A Guide to the James Waller Thomas Papers, [1850s-1890s]
James Waller Thomas, born in Missouri in 1826, moved to Texas in 1846. He married Mary William Smith, daughter of a prominent family in Clarksville, Texas. An early Texas newspaperman, Thomas served as editor of the Clarksville Messenger. While living in Clarksville, he held posts as assistant postmaster, postmaster, and mayor of Clarksville. In 1859 Thomas moved to McKinney in Collin County, where he served as postmaster from 1866-1887 and as county treasurer. There he also started the McKinney Messenger, which was the first newspaper in the county. Thomas was a close friend of Sam Houston and an avid Unionist. He served in the Texas Legislature during Reconstruction, where he was an outspoken Republican. When his political enemies burned down his newspaper office, Thomas continued to print the Messenger in his barn on butcher paper. Thomas died November 8, 1906.
The James Waller Thomas Papers, 1850s-1890s, are comprised of Thomas' personal correspondence between 1849 and 1867, as well as portions of eleven issues of the McKinney Messenger and one issue of the Shreveport, Louisiana, South-Western. Also included are deeds and documents concerning the Thomas family, their businesses, and farming. Additionally, a Fifth Texas Cavalry Muster Roll and other documents pertaining to the Confederate Army in 1864 are included. The papers also contain photos of James Thomas, his wife Mary W. Smith Thomas, and their family, circa 1890. Furthermore, the papers contain a photographic copy of a daguerreotype of Sam Houston given to Thomas by Houston.
James Waller Thomas Papers, [1850s-1890s], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Detailed Description of the Papers