A Guide to the Polley Family Papers, 1824-1976 (bulk 1855-1875)
Born in New York in 1795, Joseph Henry Polley was one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred colonists. He settled in the Brazoria District around 1821 and married Mary Augusta Bailey in 1823. Mrs. Polley’s father was also one of Austin's early colonists, James Briton Bailey, who had moved to Texas with his family around 1818 and settled near the Brazos River. The Polleys' earliest home, “Whitehall”, was one of the first public homes, and was often the site of meetings for revolutionary councils. In the early 1850s, a second “Whitehall” was built located along the Cibolo River. Polley was Austin colony’s first sheriff; he grew cotton and raised cattle, having some of the largest herds in Texas.
One of the Polleys' daughters, Harriet (Hattie) Polley, married David H. Houston in late 1866 after ten years of courtship. Houston was studying to be a surgeon in Oakland, Alabama, when the beginning of the Civil War interrupted his education. He joined the Confederate Army and by October 1861 he was already acting as assistant surgeon for his company. After the war, Houston set up his practice as a doctor in Seguin.
Claiborne Rector, born in Alabama in 1802, was also an early settler and soldier in the Texas Revolution. He moved to Texas in January 1830 and settled in the area of present Brazoria County. Around 1840 he moved to what is now Wilson County, receiving a 4,000-acre patent of land in 1845. Rector represented Wilson County at the Secession Convention in 1861. He died on 1873.
Merle Weir, "BAILEY, JAMES BRITON," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Richard B. McCaslin, "POLLEY, JOSEPH HENRY," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
J. L. Bryan, "RECTOR, CLAIBORNE," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Consisting of original correspondence and transcripts, legal documents, photostats of family records, clippings, photographs and research material, the Polley Family Papers, 1824-1976 (bulk 1855-1875), document the history of early Texas and the Polley family. The letters, mainly between Hattie Polley and David H. Houston, provide a glimpse of life in Texas during the Civil War period and the routines of the front. The legal documents relate to the Bailey, Polley and Houston families, and include wills, land grants from 1824 (photocopies) and a claim concerning Joseph H. Polley’s estate. Also included in the collection are a few photographs of Whitehall and two unidentified women, research materials on the Polley family and several deeds relating to Claiborne Rector.
This collection is open for research use.
Polley Family Papers, 1824-1976 (bulk 1855-1875), Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Paloma Graciani Picardo, November 2014.
Detailed Description of the Papers