A Guide to the William Harrison Hamman Papers, 1840-1879, 1921-1927, 1946-1952
Born in Woodstock, Virginia, William Harrison Hamman (1830-1890) was the son of George (1804-1840) and Catherine (Schmucker) Hamman (1806-1859). While a student at the University of Virginia between 1850 and 1851, Hamman joined the Virginia Militia as second lieutenant, being promoted to captain in 1856. In 1858, he moved to Owensville in Robertson County, Texas, where he practiced law. Although a staunch supporter of the Union and opponent the secession of Virginia, Hamman’s dislike for the newly elected Abraham Lincoln led him to rally in Robertson County for the secession of Texas. On July 15, 1861, Hamman joined the “Robertson Five Shooters” as a private, which later became a part of Company C of the Fourth Texas Infantry of Hood’s Texas Brigade. Rising quickly in the ranks from private to regimental commissary officer, Hamman was promoted to captain of the Texas State Troops in 1864 and later adjutant general and brigadier general of the Fifth Brigade District.
In addition to his military career, Hamman entered into business partnerships in 1870 with the Calvert Bridge Company, the Pacific and Great Eastern Railway Company, and the Texas Timber and Prairie Railroad Company in an effort to build a bridge over the Brazos River at Calvert, as well as construct the Calvert and Belton railroad. He was also one of the first oil prospectors in Texas, having drilled at Saratoga in 1866. In 1871, Hamman married Ella Virginia Laudermilk (1851-1926), with whom he had five children, and settled in Calvert where he once again practiced law. He was subsequently appointed to the Texas Supreme Court and the United States 5th Circuit Court as a legal counselor. As the leading opponent to Oran M. Roberts in both the 1878 and 1880 gubernatorial races, Hamman ran on the Greenback party platform, but lost both races. Despite his failed political career, Hamman’s entrepreneurial nature led him to establish the Cherokee Coal and Iron Company in 1889 in an effort to explore the coal and iron deposits in New Birmingham. He died on July 14, 1890 and was interred in the Calvert City Cemetery.
Cutrer, Thomas W. "Hamman, William Harrison."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed December 21, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fha40.
Comprised of two volumes of Photostats and genealogical items, the William Harrison Hamman Papers, 1840-1879, 1921-1927, 1946-1952, contain commissions, speeches, legal papers, and correspondence, documenting the military, entrepreneurial, and political career of Hamman. The collection documents his education at the University of Virginia (1851), his military activities before, during, and after the Civil War (1850-1864), and his business endeavors as an oil prospector (1866). Several letters from Hamman to his friend Jacob H. Kibler concern the war, slavery, and the political climate in the South (1858-1865), while speeches pertain to the preservation of the Union (1857). Recollections describe his candidacy for governor in 1878 and 1880 and his involvement in railroad construction in 1870. Legal documents relate to Hamman’s appointment as the legal counselor in the Texas Supreme Court and the United States 5th Circuit Court (1870-1871). Additionally, genealogical materials pertain to Hamman’s family history (1946-1952), and excerpts from newspapers and journal articles (1921-1943) describe his political and business ventures.
This collection is open for research use.
William Harrison Hamman Papers, 1840-1879, 1921-1927, 1946-1952, 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