A Guide to the Oran Milo Roberts Papers, 1815-1897
Oran Milo Roberts (1815–1898) was a jurist and governor of Texas, 1879-1883. He graduated from the University of Alabama in 1836, was admitted to the bar in 1837, and moved in 1841 to San Augustine, Texas, where he opened a successful law practice. In 1844, Sam Houston appointed Roberts district attorney of San Augustine, and in 1866, Governor James Pinckney Henderson appointed him district judge. Roberts also taught law at the University of San Augustine.
Roberts earned a position on the Texas Supreme Court in 1856, and in 1861 was elected president of the Secession Convention in Austin. After a brief military career in the Eleventh Texas Infantry of Walker’s Texas Division, which he helped raise and organize, Roberts returned to Austin. There he served as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, 1864-1865.
During Reconstruction Roberts was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1866 and was also elected United States senator. However, during this time there was a majority of Radical Republicans, who refused to seat the Texas delegates, Roberts included. Eventually, Roberts moved to Gilmer, Texas, and opened a law school in 1868. In 1874, Democrats once more took the majority in Austin, and Roberts was appointed and then elected to the Texas Supreme Court. He served as chief justice for four years and then in 1878 was elected governor of Texas.
The University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883, just before Roberts’s term as governor was slated to end, and he was appointed professor of law. He held this position until 1893, when he moved to Marble Falls to focus on writing. Some of his works include A Description of Texas: Its Advantages and Resources (1881); The Elements of Texas Pleading (1890); and Our Federal Relations, from a Southern View of Them (1892).
Roberts returned to Austin in 1895 and was instrumental in the foundation of the Texas State Historical Association, becoming the first president of the organization. Roberts married Francis W. Edwards in 1837, and they had seven children. In 1887, four years after Francis died, Roberts married Mrs. Catherine E. Border. He died in Austin in 1898.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Roberts, Oran Milo," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/RR/fro18.html (accessed May 20, 2010).
The Oran Milo Roberts Papers, 1815-1897, include correspondence, diary, reminiscences, legal documents, military orders, notebook, lecture notes, speeches, lawyer’s case book, certificate, scrapbook, literary productions, broadsides, pamphlets, clippings, and photographs concerning Roberts’s business and political activities. The papers specifically relate to Roberts’ activities as a student at the University of Alabama, a lawyer, San Augustine district attorney and district judge, and president of the board of trustees and lecturer in law at the university of San Augustine. Additionally, the papers relate to Roberts’ time as an associate justice and chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, a president of the Texas Secession Convention, a colonel and organizer of the 11th Texas Infantry, a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1866, a United States Senator who was refused his seat, a Texas governor, a professor of law at the University of Texas, and a historical author.
Items of note in the Roberts collection include autobiographical materials, transcripts of lectures and speeches, a literary production of "A History of the War in Texas," and an 1881 proclamation convening the Board of Regents for the University of Texas at Austin.
The collection is open for research use.
Oran Milo Roberts Papers, 1815-1897, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011. Finding aid encoded by Keelee James, April 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers