil War, (not by John Osterhout) 1861-1865
3 Correspondence, Countryman Newspaper 1860-1866
4-8 Correspondence, Legal and Public Service Career 1848-1889
9 Correspondence, Political Career 1876-1886
10 Correspondence, Railroad Company 1869
11 "Handbook of Songs and Rhymes" by J. P. Osterhout
12 Land Survey and Building Sketches
box folder
4 1-2 Legal Documents 1845-1876
3 Petitions for Reinstatement
4 Republic of Texas Veterans' Case, Correspondence 1836-1856
5-6 Republic of Texas Veterans' Case, Legal Documents 1836-1855
5 A List of Claims Against the late Republic of Texas, August 28, 1854
Statement from public notary on behalf of John C. White, Austin County, Texas, March 11, 1854
box folder
4 7 Republic of Texas Veterans' Case, Muster Rolls
List of those who fell in the Alamo, March 6, 1836
Captain Allen's Co., "Galveston Invincibles," Republic of Texas, mustered into the service for six months, 1842
List of participants in the Battle of San Jacinto, Texas
box folder
4 8 Speeches and Compositions
9 Teaching Contract 1852
10 Unused Court Forms

Series II. Paul Osterhout 1881-1939
11.5 linear inches. (2.5 document boxes).

Scope and Contents note
This series has two sub-series--Personal Life and Professional Life. May Osterhout's personal correspondence has been kept among Paul's correspondence because it is addressed primarily to Paul's family and are written in part on Paul's behalf. Topics in this series include education, the Yellow Fever Epidemics in Central America, World War I, rubber and banana plantations, the overthrow of the Nicaraguan government in 1894, the Nicaraguan-American Conflict in Mosquito Reservation 1894-1895 and the War of a Thousand Days in Colombia 1899-1902.
Subseries A: Personal Life
box folder
4 11 Anti-German War Propaganda 1917
12 Baylor Female College Cornerstone Ceremony Program 1907
13 Bills and Receipts 1903-1911
14 Class List of 1887
15-19 Correspondence 1881-1888
box folder
5 1-10 Correspondence 1889-1897
box folder
6 1-6 Correspondence 1898-1939
7 Essay, "Facts Concerning the Cause of the War of 1812" by Woodrow Wilson
8 Invitations and Benefits
9 Maps and Sketches
10 Newspaper Clippings
11 Photograph
12 Power of Attorney Statement by Paul Osterhout
13 Reward Statement
14 Unused Postcards
Subseries B: Professional Life
box folder
6 15 Advertisement of Plow Manufacturer
16 American Medical Directory Information Sheet 1905
17 Annual Efficiency Report on Consular Subordinates 1917
Information Slip completed by Paul Osterhout for Panama Canal Zone Health Department, 1917
Information slip, including employment history, of Paul Osterhout, for Isthmian Canal Commission, Canal Zone, Isthmus of Panama, March 29, 1911
Annual Efficiency Report on Consular Subordinates
box folder
6 18 Applications
Job applicant recommendation by Paul Osterhout, M.D., Bocas del Toro, Panama, for candidate Minor C. Wilson
box folder
6 19 Booklet, "A Simple Method of Identifying the Anopheles Mosquitoes of the Canal Zone" 1918
20 Clinical Charts 1905-1908
Graphic Clinical Chart for W.B. Dunn, 1905, regarding yellow fever in Panama Canal area
Graphic Clinical Chart for Vaughan Philpott, yellow fever victim, February 15, 1906
Clinical Chart of Temperature, Pulse and Respiration for Elias Nielson, August 26, 1905
box folder
6 21 Correspondence, Professional 1904-1918
Letter from Paul Osterhout to the Surgeon General, Washington, D.C. regarding the fourth Yellow Fever victim in the Panama Canal area, October 2, 1905
Letter from Paul Osterhout to the Surgeon General, Washington, D.C. regarding another case of Yellow Fever in the Bocas del Toro, Panama, port, October 6, 1905
Letter from Paul Osterhout, Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Public Health and Marines-Hospital Service, at Bocas del Toro, Panama, to the Surgeon-General, U.S. Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service, Washington, D.C regarding the second Yellow Fever case in the Panamanian port.
Letter from Paul Osterhout, Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Public Health and Marines-Hospital Service, at Bocas del Toro, Panama, to the Surgeon-General, U.S. Public Health and Marine Hospital Services, Washington, D.C regarding information about the second Yellow Fever case in the Panama area, August 23, 1905
Letter from Paul Osterhout, Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Public Health and Marines-Hospital Service, at Bocas del Toro, Panama, to the Surgeon-General, U.S. Public Health and Marine-Hospital Service, Washington, D.C regarding the first Yellow Fever case in the Panamanian port, August 16, 1905
Letters to and from Dr. Paul Osterhout from Hon. Albert S. Burleson, Congressman from Austin, Texas
Letter from S.G. Schermerhorn, manager of the United Fruit Company, Bocas Division, to Dr. Paul Osterhout, regarding solutions for Yellow Fever, March 7, 1906
Letters to and from Dr. Paul Osterhout from Hon. Albert S. Burleson, Congressman from Austin, Texas, December 12, 1908, January 21, 1909, February 18, 1909, January 20, 1909
Letter from R.E. Swigert to Dr. Paul Osterhout regarding N.G. Ward and another patient, suffering from Yellow Fever in the Panama area, October 1, 1905
Letter from O.F. Cook, Bionomist in Charge, Bureau of Plant Industry, and C.L. Marlatt, Acting Chief of Bureau, to Dr. Paul Osterhout, regarding Yellow Fever research
Letter from Paul Osterhout to Surgeon J.H. White, regarding Yellow Fever during the quarantine season of 1905 in Panama Canal area
Letter from William Colby Rucker, Assistant Surgeon, Public Health and Marine Hospital Service, to Acting Assistant Surgeon Paul Osterhout, January 17, 1907
box folder
7 1 Employee Work Records 1909-1913
Letter to Dr. Osterhout from Theo Gambee, October 14, 1909
Letter to Dr. Osterhout from Theo Gambee, September 7, 1919
box folder
7 2 Professional Career of Dr. Isaac McLean
3 Quarantine History of the Nor. S.S. Belvernon 1905
4 Yellow Fever Victim List 1900-1906

Series III. Osterhout Family 1849-1941
10 inches. (2 document boxes).

Scope and Contents note
Consisting of the correspondence and personal effects of the remaining members of the Osterhout family, this series has been divided into two sub-series - Correspondence and Subject Files. The folder noted as Miscellaneous Correspondence holds the letters that are not from or addressed to any of the members of John Osterhout's family in Texas and are in chronological order. The personal effects of the Wade and Bouldin families come from the family that Ora Osterhout married into. This series deals with subjects such as education, the Civil War, state and national politics and the Nicaraguan-American Conflict 1894-1895.
Subseries A: Correspondence
box folder
7 5 Miscellaneous 1849-1918
6-9 Osterhout, Gertrude 1880-1920
10 Osterhout, Jeremiah 1894
11 Osterhout, Junia 1904-1922
12 Osterhout, Junia (Roberts) 1859-1897
13 Osterhout, Ora 1886-1941
14 Wade Family 1865-1868
box folder
8 1 Wade Family c. 1860's-1891
Subseries B: Subject Files
box folder
8 2 "Address of Judge Peter W. Gray to the Citizens of Houston on the African Slave Trade" May 30, 1859
3 Baylor College Record 1902
4 Civil War Documents of Captain H. M. Bouldin
5 Envelopes without Letters
6 History of the Roberts Family 1927
7 Invitation to the Inauguration of James Ferguson - Governor of Texas 1915
8 Journal of Gertrude Osterhout
9 Newspapers
10 Personal Memorabilia of Junia Osterhout
11 Photographs and Sketches
12 Scrap Book (Bouldin Family)
box folder
9 1 Shipping Invoice January 15, 1868
2 Speeches and Poems

Series IV. The Baptist Church in Texas 1849-1883
3 inches (.5 document box).

Scope and Contents note
This series provides information on the Baptist Church in the state of Texas in the nineteenth century. Most of the records are minutes, pamphlets and newspapers that circulated throughout Texas. These records were separated from the other family materials upon their arrival at Rice University and have been maintained in this order.
box folder
9 3 Baptist State Convention of Texas' Annual Meeting Minutes 1857-1859; 1861-1867; 1883
4 Letters of Standing 1849-1860
5 Pamphlets
6 Texas Baptist and Herald Newspapers
7 Union Baptist Association Annual Meeting Minutes 1856-1859; 1864-1866; 1869

Series V. Architectural Plans undated
(7 map folders)

Scope and Contents note
These plans were drawn by P. Herbert. Sets of plans are separated into individual homes.
1 House 1
2 House 2
3 House 3
4 House 4
5 House 5
6 House 6
7 House 7