University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Eastern Texas Railroad Company Ledger, 1860-1861



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Eastern Texas Railroad Company
Title: Eastern Texas Railroad Company Ledger
Dates: 1860-1861
Abstract: Ledger for the Eastern Texas Railroad Company, 1860-1861. Concerns day-to-day transactions of the company, including its labor force, purchases, and interactions with Confederate personnel.
Accession No.: 96-165
Extent: 0.5 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

The Eastern Texas Railroad Company was formed from the failed Ferguson, Alexander & Co. Company in 1856 following a $50,000 deposit with the State Treasurer. The new company chartered the railroad to run from Sabine Pass, Texas (where the Sabine Lake lets out into the Mexican Gulf), to Henderson. The board of directors was primarily composed of prominent, wealthy Texas plantation and slave owners. Slave labor was used to construct the rail line. By the outbreak of the Civil War, over fifty miles had been constructed, including the twenty-five mile stretch between Beaumont and the Sabine Pass, and thirty miles stretching north of Beaumont.

The railroad’s proximity to the Sabine Pass and the Gulf of Mexico led the Commander of the Confederate forces in Texas, General Magruder, to grow concerned at the possibility of an attack by the Union naval fleet. As a precaution, he ordered that the Eastern Texas Railroad construction equipment be moved to Beaumont where is remained untouched for two years. The Union attacked the Sabine Pass in 1863 and the commander of Company F at fort Griffin, Richard W. Dowling (1838-1867), raided the railroad equipment for supplies to construct and fortify Fort Sabine. The Eastern Texas Railroad project was officially abandoned shortly after the attack. Several decades later, in the 1900s, a new railroad company was organized under the name Eastern Texas Railroad Company but bears no relation to the original project.

Several of the company’s directors went on to serve in the Confederate Army. Matthew Duncan Ector (182-1879) became a brigadier general and James R. Arnold was the Quartermaster General for the State of Texas. Among the other promoters were Samuel H. Witmer, Benjamin F. Marsh, Haden H. Edwards, George W. Cochran, Col. Allen Birdwell (1802-1893), and Wiley Harris.

Sources:

Eastern Texas Railroad Company Ledger, 1860-1861, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Dowling, Richard William," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/DD/fdo28.html (accessed August 10, 2010).

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Eastern Texas Railroad [#1]," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/EE/eqe4.html (accessed August 10, 2010).

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Eastern Texas Railroad [#2]," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/EE/eqevr.html (accessed August 10, 2010).


Scope and Contents

The Eastern Texas Railroad Company Ledger, 1860-1861, contains the original minutes of the company and a record of its various transactions from June 18, 1860 to July 21, 1861. The ledger covers the period of early Texas secession and the interaction of the railroad with Confederate authorities. It details the day-to-day accounting of the organization and operation of one of the early railroads in Texas. Many of its pages focus on the use of slave labor to construct the rail line as well as its construction status.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.


Index Terms

Subjects (Organizations)
Eastern Texas Railroad Company -- Archives
Subjects
Railroad companies -- United States.
Railroad construction & maintenance -- Texas -- 1860-1870.
Railroad construction workers -- Texas -- 1860-1870.
Railroads -- Confederate States of America -- History.
Railraods -- Texas.
Slave labor -- United States -- History.
Places
Confederate States of America -- History.
Texas -- History.

Related Material

Brazos and Galveston Railroad Company Records, 1838-1842

Giddings Family Papers, 1829-1973

Eberstadt Collection, 1699-1959. Gulf, Wesetern Texas, and Pacific Railroad Ledger.

San Antonio and Mexican Gulf Railroad Company Records, 1850-1857

Texas Railroad Scrapbook

Texas Western Railroad Subscriptions Papers, 1854

Materials at Other Repositories:

Bennett Black Papers. Stephen F. Austin University, Ralph W. Steen Library.

Texas Governor Hardin Richard Runnels. Texas State Library and Archives commission. HRR, appointment of Commissioners for the Easter Texas Railroad Company, July 26, 1858.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Eastern Texas Railroad Company Ledger, 1860-1861, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

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

 

Inventory

box
3F514 Eastern Texas Railroad Company Ledger, June 18, 1860-July 21, 1861