University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the James Waller Thomas Papers, [1850s-1890s]



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Thomas, James Waller
Title: Thomas, James Waller Papers
Dates: [1850s-1890s]
Abstract: An early Texas newspaperman, James Waller 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. The Thomas papers include correspondence, newspapers, deeds, documents, and photographs.
Accession No.: 2002-113; 2016-212
Extent: 5 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

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.


Scope and Contents

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, as well as documents concerning Thomas' role in the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1868 and his appointment as Collin County Treasurer.

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.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions

Unrestricted use.


Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Thomas, James Waller, 1826-1906--Archives.
Thomas, Mary W. Smith
Houston, Sam, 1793-1863
Subjects (Organizations)
Clarksville Messenger
McKinney Messenger
Texas. Legislature
Confederate States of America. Army. Cavalry. Texas Regiment, 5th
Subjects
Newspapers--Texas
Newspapers--Louisiana--Shreveport
Newspaper editors--Texas--Clarksville
Newspaper editors--Texas--McKinney
Farming--Texas
Postmasters--Texas--History
Places
Clarksville (Tex.)
McKinney (Tex.)
Shreveport (La.)

Related Material

See also the Thomas (James P., Sr.) Papers, 1898, 1928.

See also the Houston (Sam) Papers, 1814-1957.

See also the Houston (Samuel, Jr.) Papers.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

James Waller Thomas Papers, [1850s-1890s], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.


Detailed Description of the Papers

 

Inventory

box
3C63 Personal Correspondence
Legal Deeds and Documents
Newspaper clippings, photocopies
Special Order No. 78, Headquarters, Fifth Military District, New Orleans, electing delegates to the Texas Constitutional Convention, including J.W. Thomas of Collin County, April 13, 1868
Letter to Thomas who was serving as chariman of the Committee on Printing at the Constitutional Convention, from Acting Texas Comptroller George C. Rives, concerning the printing of the constitution and related documents, July 25, 1868
Resolution enumerating which local newspapers will publish the new Texas constitution, and in which counties each of these newspapers will distribute the printed constitution. Included is Thomas' own McKinney Messenger. The resolution was authored by William V. Tunstall, Secretary of the Texas Reconstruction Convention, September 7, 1868
Republican Executive Committee document naming Thomas as a Republican party organizer in McKinney, Texas, . September 18, 1868
Certificate appointing Thomas as Collin County Treasurer, signed by Governor Edmund J. Davis, . August 25, 1870
box
2.325/OD 12 Confederate States of America, Martins Regiment of Texas Cavalry
box
3So14b Photos
James Thomas
Mary Thomas
Thomas Family at home in Sherman, Tex.
Sam Houston