A Guide to the D. A. Orviss Papers, 1858-1898
Illinois-native D. A. Orviss traveled the Mississippi River as a riverboat captain before the Civil War. In 1859, he and W. C. Gillean established a mercantile business, D. A. Orviss and Company, in Jefferson, Texas. From 1860 to 1863, Orviss owned and operated the steamer Texas, and towards the end of the war, he became a Confederate purchasing agent. After the collapse of the Confederacy, Orviss became a U.S. Assistant Treasury Agent and relocated to Illinois with his wife Louisa, née Bush, when the mercantile business failed in 1865. In 1867, the couple moved to Galveston and opened a new mercantile business in Bryan, which Gillean oversaw until the store moved to Calvert in 1869. Orviss then opened several branch stores throughout Central Texas and started speculating in land. Debts and poor harvests forced him to close his business and accept a position at a wholesale firm in Galveston in 1874. Orviss eventually returned to Calvert, where he died in 1895.
Stephens, A. Ray. "D. A. Orviss: Texas Merchant."The Southwestern Historical Quarterly Vol. 65, No. 1 (July 1961): 32-46.
Correspondence, a diary, a ledger, an account book, a freight-list book, and a notebook in the D. A. Orviss Papers, 1858-1898, document Orviss’ business activities in Texas. The diary, 1858-1859, chronicles his work as a riverboat captain on the Mississippi River, while the freight list, 1860-1863, itemizes payments for his steamer Texas between Jefferson and various Louisianan ports. The ledger, bank account book, notebook, and correspondence illuminate the activities of his mercantile store, D. A. Orviss and Company, in Jefferson and Calvert, including discourses with customers, suppliers, store manager W. C. Gillean, and other employees. The bank account book also includes entries for Louisa Orviss after her husband’s death. Additional correspondence discusses his work as a Confederate and U.S. treasury agent as well as his relationships with his wife Louisa, her family, and their friends.
This collection is open for research use.
D. A. Orviss Papers, 1858-1898, 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