Guide to the Shannon-Scott family of Texas papers, 1848-1942, bulk dates 1875-1906
Alexander May Shannon (1839-1906), scout and cavalryman under Confederate generals John Bell Hood, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Wade Hampton and Joseph Wheeler, and prominent Galveston, TX businessman, son of Granville B. and Unity (Williams) Shannon, was born in Arkansas on May 7, 1839. His family settled in Johnson County, TX, when he was 14, and later in Gonzalez County, TX, where he began teaching in 1859. When Texas seceded from the Union, Shannon raised a company and joined Sibley's brigade. He transferred into the Eighth Texas Cavalry--Terry's Texas Rangers—and took part in all of the regiment's engagements. He became a captain circa 1863. His reputation for bravery led to scouting behind Sherman's lines in the Atlanta campaign with a cavalry unit known as "Shannon's Scouts." The scouts followed the Union army across Georgia, making raids on Sherman's units and conducting reconnaissance missions, locating approach routes, and relaying military intelligence back to Confederate forces. Shannon was later put in charge of the secret service of the Army of Tennessee and promoted to colonel in 1865. He was charged with escorting President Jefferson Davis to safety following the fall of Richmond in April 1865, but Davis was captured before Shannon could come to his aid.
After the war Shannon returned to his ranch on the San Antonio River in Karnes County and soon entered the insurance business with John B. Hood in New Orleans in 1869. When the business prospered, he moved to Galveston to take charge of the Texas branch. There he met and married Clara Viola Scott, daughter of Major William Bibb and Bettie (Murphy) Scott, on Feb. 21, 1872. She was the granddaughter of General John B. Scott, co-founder of Montgomery, AL, and John H. Murphy, third governor of Alabama. They had seven children.
In 1880 Shannon was engaged in government contract work building jetties and other public works, and also had a line of tugs and barges. In 1886 he issued a proposal to build a Galveston seawall. In 1890 he became general manager of the Galveston and Western Railway; in 1891 he chartered the Galveston Jetty Railroad; in 1893 he became Postmaster of Galveston. He died on Oct. 26, 1906 in Galveston and is buried in the Episcopal Cemetery.
Excerpted from The New Handbook of Texas, 1996
The collection, consisting of photocopies of letters, genealogies, military documents, newspaper clippings, and modern reproductions of family photographs, pertains to the families of Alexander May Shannon and William B. Scott, Shannon's father in-law. The Shannon Family correspondence includes all periods of Shannon's life, including , his insurance business, and letters about Galveston harbor. The Scott Family correspondence includes letters to Bettie Scott (Shannon's mother-in-law) from non-relatives and her husband, as well as letters to other members of the family. Highlights of the collection are a number of letters written by Shannon and Scott regarding U.S. Civil War battles (including the battle at Galveston) and daily life and living conditions in the army.
The collection consists of photocopies of the original letters, documents and photographs still in the possession of the donor(s). There are some typed transcripts of letters. There is a handwritten inventory describing the contents of the more interesting letters located in the control folder, Woodson Research Center. Some of the photocopies are difficult to read due to the poor copy quality.
This material is open for research.
Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Shannon-Scott family of Texas papers, 1848-1942, MS 250, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
The papers were a gift of John S. Matthew (great-grandson of Shannon) and Michael Shannon, February 1977.
Detailed Description of the Collection