A Guide to the John Forbes Papers, 1835-1861
Scottish-born, John Forbes (1797-1880), Texas soldier, lawyer, and judge, immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, from England in 1817. After marrying Emily Sophia Sisson, Forbes moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1835. At first, Forbes served as chairman of the Committee on Vigilance and Public Safety, but in November 1835 he was elected first Judge of the Nacogdoches Municipality. By December, provisional governor Henry Smith and the Consultation appointed Forbes, John Cameron, and General Sam Houston as commissioners to negotiate a treaty with nearby Cherokees. The commission managed to secure a treaty of complete neutrality from the Cherokee after a three-day meeting. Forbes then joined the Texas army as a major and aide-de-camp to Sam Houston and served as commissary general during the Anahuac campaign and the battle of San Jacinto.
In 1859, Forbes filed a civil suit in the Nacogdoches court against Nicholas Labadie for libel. Labadie, in his reminiscences, claimed that during the Texas Revolution Forbes murdered several Mexican women, took prisoners without justification, and stole a gold snuffbox from a dead Mexican officer after the battle of San Jacinto. The suit remained active until 1867, when Forbes won and had his reputation restored.
Following the revolution, Forbes returned to Nacogdoches and served as principal judge of the Nacogdoches municipality. Forbes also served as mayor of Nacogdoches in 1856 and as a Lieutenant Colonel on Richard Coke’s staff in 1876. Forbes died in 1880 in Nacogdoches.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. “Forbes, John,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/FF/ffo8.html (accessed July 9, 2010).
Typescript copies of correspondence, legal charges, and commissary accounts comprise the John Forbes Papers, 1835-1861, and document Forbes’ career as a soldier and commissary general of the Texas army. The papers also concern Forbes’ dispute with and libel suit against Nicholas Labadie, relating to Labadie’s reminiscences published in the Texas Almanac.
This collection is open for research use.
John Forbes Papers, 1835-1861, 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