John Henry Brown.

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star paled in the gloom of defeat.

He has resided at Alleyton since 1860 (except
during the period covered by the war) ; is a popu-
lar and eflScient public official, and has done much
to promote the development and prosperity of his



The subject of this sketch is neither a "pioneer "
nor an " Indian fighter," but is one of the younger
men now prominent in Texas, who came here early
in life without money or acquaintances, and who
have succeeded well professionally and from a bus-
iness point of view. He was born in Room County,
Tenn., May 2d, 1853. His parents were James R.
and Mary A. (Hunt) Robertson. His father, who
was a physician and local Methodist preacher, died
April 15th, 1861,. leaving the nurture and training
of six small children to the widowed mother. She
was a woman of remarkably strong character and
possessed in a high degree of common sense and
practical judgment. She devoted her life to the
welfare of her children and died surrounded and
mourned by them in Austin, November 16, 1894,
at the age of eighty years and sixteen days.
Whatever of success the subject of this sketch has
attained in life he attributes to the teaching and
care bestowed upon him by his devoted mother.

James H. Robertson received a practical English
education, and at twenty years of age began the
study of law in the office of Col. P. B. Mayfield,
at Cleveland, Tenn. In June, 1874, he moved to
Austin, Texas, where he continued the study of
the law and was admitted to the bar in the summer
of the year following. In September, 1876, he
moved to Williamson County, where he resided for
eight years, during which time he enjoyed a large
and lucrative practice. In 1882 he was elected
to the Eighteenth Legislature, from Williamson
County, and served his constitueilfey with credit to
himself and to their entire satisfaction in that body,
but deserved further honors in this line. In 1884
he wa,s nominated by the Democracy and elected to
the office of District Attorney of the 26th Judicial
District, embracing the counties of Travis and
Williamson, and was successively re-elected to that
office in 1886, 1888 and 1890.

Upon his election to the office of District Attorney




in November, 1884, he moved to Austin, where he
has since resided. During his six years service as
District Attorney he conducted many important
criminal prosecutions, and, of the many criminal
cases tried, although defended by a bar of ability
equal to any in the State, the records show that
more than seventy-five per cent of the trials re-
sulted in convictions and that crime diminished
more than fifty per cent in the district.

In addition to the criminal business of the office,
he, as a representative of the State, brought and
tried many important civil suits, most of which
were appealed to the Supreme Court, and all of
which, except one case, resulted in final judgments
in favor of the State for all that was claimed.
The Twenty-second Legislature at its regular ses-
sion in 1891, created the Fifty-third Judicial Dis-
trict, consisting of Travis County, which required
the appointment of a judge, and Governor James S.
Hogg tendered the District Judgeship of the dis-
trict to Mr. Robertson. He accepted the appoint-
ment and qualified May 27, 1891. He was
subsequently nominated for the position by the
Democracy of the district in convention assembled
and elected in November, 1892, by a flattering
majority, a just and fitting recognition of his
eminent ' services on the bench. On March
16th, 1895, he resigned the judgeship to enter

into copartnership with Ex-Governor Hogg,
for the purpose of practicing law at Austin under
the firm name of Hogg & Eobertson, since which
tinie he has devoted himself exclusively to the
large and paying practice which has come to them
as a result of a knowledge upon the part of the
public that they constitute one of the strongest law
firms in the country. Added to unusual legal learn-
ing and superior capacity of mind, Judge Robertson
is a powerful, persuasive and elegant speaker, and
can sway judge and jury as it is not given to every
man to do.

In social life he is urbane and approachable, a
good friend and a good citizen, and is popular with
all classes of his fellow-citizens of Austin, among
whom he has passed many years of usefulness, and
to whose welfare and best interests he has at all times
shown himself to be devoted. In the prime of
intellectual and physical manhood, he has but
fairly started upon his life-work and there is scarcely
any distinction in his profession that he is not
capable of attaining. In addition to his success in
his profession he has been successful as a business
man and has accumulated a large property and
is now one of the largest property owners in the
city of Austin. No man in Texas enjoys more
fully the confidence of his neighbors than does
James H. Robertson.



The true heroes of America are those who from
time to time have left the comforts of civilized life
and, penetrating deep into the wilderness, have there
planted the seeds of new States. Of this number
was James Henry Mitchell, who came to Texas in
the infancy of the Republic and here passed the
greater part of a long and exceptionally active life.
Mr. Mitchell was born in Connersville, Tenn.,
October 22, 1817. His father was James Mitchell
and his mother bore the maiden name of Jane Mc-
Intyre Henry, both of whom were descendants of
early-settled American families of Scotch-Irish
origin. James Henry Mitchell was reared in his
native State and came thence in January, or Febru-
ary, 1837, to Texas, as a member of Capt. Griffin
Baines' company of volunteers which had been
raised in Tennessee for Texas frontier service.

Shortly after his arrival in this country, he re-en-
listed at old Tinnanville, Robertson County, in
Capt. Lee C. Smith's company, with which he
served for about a year. He then returned to
Tennessee but came again to Texas in the fall of
1838, when he again enlisted in the public service
as a member of a local company of " Minute Men,"
with which he was identified more or less during the
following year. In the meantime opposition to the
independence of Texas on the part of Mexico hav-
ing in a measure subsided and the troublesome
Indians having been put under control, the more
enterprising spirits of whom the subject of this
sketch may justly be reckoned as one, began to
turn their attention to the pursuits of peace. He
bought an interest in a general store at Old
Wheelock where for a year or more he did a profit-



able business trading with the settlers and Indians.
The attachment for his native State seems to have
been strong for about this time he made another
visit back to his old home, but returned in a few
months, reaching the country just in time to become
a member of the famous Snively Expedition with
which he was connected from its inception to its
inglorious end. He was in one other expedition of
a similiar nature about the same time which was
equally as fruitless in results.

Late in 1842, or early in 1843, Mr. Mitchell settled
at Old Springfield in Limestone County, where he
engaged in farming and afterwards in the mercan-
tile and hotel business. It was while residing at
that place in 1853 (February 3d) that he married
Miss Mary Herndon, who thereafter till the end of
his years on earth shared his joys and sorrows, and
who still survives him. Mrs. Mitchell was a daugh-
ter of Harry and Elizabeth Herndon and a native
of Kentucliy, having accompanied her parents to
Texas in early childhood. Mr. Mitchell resided
at Springfield for twenty-odd years, during which
time by thrift and industry he accumulated what for
the time was a very considerable amount of prop-
erty. The greater part of this, however, was lost
by the late war, and he left there for Bryan in
Brazos County in 1867 with but little more than
enough to establish himself in his new home and
meet his current expenses. During the war he ren-
dered to the Confederacy such service as was re-
quired at his hands (being past the age for military
duty) becoming agent for the government for the
collection and distribution of supplies, and assist-
ing, also, in the fortification of the Gulf coast
country against attack by the Federals. From
first to last he saw a great deal of service of a mili-
tary and quasi-military nature during his residence
in Texas, but he was very little in public life. To
his brother Harvey who at one time discharged the
duties of every office in Brazos County and was
more or less connected with public affairs in that
county for a number of years, this sort of service

seems to have fallen, James H. directing his atten-
tion chiefly to private pursuits when not actually in
the field under arms. Mr. Mitchell was a man of
an active, restless disposition in his early years,
and the habit of busying himself with something
clung to him down to the close of his life. He was
always employed at something and believed thor-
oughly in the philosophy of doing well what he
undertook to do. His last years were passed mostly
in retirement. He died at Bryan, March 12, 1885,
and his remains were buried at Old Boonville, in
Brazos County, where lie those of his father, mother
and other relatives. His widow, three sons and
four daughters, survive him. His sons, John Car-
son, James Henry, and Marsh, constituting the firm
of Mitchell Brothers, merchants at Wheelock, and
of the firm of Mitchell Bros. & Decherd, mer-
chants and bankers at Franklin, are among the
foremost business men of Robertson County,
and in every way worthy of the name they bear.

Two of the four daughters are married, the eldest,
Mrs. Samuel Downward, residing at Franklin, and
the second, Mrs. John T. Wyse, at Bryan, while the
single daughters, Jennie L. and Kate, with the eldest
son, who is also unmarried, make their home at

Mr. Mitchell was for many years in middle and
later life a member of the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows. He was reared in the Presbyterian
faith, but never actively identified himself with any
church organization. He was a man, however, of
broad views and generous impulses and would go
as far as any one to help a struggling fellow-mortal
or to further the cause of morality and good govern-
ment. He was a well-nigh perfect type of that
class of early Texians who were so well equipped
by nature for the life they lived and the services
they performed, being, of rugged constitution,
adequate courage, persevering energy, generous
hospitable, kind and faithful, with clear and well
defined convictions, sound judgment and honorable



A native of Germany, came to Texas in 1848,
landing at Galveston, November 2l8t of that year.
It was his intention to settle in Fisher and Miller's
Colony, but, on reaching Galveston, he learned

that the colony was not yet organized and aban-
doned that intention. He proceeded to Houston on
a Buffalo bayou steamer, accompanied by his four
sons and four daughters, who then constituted his




family, his wife liaving died in the old country.
His next move was to make a two weeks' prospect-
ing trip through Texas, rent a piece of land near
Eound Top, in Fayette County, and return for his
family. He found his sons had not been idle dur-
ing his absence but on the contrary had gone to
work, having secured employment on the streets of
Houston, where they were at work with pick and
shovel at $1.00 per day, payable in city scrip.
Mr. Groos made his first crop in Fayette County in
1849. He bought a tract of land of two hundred
and ten acres lying in the corner of Fayette
County the following year and there established a
permanent abode, where he resided until 1865,

when he removed to San Antonio and a little later
to New Braunfels, at which latter place he died in
1882, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.
At his death the four sons and four daughters, who
accompanied him to Texas, were all living and had
married. He had living at that time forty-five
grandchildren. Others have since been added to
the number and a score or more have attained their
majority. Some of them are heads of families and
all of them maintain a good standing as citizens in
the communities in which they live. The eldest of
the name now living is Mr. F. Groos, the banker
of San Antonio, who was also the eldest of the four
sons and four daughters who came over in 1848.



Robert Justus Kleberg (christened Johnun
Christian Justus Robert Kleberg), was born on the
10th day of September, A. D. 1803, in Herstelle,
Westphalia, in the former Kingdom of Prussia.
His parents were Lucas Kleberg, a prominent and
successful merchant, and Veronica Kleberg (nee
Meier) a lady of fine culture, sweet temper and
good sense. They moved from Herstelle to Beve-
rungen in Westphalia, where they were quite pros-
perous for a time. Besides Robert they had the
following children: Ernest, Louis, Joseph and
Banise. For a number of years Robert's parents,
living in afiluent circumstances, were permitted to
give their children good educational advantages,
but unhappily misfortune and death deprived the
children at an early age of kind parental protec-
tion, and the subject of this sketch was thrown upon
his own resources, which consisted chiefly of a
healthy mind and body, a strong will and unsullied
name. At an early age he entered the Gymnasium
of Holzminden, where after a five years' course in
the classics he completed his studies with high
honors. Choosing the law as his profession he now
entered the University of Goettingen, and in two
years and a half received his diploma as doctor
juris. Soon after he was appointed as one of the
justices of the assizes of Nirhiem, where he re-
mained one year, after which he was promoted to
various judicial positions, in which he prepared
himself for the practice of his profession, and in
which he served with credit and distinction.


In 1834 when he was about ready to enter upon
a distinguished judicial career, he concluded to
emigrate to the'United States. His reason for this
sudden and important change in his life can best be
found in his own language, which is taken from a
memorandum of his own writing : —

" I wished to live under a Republican form of
government, with unbounded personal, religious
and political liberty, free from the petty tyrannies,
the many disadvantages and evils of old countries.
Prussia, my former home, smarted at the time
under a military despotism. I was (and have
ever remained) an enthusiastic lover of republican
institutions, and I expected to find in Texas, above
all other countries, the blessed land of my most
fervent hopes."

Texas was yet partially unexplored, but the
reports that reached the old country were of the
most extravagant and romantic nature, and were
well calculated to enthuse the impulsive and
courageous spirit of the young referendary. The
ardor of his desires to emigrate was heightened
by a letter written by a Mr. Ernst, a German from
the Duchy of Oldenburg, who had emigrated to
Texas a few years previous, and who at that time
resided in what is now known as Industry, Austin
County, Texas. This letter recited the advantages
of Texas in the most glowing colors, comparing its
climate to the sunny skies of Italy ; it lauded the
fertility of the soil and spoke of the perennial flora
of the prairies of Texas, etc. About this time.



September the 4th, 1834, the subject of this sketch
married Miss Rosalia von Roeder, daughter of
Lieut. Ludwig Anton Siegmund von Roeder, the
head of an old family of nobility who, too, were
anxious for the same reasons to emigrate to
Texas. The party had first contemplated to emi-
grate to one of the Western States of the United
States, but it was now determined to go to Texas.
Again, the memorandum above referred to runs as
follows : —

" We changed our first intention to go to one of
the Western States, and chose Texas for our future
home. As soon as this was determined upon we
sent some of our party, to wit, three brothers of
my wife, unmarried, Louis, Albrecht and Joachim,
and their sister Valesca, and a servant by the name
of Pollhart, ahead of us to Texas for the purpose
of selecting a point where we could all meet and
commence operations.- They were well provided
with money, clothing, a light wagon and harness,
tools, and generally everything necessary to com-
mence a settlement. They aimed to go to Mr.
Ernst, the writer of the letter which induced us to go
to Texas. Six months after our party had left the
old country, and shortly after we had received the
news of their safe arrival, we followed on the
last day of September, A. D. 18S4, in the ship
'Congress,' Capt. J. Adams."

The party consisted of Robert Kleberg and wife,
Lieut. L. A. S. v. Roeder and wife, his daughters,
Louise and Caroline, his sons, Rudolph, Otto and
William v. Roeder, Louis Kleberg, Mrs. Otto v.
Roeder, nee Pauline von Donop and Miss Antoinette
von Donop (afterwards wife of Rudolph von
Roeder). The other passengers were nearly all
Germans from Oldenburg, and one of them was
the brother-in-law of Mr. Ernst. They were all
bound for the same point in Texas, and after a
voyage of sixty days landed in New Orleans.

The narrative of said memorandum here pro-
ceeds : —

" Here we heard very bad accounts about Texas,
and we were advised not to go to Texas, which it
was said was infested with robbers, murderers and
wild Indians. But we were determined to risk it,
and could not disappoint our friends who had pre-
ceded us. As soon, therefore, as we succeeded in
chartering the schooner ' Sabin,' about two weeks
after we landed in New Orleans, we sailed for
Brazoria, Texas. After a voyage of eight days we
wrecked off of Galveston Island, December 22d,
1834. The ' Sabin ' was an American craft of about
150 tons. The captain and crew left the island, I
think, in the steamer, ' Ocean.' The wreck was
sold in Brazoria at public auction and bought by a

gentleman who had come in the ' Ocean,' for thirty-
odd dollars. Perhaps she was not regularly
employed in the trade between New Orleans and
Texas, and was only put in order to get her wrecked
in order to get the amount for which she was
insured. This was the opinion of the passengers
at the time. It is impossible for me to name with
certainty the exact point of the island at which we
stranded, but I think it was not far from the center
of the island, about ten miles above the present site
of the city ; it was on the beach side. The island
was a perfect wilderness and inhabited only by
deer, wolves and rattlesnakes. All the passengers
were safely brought to shore, and were provided
with provisions, partly from those on board ship
and partly by the game on the island. Most of the
men were delighted with the climate on the island,
and the sport they enjoyed by hunting or fishing. A
committee of five was appointed to ascertain whether
we were on an island or on main land. After
an investigation of two days the committee reported
that we were on an island. The passengers then
went regularly into camp, saving all the goods and
provisions from the wrecked vessel, which was only
about fifty yards from shore. From the sails,
masts and beams they constructed a large tent,
with separate compartments for women and chil-
dren. Thus the passengers were temporarily pro-
tected against the inclemency of the weather. Two
or three days after our vessel had sunk the steamer
' Ocean ' hove in sight and, observing our signal of
distress, anchored opposite our camp and sent a
boat ashore with an officer to find out the situation.
The captain would not take all the passengers, but
consented to take a few, charging them a doubloon
each. I, with Rudolph v. Roeder, took passage on
the steamer, which was bound for Brazoria. I went
as agent of the remaining passengers to charter a
boat to take them and their plunder to the main
land. ' Finding no boat at Brazoria, or Bell's Land-
ing, the only Texas ports at that time, I proceeded
on foot to San Felipe, where I was told I would find
a small steamer, the ' Cuyuga,' Capt. W. Harris.
I found the steamer, but did not succeed in charter-
ing her, the price asked (|1,000) being too high.

" In San Felipe I heard for the first time of the
whereabouts of my relatives, who had preceded us.
Here I also formed the acquaintance of Col. Frank
Johnson and Capt. Mosely Baker, under whose
command I afterwards participated in the battle
of San Jacinto. These gentlemen informed me
that two of my friends, Louis and Albert von
Roeder, had located about fourteen miles from
San Felipe on a league and labor of land, but that
Joachim and Valesca von Roeder had died. We





found them in a miserable hut and in a pitiful con-
dition. They were emaciated by disease and want,
and without money. Tears of joy streamed from
their eyes when they beheld us. After a few days
rest I continued my errand to charter a boat. I
had a letter of introduction to Stephen F. Austin
and Sam Williams from a merchant in New
Orleans to whom our ship had been consigned,
which I presented to Mr. Austin's private secre-
tary, Mr. Austin and Mr. Williams being absent.
From him I received a letter of introduction to
Mr. Scott, the father-in-law of Mr. Williams.
From Mr. Scott I finally succeeded in chartering a
small vessel for $100.00 for three trips, and
immediately returned to Galveston, landing on the
bay side opposite the camp four weeks after I had
left it. I found the passengers of the old ' Sabin ' in
good health and spirits. They had spent their
time in hunting and fishing. Those who could not
shoot were employed to drive the deer to the
hunters. There were deer by the thousands. I
left the next day with the first cargo of passen-
gers, including my wife, her parents and Caroline
von Eoeder. After a stormy trip we arrived on
the evening of the same day at Mr. Scott's place,
where we were hospitably treated. The next day
we reached Harrisburg, where I succeeded in
renting a comfortable house, intending to remain
there until all the passengers had arrived from the
island. The last passengers did not arrive until
the winter of 1835, though had I hired another small
sloop from Capt. Smith in Velasco, which also
made three trips. The winter of 1835 was unusu-
ally severe."

This, it seems, ended the eventful and lengthy
voyage from the old country to Texas, of which
only the main incidents are given, to show the diffi-
culties and many privations to which Texas emi-
grants in those early days were subjected.

Robert Kleberg, by reason of his superior edu-
cation, was the only one among those early German
colonists who could make himself understood to
the few American pioneers who inhabited the
interior, and acted as spokesman for the rest.
Indian tribes, both savage and civil, swarmed
through the country, and it was necessary for the
colonists to explore and settle the country in com-
munities for self-defense. This condition of things
is apparent from the narrative, which relates : —

"To the place which had been settled upon by
Louis and Albrecht v. Eoeder we now repaired,
leaving the ladies and children in Harrisburg, under
the protection of one of the gentlemen. We had
formed a partnership with the view of assisting each
other to cultivate farms and build houses for each

head of a family in our party, and we were to work
in good earnest to break up land and fence it, and
to build houses, as it was our intention to move the
balance of our party from Harrisburg to our new
settlement as soon as we could erect houses, but
not being accustomed to manuallabor, we proceeded
very slowly. There was an Indian tribe, the
Kikapoos, encamped on our land about a mile from
our camp, who furnished us with game of all kinds,
which the country afforded in abundance. The
squaws were very useful to us, as they would hunt
and bring in camp our oxen and horses when they
strayed off. We rewarded them with ammunition
and trinkets, which we had brought with us for that

" We had supplied ourselves with everything nec-

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 55 of 135)