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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

Expatriates: New Hampshire and Vermont in Texas


The New Handbook of Texas[1], a six-volume encyclopedia of the Lone Star State, is the result of fourteen years of effort by a staff of 130, supervising the 3,000 volunteers who composed over 23,000 essays, including more than 7,200 biographies, that fill the 6,840 pages of this huge compendium. It supersedes an earlier and more modest three-volume set called The Handbook of Texas. [2] Browsing through the six thick volumes produced an interesting assortment of more than forty expatriates from New Hampshire and Vermont who figured significantly in Texas history, none of whom are indexed in any helpful way as to their geographic origins in northern New England. This essay describes how these transplants to Texas are connected to localities spread across the New Hampshire and Vermont hinterlands surrounding Dartmouth College, including one instance in which a Texas transplant linked himself to nearby Thetford.

Not surprisingly, an entry for Thomas Winthrop Streeter (1883-1965) is included in The New Handbook of Texas, because this Dartmouth College alumnus in the Class of 1904, who received an honorary Litt.D. from his alma mater in 1946, 'assembled the largest private Texana collection ever compiled.' As chairman of the board of the Simms Petroleum Corporation from 1923 to 1930 Streeter made several business trips to Texas from his home in Morristown, New Jersey. These visits prompted his interest in collecting 'books, pamphlets, broadsides and maps relating to Texas history' between 1795 and 1845. Those acquisitions, totaling almost 2,000 imprints, are now in Yale University's outstanding Western Americana Collection. But Streeter was generous also to Dartmouth; in 1941 he donated several hundred items about the first two decades, from 1840 to 1860, of railroading in northern New England. These are available today in the Library's Special Collections. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Friends of the Dartmouth Library. Resolutely proud of his New Hampshire heritage-born in Concord, buried in Peterborough-he even acquired, early in his career as a lawyer-businessman, the electric-light companies serving Hanover, Lebanon, and White River Junction and organized them into the Grafton County Light & Power Company, which later was absorbed into the New England Power Company system.

But it is surprising to find many more entries in The New Handbook of Texas that disclose how the history of the Lone Star State is populated with transplanted New Englanders who were natives of New Hampshire and Vermont. One was actually born and schooled in Hanover until he ran away from home to join the U.S. Army and subsequently won a Medal of Honor for gallantry in action while fighting against Kiowa and Comanche Indians at the battle of the Little Wichita River in 1870. He was Solon D. Neal (1846-1920), the son of Eli and May Neal of Hanover. Retiring from the military in 1897, he lived at 106 Wyoming Street in San Antonio, which today is a site attracting tourists because the tower for Hemisfair '68 was erected there.

While a biographical sketch of Eleazar Louis Ripley Wheelock (1793-1847), also born in Hanover, is expectedly encountered in this set, the briefer entry for the town of Wheelock, Texas, does provide a new explanation of how that settlement got its name. First interested in the site while travelling to Mexico in 1823, Wheelock moved his family there in 1833. Actively engaged as 'surveyor, land agent, lawyer, rancher, farmer, and soldier,' he built a blockhouse and organized and captained a company of Texas Rangers during the Texas Revolution. Captured several times by Indians, he was nonetheless a staunch 'defender of Indian rights,' serving as 'Indian commissioner under President Anson Jones' of the Texas Republic. 'In 1837 he organized the Texas University Company and gave land generously for its support. The coeducational institution died aborning' because of Indian raids that continued until 1843. The entry for the town of Wheelock notes that several attempts in the late 1830s were made to locate the Texas state capital there, and 'in 1837 the town was one of the sites considered for the University of Texas.' But the surprise in this entry is this assertion: 'Wheelock originally planned to name the town Lamar, after Vice President Mirabeau B. Lamar, but in 1837 the name Wheelock was chosen, after Wheelock, Vermont, which had been named for E. L. R. Wheelock's grandfather, the founder of Dartmouth College.' This is the only instance to my knowledge that claims Wheelock, Texas, is toponymically the offspring of Wheelock, Vermont. E. L. R. Wheelock was not a Dartmouth alumnus, surprisingly, but several other Dartmouth alumni are profiled in this encyclopedia. One is Rufus William Bailey (1793-1863), a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in Dartmouth's Class of 1813, and the husband of Lucy Hatch of Norwich, Vermont. He 'studied law under Daniel Webster, and returned to Dartmouth to teach. Later he taught in Virginia and helped to establish Mary Baldwin Seminary.' He went to Texas in 1854. The next year he 'accepted the chair of languages at Austin College,' and in 1858 was elected as third president of that institution, serving until 1862, a year before his death. Bailey was one of several educators from New Hampshire and Vermont who left an imprint on higher education in Texas. James Huckins, born in Dorchester, New Hampshire, in 1807 and converted by Baptists in Windsor, Vermont, was a charter trustee of Baylor University and a fervent fundraiser for this Baptist school. Chauncey Richardson, born in an undisclosed Vermont town on 10 October 1802, was a Methodist minister appointed to the Danville, Vermont, circuit. He later became the first president of Rutersville College, which eventually merged with several other colleges to form Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Tarleton State University in Stephenville is named for John Tarleton, born circa 1808 (another source says 1811) in a town labeled White Mountain, Vermont, 'near the New Hampshire line.' Margaret Peck (1904-1986), born in Philadelphia but raised in Vermont and a graduate of Middlebury College in 1925, spent forty years at the University of Texas except for a brief stint from 1936 to 1937 as director of women's activities at Middlebury, retiring from Texas in 1970.

Another Dartmouth alumnus was Edward Hopkins Cushing, a Vermonter born in Royalton in 1829 and a Dartmouth graduate in 1850, who went to Texas to teach, which he did in Galveston, Brazoria, and Columbia. He gravitated toward journalism and got control of the Houston Telegraph in 1856. 'Cushing became a staunch Southern-rights Democrat and in 1860 supported John C. Breckinridge for president,' says the entry about his life. 'He played a key role in publicizing an alleged plot of abolitionists and blacks to overthrow slavery in Texas, thus contributing to the growth of secessionism in the Lone Star State.' Nor was Cushing contrite about the Confederate defeat at the end of the Civil War. 'During Reconstruction, because the Telegraph took a position unfavorable to carpetbaggers, Governor Edmund J. Davis advised Andrew Johnson against political pardon for Cushing and suggested hanging him.' Cushing survived this fate, living in Houston until his death, from natural causes, in 1879. Ebenezer Allen is another Dartmouth alumnus portrayed in this encyclopedia, but The New Handbook could not ascertain his birthplace and birth year and accordingly lets a question mark stand starkly in lieu of information about his origins, referring incorrectly to him later as 'a native of Maine.' George T. Chapman's Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1867) on page 228 states that Allen was born in Newport, New Hampshire, on 26 December 1795, graduated from Dartmouth in 1826, and practiced law in Maine before to went to Galveston. Once Allen is in Texas The New Handbook picks up his life story. An early railroad promotor, Allen twice served as attorney general of Texas, and also for a while as secretary of state, assisting President Anson Jones 'in framing the terms of annexation to the United States.' Allen supported secession; he died in Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, in 1863.

Another Vermonter from Royalton (rendered incorrectly as Royaltown), with views totally different from the stridently pro-Southern outlook of Edward Hopkins Cushing, was George Stanton Denison (1833-1866), a graduate in 1854 of the University of Vermont, who went to San Antonio to teach 'in his uncle's private school.' A pro-unionist, Denison hurried to safety in the north when Texas seceded from the United States in February 1861. His kinsman, Samuel P. Chase, Dartmouth Class of 1826, who attended Royalton Academy before entering Dartmouth, was Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury and appointed Denison as special agent for the U.S. Treasury Department in New Orleans after that vital river city was captured by federal troops in April of 1862, and later appointed him collector of customs for New Orleans. 'Chase instructed Denison to write him personally about "all that relates to persons and things not proper for the subject of official communications."' Denison readily complied, commenting almost weekly about local politics, social conditions, and military topics.

Throughout The New Handbook are interesting examples of how expatriates from Vermont and New Hampshire opposed each other when North and South went to war in 1861. Hiram Chamberlain (1797-1866), like Edward Hopkins Cushing, was a Vermonter who supported the Confederacy. Born in Monkton, and a graduate of Middlebury College in 1822, he founded 'the first Protestant church on the lower Rio Grande' Valley, the First Presbyterian Church of Brownsville, in 1850. Although he did not own slaves and apparently disapproved of slavery, he could not find any biblical injunction against this form of involuntary labor, and he was an ardent secessionist, serving as a Confederate chaplain. But Melinda Rankin, born in Littleton, New Hampshire, in 1811, who went to Texas as a Presbyterian missionary to Mexicans in 1847, and who worked with Chamberlain to open the Rio Grande Female Institute at Brownsville in 1854, was a staunch unionist. In 1862 the president of her school's board of directors insisted she surrender her position. She taught for a while across the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico, 'then taught freed blacks in New Orleans, where she was also a nurse in federal hospitals,' and returned to Brownsville when it was captured in 1864 by Union troops. But Confederates recaptured Brownsville and she left again, living in New Orleans until 1865. After the war she raised $14,000 in the north, used this sum to purchase a building in Monterrey, and 'opened the first Protestant mission in Mexico,' until poor health in 1872 forced her to retire from missionary work.

One of the helpful uses of The New Handbook of Texas is its portraits of federal officials during the Reconstruction era, because these figures have usually been ignored or disdained in the traditional historiography of Texas. Ezekiel B. Turner (1825-1888), a Putney native who arrived in Texas in 1853, was 'an outspoken Unionist during the secession crisis' of 1860-1861, 'drilled as a member of the "Home Guard" formed by Unionists,' and had to leave Texas in 1862 because prevailing opinion could not tolerate his dissenting views. But 'when United States troops arrived in Austin in July 1865, Turner was one of the speakers who welcomed them to the capital.' He served as attorney general of Texas from 1867 to 1870, and later as a judge.

Edwin Miller Wheelock (1829-1901), a Unitarian minister from Dover, New Hampshire (born in New York City), did not moderate his fervently abolitionist convictions while in Texas and served as both superintendent of the Freedman's Bureau schools in Texas and later as superintendent of public instruction. Joseph Anthony Mower (1827-1870), a Vermonter born in Woodstock and educated at Norwich University[3] when this military school was located across the Connecticut River from Hanover, arrived in Galveston Bay on 16 June 1865 to implement Reconstruction, unhesitatingly 'supported civil and political rights' for freed slaves, and implemented removal of Democrats-many of them Confederate veterans-from public offices, and their replacement by Republicans. Mower is described as 'one of the most radical Republican army officers in the South during Reconstruction,' but interestingly his sketch by Donovan Yeuell in the Dictionary of American Biography, published in 1934, notes his death in New Orleans on 6 January 1870 but doesn't even mention his Reconstruction activities in Texas. The New Handbook explains Mower's dismissal of Democrats from their elected positions by saying Republicans 'believed that such measures were necessary if national laws were to be upheld and if blacks were to be registered to vote. Texans hated Mower and his troops.'

Several migrants from New Hampshire and Vermont figure significantly in the entrepreneurial history of Texas. Jesse Obadiah Wheeler (1813-1867), from Rutland, Vermont, brought steamboats in 1850 and railroads in 1861 to Victoria on the Guadalupe River, and became the 'wealthiest man in Victoria County.' George Curtis Vaughan (1858-1940), born in St. Johnsbury Center, was a successful lumberman in San Antonio with landholdings stretching from Louisiana to Mexico, and whose enterprises included building 'most of the Ford truck and bus bodies used in Mexico.' Henry Frederick MacGregor, born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, in 1855 and educated at Pinkerton Academy and at the Bryant and Stratton Commerical College in Manchester, chose Houston as his destination and was so successful in railroading, banking, real estate, printing, and other pursuits that he was able to maintain a vacation residence in his natal New Hampshire town, retreating from the Houston heat and humidity to Londonderry every summer. MacGregor was a Republican before millions of Texans started to vote his way; he ran as a Republican congressional candidate in 1904, headed William Howard Taft's re-election campaign for the presidency in 1912, and as Republican National Committeeman from 1912 to his death in 1923 he directed GOP affairs in Texas from his Houston office. An architect who designed several major buildings and homes in Houston's early growth years-alas! many of his structures were replaced in Houston's later growth years-was George E. Dickey, born in Wilmot, New Hampshire, in 1840 and educated there and in New London, who arrived in Houston in 1878.

Three counties in Texas bear the names of ex-New Englanders. Kendall County honors George Wilkins Kendall (1809-1867), born in Mount Vernon, New Hampshire, who learned to be a printer in Burlington, Vermont, founded the New Orleans Picayune, became the first foreign war correspondent in American history when he reported the Mexican War (during which he was wounded in the storming of Chapultepec), and in the 1850s was the first person in Texas to import merino sheep from Vermont. Wheeler County is named for Royal Tyler Wheeler, born in Putney in 1810, who became a member of the first Texas Supreme Court after statehood, serving as chief justice until his death in 1864, an appropriate role for him since he was named for Royall Tyler of Guilford and Brattleboro, chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court from 1807 to 1813. Montague County is named for Daniel Montague (1798-1876), born in South Hadley, Massachusetts, but a Vermont resident (town unspecified) from 1800 to 1819, where he learned to be a surveyor and engineer. He settled in Texas in 1837 and as a surveyor amassed huge land holdings.

An unreconstructed Texan, Thomas B. Chubb (1811-1886) not only appears in this New Handbook but also figures in the history of Thetford, Vermont. A seaman in the coffee trade with South America, Chubb sailed eastward to Africa on one of his voyages, captured 400 Africans in the Congo, and shipped them to the West Indies, where he sold them into slavery. He also persuaded free African-Americans in the North to ship as crew members on his voyages, but when he got south and anchored where slavery in antebellum America was allowed, he claimed these sailors were not free but instead were slaves, and he sold them, too, into slavery. Operating from Galveston when Texas rebelled against Mexican rule, Chubb shipped arms to the Texans. His friendship with Sam Houston resulted in appointment as an admiral in the Texas Navy in 1836. The next year he was accused of stealing slaves but somehow evaded that charge. During the Civil War he was commander of a Confederate steamer called the Royal Yacht, and he was part of a militia that maintained a lookout for Union ships from a tower on the Galveston strand. When Northerners captured Galveston they sentenced Chubb to death for engaging in the slave trade, but Confederate president Jefferson Davis warned he would avenge the death of Chubb by executing ten northern prisoners. Chubb was exchanged for a northerner in a southern prison.

Chubb shows up in Thetford soon after the Civil War (how he 'discovered' Thetford is a mystery), calling himself Commodore Chubb and running a summer resort hotel he named the Commodore House, which catered mainly to a southern clientele. Located in the Post Mills section of Thetford, adjacent to Lake Fairlee, his lodge undoubtedly was a cool haven for these vacationing escapees from the steamy heat of summertime in the former Confederacy. Charles Latham, Jr., in his A Short History of Thetford, Vermont, 1761-1870, says local legend claimed that when Chubb died in Thetford in 1886 his request that his body be wrapped in a Confederate flag was fulfilled.[4] Knowing now what the New Handbook divulges about his nefarious activities before his arrival in Thetford, this legend may very well be true.

Other interesting transplants in these six volumes include:

William Babcook Hazen, born in West Hartford, Vermont, in 1830, a West Pointer (1855) fighting Indians in Texas from 1858 to 1860;

Miles DeForest Andross, born in Bradford, Vermont, a defender of the Alamo, killed at this shrine of Texas independence on 6 March 1836;

Henry Prentice Redfield, a New Hampshireman born in Derry in 1819, and his brother, William, who fought as soldiers for the Republic of Texas;

Cornelius Van Ness, the son of a Vermont governor, born in Burlington in 1803, who served in the Fourth (Texas) Congress from 1839 to 1840 with another Vermonter, Daniel Pierce Coit, whose exact birthplace and birth year are unknown;

Samuel Emery Chamberlain, born in 1829 in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, author of 'perhaps the most vivid, revealing, earthy account of the life of an enlisted soldier in the war with Mexico' and also a painter;[5]

Philip Crosby Tucker, Jr., (1826-1894), a Vermont lawyer from Vergennes and a Confederate supporter during the Civil War, who 'introduced the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry into Texas' and played a key role in preserving much of the early history of Galveston when it was the major city in Texas;

Timothy B. Phelps, identified as coming from Oxford, New Hampshire (which is probably a misreading of Orford, Hanover's northern neighbor beyond), who was a teacher in Stephen F. Austin's colony;

Henry Cheever Pratt, also from 'Oxford,' an artist who left 'hundreds of sketches' of scenes along the U.S-Mexican border in 1851, 'some of which he expanded into oil paintings'; Don Carlos Barrett (1788-1838), born in Norwich, who married Lucy Walton of Norwich in 1810, in Natchez, Mississippi, and whose practice as a Texas lawyer included efforts to mend the breach between Texas settlers and the Mexican government;

and the Mooar brothers from Pownal, Vermont-John Wesley Mooar (1846-1918) and Josiah Wright Mooar (1851-1940)-who together as a buffalo hunter and a salesman of buffalo hides did more than anyone else to exterminate the buffalo in the Texas Panhandle between 1873 and 1905.

Many of the geographic names associated with these transplants are just a little bit off: Oxford, Royaltown, White Mountain, mentioned above; Amos Pollard, a doctor killed at the Alamo, learned medicine at the Vermont Academy in Castletown, Vermont (Castleton). One wonders if the sizable cadre of contributors to this New Handbook got their geographic linkages stated correctly. In depositories-libraries, historical societies, farmhouse attics-across New Hampshire and Vermont, one might find letters from these expatriates containing information about their lives before they left for Texas. Thus The New Handbook not only provides helpful accounts of Texas-bound New Englanders from New Hampshire and Vermont, but also invites more research about their life histories.

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[1] The New Handbook of Texas, ed. Ron Tyler et al., 6 vols. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996). All quotations in this essay, unless otherwise identified, are from the alphabetically-arranged entries in the Handbook.

[2] The Handbook of Texas, ed. Walter Prescott Webb et al., 3 vols. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1952-1976).

[3] Cited as 'Norwich Academy' in the New Handbook entry.

[4] (Thetford, Vt.: Thetford Historical Society, 1972), 45-46.

[5] My Confession, intro. and postscript by Roger Butterfield (New York: Harper & Brothers, [1956]). His watercolor of a San Antonio scene in 1867 is reproduced as Plate 16 in a portfolio of paintings at the beginning of Volume One of The New Handbook.

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