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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Collection Summary

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Contents

Restrictions

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Letters and narrative accounts

Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Thomson family of Texas papers, 1832-1898



Collection Summary

Creator: Thomson family
Title: Thomson family of Texas papers
Dates: 1832-1898
Abstract: This collection is bound into an 8”x11” spiral binder, and contains typed transcripts of letters and recollections of various members of the Thomson family, describing family business, moves to Texas, general health of Texas colonists, the Mier Expedition, the Texan struggle for independence. Some accounts are first hand descriptions of participation, such as James Monroe Hill’s account of the Battle of San Jacinto.
Identification: MS 288
Quantity: 0.25 lin. ft. (1 bound vol.)
Language: Materials are in English.
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX

Biographical Sketch

The Thomson family, whose relatives include the Hallowells, the Jones, and the Hills, were a pioneer family from Georgia that settled along the Brazos River in Eastern Texas. Alexander Thomson, patriarch of the family, was the first member of the family to move to Texas and begin a new life there. J.N.M Thomson and William Thomson are the two eldest sons of Alexander Thomson, William had to be convinced to move to Texas after several failed business ventures in the Unites States of America. J.N.M. Thompson was a member of the ill-fated Mier Expedition into Matamoros, Mexico, and expedition with the intent of shaking Mexico’s hold on the Texas Territory. He repeatedly wrote to both his father, Alexander Thomson, and his brother, William Thomson, in order to secure payment for his release from prison in Mexico. James Monroe Hill, the great nephew of Alexander Thomson, was present at the Battle of San Jacinto and fought alongside General Sam Houston and the Army of the Republic of Texas in their fight against the Presidency of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. James Monroe Hill also was one of the various guards who was in charge of detaining Santa Anna and was present during the first meeting between Santa Anna and General Sam Houston. Jane Hallowell Hill was the wife of James Monroe Hill and the great niece of Alexander Thomson. She was among the many settlers who fled towards the Sabine River after the Alamo was taken by Santa Anna’s army. She sold land and slaves and relied on Native Americans in the absence of her husband and any men to assist her in settling in her temporary residence along the Sabine.

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Scope and Contents

This collection is bound into an 8”x11” spiral binder, and contains typed transcripts of letters prepared by Ana Gardner Thomson. It includes letters and recollections of various members of the Thomson family, describing family business, moves to Texas, general health of Texas colonists, the Mier Expedition, the Texan struggle for independence. Some accounts are first hand descriptions of participation, such as James Monroe Hill’s account of the Battle of San Jacinto.

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish material from the Thomson family papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.

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Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Thomson, Alexander -- correspondence
Thomson, William – correspondence
Thomson, J.N.M. -- correspondence
Kerr, Lucy -- correspondence
Hill, James Monroe -- narratives
Gordon, Roxie -- correspondence
Hill, Jane Halloway – narratives
Houston, Sam, 1793-1863
Travis, William Barret, 1809-1836
Santa Anna, Antonio López de, 1794?-1876
Subjects
Travellers’ writings – Texas.
Colonization, Texas - history
Battle of San Jacinto - history
Formats
Correspondence
Narratives

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Thomson Family of Texas papers, 1832-1898, MS 288, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Acquisition Information

This collection was a gift donated by Jim Glass, 1980.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Letters and narrative accounts

Letter 1: Alexander Thomson to William Thomson
The first letter is written by Alexander Thomson, the first member of the family to move to Texas, to his son William Thomson attempting to convince William to move to Texas. The letter hints at a possible business failing in the United States leaving his William in unfavorable pecuniary circumstances, and features Alexander Thomson advising his son to cut his losses and relocate his business pursuits to Texas.
Letter 2: Alexander Thomson to William Thomson
The second letter is again from Alexander Thomson to William Thomson informing William of the health and condition of his family, followed by a related discourse on the general health of the colonies in Texas and the reported health of different areas surrounding the Brazos River.
Letter 3: From J.N.M. Thomson
The third letter is signed J.N.M. Thomson, brother of William Thomson and the son of Alexander Thomson, and is a urgent request for money with which he would have freed himself from jail. J.N.M Thompson was a part of the ill-fated Mier Expedition into Matamoros, Mexico with the intention of shaking Mexico’s hold on the Texas Territory. The letter details the various skirmishes that took place south of the Rio Grande and the battle in which the insurrectionists were ultimately captured. J.N.M. Thomson then recounts his journey from jail to jail on his way to Mexico City.
Letter 4: Waddy Thompson to Thomson family
The fourth letter if from Waddy Thompson, of no relation to the Thomson family, informing Alexander Thomson of his son’s death by firing squad in Salado by the Mexican Government.
Letter 5: J.N.O. Fontaine to Lucy Kerr
The fifth letter is from J.N.O. Fontaine to his cousin Lucy Kerr, the sister of Alexander Thomson. They have just exchanges likenesses of one another and Fontaine describes his various feelings of nostalgia from memories of their childhood. Fontaine then transitions to his wife’s death and his thoughts on remarriage and whether it is appropriate for his children. He discusses his concern for his children and their possible objections to another marriage. His next subject is his perception of the many “perplexities” that face Texas in its infancy and his impression of the superiority of the United States. Fontaine then briefly expresses his views on religion and his benevolent indifference for the various subtle differences that separate the various sects of Protestantism. After a few lines explaining his current business in planting and manufacturing, Fontaine concludes the letter with news of an aunt’s death that seemed to have never reached Lucy Kerr.
Letter 6: Roxie Gordon to Lucy Kerr
The sixth letter is from Roxie Gordon to her grandmother, Lucy Kerr. The letter is asking for some type of correspondence between the two in order to document them as family keepsakes. Roxie after asking for a continued communication between the two of them, transitions to the subject of her son and how it would greatly benefit him to know more intimately his great aunt. Gordon then addresses the relationship between the Wilcoxs and the McDonalds and the Thomsons. The letter ends by again asking for sustained letters updating her on the familial news.
Narrative: James Monroe Hill
The following section of the booklet is comprised of the recollection of James Monroe Hill. The account opens by explaining how the Hill family arrived and the condition under which they lived for the beginning of their residency. After four paragraphs discussing the early years of his life in Texas, Hill begins to tell the story of the Texan War for Independence. Hill narrates the play by play of his service in the Texan army from his journey to Columbus to seek out General Sam Houston to the actual battle of San Jacinto. He then goes into precise detail with patent zeal and pride for his service. He depicts Houston’s bravery and gallantry in the battle and displays many of the popular sentiments towards the Mexicans and the war effort in general. Near the end and in an appendix by Lucy Jones, his daughter, Hill goes into tremendous detail concerning the capture and dialogue between Santa Anna and Sam Houston. He directly quotes Santa Anna’s first words to Sam Houston.
Narrative: Jane Hallowell Hill
The following account is narrated by Jane Hallowell Hill, James Monroe Hill’s wife. The account begins by Jane Hill describing her ancestry and the region in Tennessee from where she came. After summarizing her journey to settlement in Texas, Jane Hill begins to discuss her actions during the Texan War for Independence. She demonstrates the fear and contempt that she and her family felt towards the Mexicans following the capture of the Alamo and the hurried departure from her home in Central Texas for the Sabine River. Along with her plethora of difficult emotions regarding the war and her family’s involvement, Jane Hill communicates the hardships that her family faced without her husband or any older sons to protect and provide for her and the younger children. She describes the part that the Native Americans indigenous to the area played in helping her survive the harsh wilderness in such trying times. In sharp change in direction, Jane informs the reader ad to the dates of her marriage and her “Golden Wedding” as she calls it. And described her home in Fayette County, Texas and her final home in Austin, Texas. In yet another sharp transition, Jane talks of the time when Crockett and Travis spent the night in their house on their way to Austin. She ends the letter by informing the reader as to all of the men in her family that served in the battle of San Jacinto and the Civil War.

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