Alexander Watkins Terrell:
An Inventory of Reminiscences at the Texas State Archives, 1912
Alexander Watkins Terrell was born November 3, 1827 in Patrick County, Virginia. In 1832 his family moved to Cooper County, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Missouri, he read law at Booneville, and was admitted to the Missouri bar in 1849. His first law practice was in St. Joseph. After moving to Austin, Texas (1852), he became judge of the Second Judicial District (1857-1862). In 1863, he enlisted as major in the 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment, Arizona Brigade; after promotion to lieutenant colonel and then colonel, he commanded Terrell's Texas Cavalry, participating in the battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill. In 1865, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. Fleeing to Mexico at the end of the Civil War, he served briefly under Emperor Maximilian. Upon his return to Texas, he practiced law in Houston for a short time before retiring to his plantation in Robertson County. In 1871 he returned to Austin. From 1876 to 1883 he served four terms in the Texas Senate, and in 1891 he was elected to the first of three terms in the Texas House of Representatives. President Grover Cleveland appointed him minister plenipotentiary to the Ottoman Empire (1893-1897). He was elected as state representative twice more, in 1903 and 1905. Among the legislative bills he authored were the Railroad Commission bill, the bill which donated public land to build the capitol, the bill requiring jurors to be literate, and the Terrell Election Law of 1905 (which began the system of direct primaries). From 1909 to 1911, he was on the University of Texas board of regents, and was instrumental in raising funds to build the library building. He was also chairman of the publications committee and, at the time of his death, president, of the Texas State Historical Association. His first wife, and mother of his five children, was Ann Elizabeth Boulding of Missouri, who died in 1860; his second wife, Sarah D. Mitchell of Robinson County, Texas, died in 1871; his third wife, and widow, was Anne Holiday Anderson Jones. Alexander W. Terrell died in Mineral Wells on September 9, 1912, and was buried in the state cemetery. Terrell County was named in his honor.
The Alexander Watkins Terrell Reminiscences consists of a 105-page typescript copy (either carbon or mimeographed), untitled and unpaginated, of personal memoirs which Alexander Watkins Terrell offered for publication in 1912. These "Recollections" or "Reminiscences" cover Terrell's first criminal case as a young lawyer in Austin, 1853, his acquaintance with Sam Houston, and his experiences in Mexico at the Court of Maximilian, 1865-1867. Fannie E. Ratchford edited the Mexican portion of the narrative (beginning on page 23 of this copy of the manuscript) and published it in 1933 for The Book Club of Texas, under the title From Texas to Mexico and the Court of Maximilian in 1865; she used a copy at the Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas at Austin. According to Ms. Ratchford's introduction, Terrell wrote this portion "at the request of the late Mr. C. B. Gillespie, editor of the Houston Chronicle, in January, 1912, but it was never published," perhaps due to Terrell's death in September 1912.
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Restrictions on Use
Under the Copyright Law of 1976 as amended in 1998, the unpublished manuscript is protected by copyright through December 31, 2002. The copyright status of the 1933 publication of a portion of the manuscript, edited by Fannie Ratchford, is unknown.
Alexander Watkins Terrell Reminiscences. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1947/005
This manuscript was donated to the Texas State Archives by Mary Maguire on April 25, 1947.
Tony Black, June 1985
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