A Guide to the Thomas Howard DuVal Papers, 1857-1879
Thomas Howard DuVal (1813-1880) was the first United States judge for the Western District of Texas. He was admitted to the Florida bar in 1837, and worked there as circuit clerk of Leon County and clerk ex officio of the court of appeals. He also served as secretary of the Territory of Florida, 1841-1945. Following in the footsteps of his two brothers, Burr H. and John C., DuVal moved to Austin in 1845. He served as a reporter for the state Supreme Court, 1846-1851, and became secretary of state in 1881. For one year, 1855-56, DuVal was the judge of the Second Judicial District of Texas, and in 1857 President James Buchanan appointed him first United States judge for the newly created Western District of Texas, which included Waco, Austin, and San Antonio.
The work of the courts in Texas was suspended upon the outbreak of the Civil War, but the avid Unionist DuVal remained in Austin and worked at the General Land Office and as a surveyor for the county. When his son, Burr G., enlisted in the Confederate Army, DuVal risked his life to travel to Washington to attempt to present a plan for the termination of the war. Though unsuccessful, he managed to obtain some of his yet unpaid salary. He also spent time during the war in New Orleans and Brownsville, Texas. When the war ended, DuVal accepted his son’s allegiance to the United States, and worked towards rebuilding U.S. constitutional law. He died in 1880 and is buried in Austin.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "DuVal, Thomas Howard," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/DD/fdu34.html (accessed July 8, 2010).
The Thomas Howard DuVal Papers, 1857-1879, include DuVal’s correspondence and diaries, relating to his life and career as a judge of the United States Court for the Western District of Texas. The papers include material dealing with his personal, familial, business, and political affairs during the Civil War years. Furthermore, the collection includes diaries recounting hunting and fishing expeditions in Texas and trips to Minnesota, New England, New York, and Canada.
Thomas Howard DuVal Papers, 1857-1879, 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.
Detailed Description of the Papers