I recently found this letter that my mother transcribe years ago. I believe that the original is in the possession of one of our cousins, but don’t bet me on that. James, one of my great Uncles, is writing to a brother, (whom is not named), less than a year after the American Civil War ended. The letter also has him using the language of the time in reference to African Americans. I have left the gist of the word where it is found, because I am not going to ‘rewrite’ his words, but I will not spell them out.
I have included my own commentary, and snarky comments because I was in a mood.
Austin Texas Feb 21 1866
Our Texas State Convention met here on the 7th inst. I am a delegate from the counties of Burleson and Robertson. I have been absent at home a week and have just returned. Nancy came very near dying and sent after me but her symptoms change for the better before I got home. I staid[sp] a week and left her improving. The balance of my family and ____ are all well at our _____ _____. Our convention has as yet done but little except the Introduction of Resolutions which have generally been refered[sp] to the appropriate Standing Committees on the different functions of our State Constitution most of which will respond in a day or two. A great majority of our delegates are in favor of giving up all issues which have been decided by the late disastrous war and standing on the reconstruction policy of Andy Johnson as our last and only hope.
The poor n**** is in a worse fix than he was before the war, but that is a matter, not for us now to grieve over [he is grieving that he can no longer legally own slaves], but I hope the extremists [those who were against slavery, and didn’t like traitors who attack their fellow citizens] of both sections who are responsible for his nominal freedom will have his future comforts and happiness attended to. [James was not a big fan of people of color and their rights as human beings, see Slave Schedule below. In this letter he almost appears to show compassion for their plight after the war, he must have been drinking, or out late and was tired when he wrote this.]
There is now a great opening for industrious white men here who can be depended on to labor as but few people here have any confidence in free n***** labor. [You mean you miss slavery? Yeah great Uncle, you and your ilk started a ‘disastrous’ war over slavery. Remember? And now it’s over. You lost. No more slavery.]
Travis & Trump [really hated typing that word!] have hired 8 or 10 at from five to eight dollars per month and are going to try to make considerable cotton, as well as, corn on my place this year. How they will succeed under the new system of n**** labor time alone can determine. [Yeah, that must really suck that you have to pay your laborers now and they have rights.]
So far they are doing admirable, but I fear when hot weather sets in the n**** will fag [tire]. [No shit Uncle, no one likes working long hours in the hot effin’ sun. Not even industrious white men.]
Our Convention is a compound of different elements, Secessionists, Unionists, Confederate and Federal Generals in the late war. I think however they will harmonize as well as could be expected under the current circumstance.
I am boarding at my brother-in-law’s at 6 Raymond they are all well. Write me a long letter and direct to my usual place Texington, Burleson Co[unty] as I expect we will adjourn in two or three weeks. Your note on my letter to John telling him that “if he had looked ahead of him on Sunday or behind him on Monday evening he might have seen his brother George in the 5th Ohio Cavalry” plagues him considerably. He say he’ll be damned if he _____on Monday evening.
Give my best love to all especially to my good old mother. [His mother is Nancy Morin Shaw, wife of John Shaw.]
Old Uncle Jeminy Shaw [possibly James Joseph Shaw] is still living and as wicked as ever. He was very much opposed to the late war and says that the _____ _____ or their descendants of the Old Revolution brought it on.
Yours affection James Shaw
As promised here are the US Federal Slave Schedule entries for James.
James in the 1850 Slave Schedule for Texas. Here he owns 11 slaves. The information has been water damaged, so I can’t read the details, just his name.
Here he is in the 1860 Texas Slave Schedule. He owns 4 slaves: 2 males 1-36 years old and 1-12 years old 2 females 1-36 years old and 1-25 years old (she is Mulatto) 1 slave house.
James was a Confederate sympathizer, and one of his sons died as a Confederate soldier during the war. To be honest I am not a fan of James. I believe in none of the thing that he did, and do not respect his decision to back the Confederate traitors’ cause.
I guess that this makes the point that folks in the same family can have totally different beliefs from each other. No one in my Shaw family ever owned slaves. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t racists, but at least they didn’t own people.
Charlotte Hatch is my great grandmother. I have vague recollections of meeting her in the early ’70s after we had moved back stateside from overseas. Mom, (as she was known by close family), along with a couple of other folks, probably including her daughter Evelyn, drove up from Ohio to visit at the time. Unfortunately I was too young for the visit to have made much of an impression, but hopefully by telling a bit of her story I can make up for that.
Charlotte was born in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio on October 10, 1888. She was the daughter of Dillon Franklin Hatch and Almira Brooks and the youngest of their four children. But she only knew one sister and one brother growing up, the eldest son, Harry Douglas, had died at the age of 9 while the family was still living in Vermont.
Her father Dillon was the supervisor of a furniture factory which left the Hatch family comfortably well off. The couple used their good fortune to make sure their children received a well-rounded education, including music lessons. Charlotte learned to play the violin, and possibly the piano. She appeared in the local paper a multitude of times regarding some musical or singing performance, or sometimes simply as part of the local social gossip.
1906-05-13, Sunday, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), page 54 (GenealogyBank.com>newspaperarchives) Social News of the Week Miss Helen Roblee of 9812 Lamont Ave., N. E., entertained five of her friends at an apple blossom luncheon on Monday. The guests were the Misses Mary Fitzpatrick, Helen Whitslar, Charlotte Hatch, Nina Smith and Hazel Lane.
1908-04-14, Tuesday, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), page 7 (GenealogyBank>newspaperarchive): In Society Miss Belle C. Hart gave the second of her series of parlor recitals Saturday afternoon at 111424 Mayfield-rd., S. E. Those taking part were Lois Runge, Charlotte Hatch, Elliott Stearns, Harold Huhne, William Fristoe, Carl Patton and Numan Squire assisted by Miss Olive Harris, Miss Lilian Aokley and Miss Anita Runge, accompanists.
1908-12-27, Sunday, Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), page 24 (GenealogyBank>newspaperarchive): Music and Musicians Music in the Y.W.C.A. The musical organizations of the Y.W.C.A. have been considered important enough to be given a department of their own, with a committee voted entirely to their interests.
The members of the music committee…are most enthusiastic, and want to do all in their power to see this new department become a center of helpfulness and joy and inspiration. Most excellent work was done last year in laying the foundation of these organizations, and they have already become indispensable. In the coming year they ought to grow rapidly in numbers and efficiency.
The orchestra is doing splendid work under the directions of Miss Belle C. Hart. On Monday evenings its twenty members meet for practice at the association building, where they have a most enjoyable time. The members are:
First violins…Miss Charlotte Hatch…
Charlotte attended East High School in Cleveland, and graduated in 1908.
Less than a year after graduating from high school, Charlotte, at the age of 20, was married to a young man by the name of Montral Goble Shaw March 8, 1909.
While putting together timelines and mapping out Charlotte and Mont’s lives, something immediately stands out — Montral Shaw and his family were from Clermont County, Ohio which is clear down at the bottom of the state, as opposed to Charlotte’s stomping ground in Cuyohoga County, which is at the top. How on earth did these two people, from such distance challenged places, meet. Thankfully, because I do research on siblings and not just my direct lines, the answer to the question became clear. Charlotte’s brother Herbert attended Denison School, which is located in Licking County, as did Mont and even Mont’s sister Viola Shaw, all at about the same time (1900-1904ish).
So it is quite possible that Herb and Mont met at Denison and became friends. Maybe Mont came home with Herbert for a visit during a holiday or break, saw Charlotte, and ‘POW’ it was love at first sight! (Although they wouldn’t be married until a few years later.)
So now these two young newlyweds began to make a life together. And a year later, in May of 1910, Charlotte and her husband are found renting a farm in Jackson County, Ohio. Mont was supporting his wife as a fruit farm orchidist, while Charlotte was learning how to manage her new home. She was also preparing herself for the birth of their first child, Evelyn, who would be born in three months time. She must have been nervous, excited, and also anxious because her mother was very far away, and this would be a time that a daughter would want her mother around. Maybe her mother took a trip down to Lick Township, around the time Charlotte was due, to help her first grandchild come into the world.
Charlotte with her son John. Montral[?] is standing in the shed/barn. This picture was taken about 1913/1914.
After living in Jackson County for only a few years, they packed up their household goods and moved up north to Huntsburg Township in Geauga County where we find them by 1913, according to the birth of their second child John. Here they bought a farm which they owned until December of 1920 at which time they sold the farm and moved to Texas.
Above are the deeds for both when they bought 60 acres of property in Jackson County in 1915, and when they sold the same property in 1920 in preparation to moving to Texas.
When the railroad line was introduced in Cameron County, Texas a large land boom began taking place. (This is about as far south as you can get in Texas, without being in Mexico or the ocean). Agents from the area went out hawking all the great land deals to farmers in the midwest in order to bring new blood, and white people, into the area. There were even special trains being used to bring these new land owners to town. It sounds like Montral’s brother Norman heard about this great deal, proceeded to buy land, sight unseen, then convinced his brother and Charlotte to pack up their household belongings, and now five children, and come with him.
Here is the story as told by my grandmother Lois, who was only 9 months old when they made this trip:
It was December of 1920 – I was 9 months old, the farm had been sold and a new overland touring car purchased. It was loaded with the five children Evelyn 10, John 11, Margaret 6, Gertrude 4, and me 9 mo., Mom and Pop and the basic necessities of travel for a trip to the Rio Grand Valley in southern Texas.
Now in 1920, traveling more than 2000 miles over the highways of the day was not an adventure for the timid. My knowledge of the trip is strictly from the recounts in bits and pieces heard as I grew up. Pop loved to tell the tale with pleasure in the memories, while Mom sarcastically set him straight with the details of the discomfort and misadventures. She always hated Texas!
The reason for this safari was to farm a piece of land in the Rio Grand near Mercedes, Texas which Pop’s brother, Uncle Norman had bought sight unseen.
On the trip down I was awarded the top seat in the Overland a laundry basket made into a bassinet. I’m sure I was held on laps too, but I wonder if the trip created my fear in cars that lasted thru many years of travel all over as an air force wife. They called me a back seat driver when I was 4 & 5 years old. There were floods in Arkansas on the way down and Pop stripped the gears on the Overland and Mom and us children were put on a train for Little Rock, where Pop rejoined us after repairs were made.
Why Uncle Norman, an intelligent person I had always assumed, would buy land sight unseen and then let his younger brother make such a trip, I’ll never know.1
When the family arrived in Mercedes they found the land Uncle Norman had purchased had no water available – so they rented some land that did. It raised great truck crops but seems they couldn’t sell much as they couldn’t ship it north for some reason. The second year they were able with the other farms in the area to send a shipment of tomatoes north, 2000 bushels. A neighbor went with the shipment and evidently skipped with the money.”
Things did not work out as planned. Two years later they moved back to Ohio, leaving everything behind to be shipped. Pop sent money for shipping, but their things were never sent. Winter was coming on, and they had no winter clothes. John H and Evelyn [the two eldest children] lived with John and Sally Shaw in New Richmond for about two years (1922-1923) Pop and Mom moved to Westerville Jersey Farm in 1923 and the family was reunited.
Life in Texas was very unpleasant for Charlotte, especially when she developed malaria. So she would have been very relieved to be heading back to Ohio in 1922, where the weather was milder and the scorpions and malaria were non-existent.
By 1923 the family is back in Ohio, reunited, and living in Westerville, Delaware County (see Ohio map above), trying to get themselves back on their feet. Charlotte was also pregnant with their sixth child.
Nancy Jean was born 5 Feb 1924, but sadly she didn’t live long past her 1st birthday, as she died on the 21st of Mar in 1925. She was the only child of Charlotte’s who died young. They had one last child, Mary Ellen, who was born when Charlotte was 43 years old.
Charlotte was the practical one in their marriage. Like most domestic goddesses, she did the majority of the work: raising the children, taking care of their home, feeding everyone, doing all the laundry, managing, etc. Most of her life the cooking was done on a stove that was heated using wood and coal. Laundry was done in a tub with a washboard.
And while the life was hard and sometimes exhausting, Charlotte always let her children know that she actually enjoyed living on the farm much better than in a city.
Lois — “She liked to bake – always seemed to have cookies on hand – and made ice cream in refrigerator, which tasted like heaven to us kids. She passed on her mint-making skills to her granddaughter and namesake. Charlotte!”
Lois remembering her parents:
Pop seemed always the optimist, living from his dreams perhaps as much as his labors. A mischievous eye, finding joy in so much of life, loving to tell stories of people and events which we heard over and over but didn’t mind as he greatly enjoyed the telling. Mom, the realist, was more pesimistic she had to deal with the numerous tasks of each day, ending in weariness, I’m sure.
When we girls would be dressed up for some occasion he would say “you look very nice, but you will never be as pretty as your Mother”. This never hurt our feelings as by then Mom had gained quite a bit of weight and as we had little money she had no fancy clothes. I’m sure it boosted her ego a little. And she was very pretty before she became so tired and worn. Later when she could afford to go to the hair dresser she looked much prettier and had nicer clothes. She came from a city family and though not rich they had two “hired girls” in those days.
According to their daughter Lois, Charlotte and Mont made another move in 1947. The move kept them in the same county, but their address was now in Powell.
Early in 1947 they bought the farm at Powell, Ohio, in partnership with John and Bertha Shaw. There was a big apple orchard, and many a fall day was spent by the grandchildren in picking up apples for cider. Then the aunts, uncles and cousins would come to make applebutter. The children picked up apples, the women sat in the kitchen peeling, and the men “stirred” the applebutter, while drinking the cider (they had all the fun!)
Charlotte and Montral continued to live and work on their farm in Powell for many more years. Montral passed away in 1976 leaving everything including the farm to Charlotte. He was 90 when he died. Charlotte went on for another 8 years before she died in 1984 at the age of 95.
Her last letter to her daughter Lois was written August 14 of 1984 and talked about the mundane bits of everyday life, including the problems she was having with her current crochet project. Two weeks later she passed away. (I wonder if she was able to finish her afghan.)
Of Centerburg Charlotte H. Shaw Charlotte H. Shaw, 95, of Centerburg, died Aug. 31 at St. Ann’s Hospital.
She was a member of the Centerburg United Methodist Church.
Mrs. Shaw was preceded in death by her husband, Mont G. Shaw; two daughters, Evelyn Nevitt and Nancy Jean Shaw; a brother, Herbery Hatch; and a sister, Frances Herterprime.
She is survived by one son, John H. Shaw, Centerburg; four daughters, Mrs. Margaret Bevelhymer, and Mrs. Gertrude Van Tassell, Westerville; Mrs. Lois Shephard, West Bath, ME; and Mrs. Mary Ellen Adkins, Lucasville; 22 grandchildren, four step-grandchildren; 44 great grand-children; and seven great-great grandchildren.
The funeral service was Sept. 4 in Centerburg with Rev. Mac Kelly officiating. Burial was in Eastview Cemetery, Centerburg.
1 (Uncle Norman [Ewing Shaw] served as Secretary of the State of Ohio for several years under both Democrats and Republicans, he was a Democrat, He was killed in an auto accident in 1930 at 54 years of age. Rockhouse State park in Hocking County Ohio is dedicated to him for his conservation policies. Editor of Ohio Farmer Magazine.)
I mentioned James Shaw in a previous post in regards to his son Franklin being killed during the civil war, but recently while doing some newspaper research I found this great obituary for James in the Galveston Daily News, so I thought I would spend a little time researching his life. The obituary did bring to light the fact that most online trees have his death date wrong. James Shaw died February 10, 1880, his obituary was in the paper Friday of the same week. Everyone else on-line has February 24, 1879, probably taken from his headstone. [Note to researchers, headstones can be wrong.] James Shaw is my 4x great uncle.
According to one of his biographies written by a descendant, James was a surveyor and a teacher who left Ohio in 1833 taking passage on a steamboat heading to New Orleans, his intent was to go to Texas. However, he stopped in Mississippi and taught school for a few years. In 1835 he headed to Texas through the Robertson Colony on the Brazos. He served in the military until 1836, at which point he started his homestead at String Prairie, on land he received as a reward for his military service. Which is also the location of a historical marker in Texas [#8157 Indian Camp Branch which is located on an old buffalo trail. It was named by James to honor the hospitality of a band of friendly Tonkawa he encountered near the site in 1837.] He is also said to have been appointed to treat with the local Indians because he could speak all the dialects.
After establishing his new home, James headed to Missouri to marry his childhood sweetheart, Nancy Ann Riggs. And when they returned to Texas he opened the first school in the area. He was appointed postmaster in 1849, where their home also served as the first post office in the area. He surveyed and laid out the town of Lexington and was instrumental in helping to get the name changed in 1850 from String Prairie to Lexington, after the town in Massachusetts.
I thought I would transcribe his obituary where they also included a letter that James had written correcting errors from a published history of Texas.
Hon. James Shaw.
This veteran hero and statesman of Texas died at his home, near Lexington, Lee County, on Tuesday, of pneumonia, at the ripe age of 72. He was among the volunteers who came to the aid of the people of Texas in their struggle against the Mexican tyrant Santa Anna in November, 1835, and participated in the battle of San Jacinto, which ended in the overthrow and capture of the tyrant, and the destruction of one-half and the capture of the other half of his army. He came from Ohio by steamboat to Natchitoches, and from thence on horseback to San Felipe. Falling in on the road with several other Texas volunteers, they thought it advisable to go to headquarters before joining any company, and accordingly came to San Felipe, where the consultation was in session. The night they arrived there news was received of the capture of San Antonio by Col. “Frank” Johnson. Of subsequent events, Mr. Shaw himself wrote in a letter to the NEWS (in correcting some errors in Thrall’s History of Texas) on the 8th of December, 1879:
“A good many of the citizens looked upon the war as being over, and that we had come too late, which rather hurt our feelings, and some of our number intended to return forthwith without “immortal honors.” Gen. Houston, however, who was a member of the “consultation” hearing that we intended to return, came out and gave us a talk. He told us to remain in the country; that there would be plenty of agitating to do by spring; that Santa Anna would not give up Texas for that little fight at San Antonio, and advised us to go up into Robertson’s colony, above the old San Antonio road, on a buffalo hunt. Three or four of our number took his advice and came up into Robertson’s colony, and joined Capt. Thos. A. Graves (Robertson’s colony surveyor) and went out on Little river, San Gabriel and Brushy creeks on a surveying and buffalo hunting expedition. After having been in the woods some five or six weeks, the Indians, who had been watching us all the time, came upon us in large force just before day, killed two of our number, and severely wounded two, I and M. B. Shackleford being the wounded, and a Mr. Drake from North Carolina, and a negro man belonging to Maj. Holtzclaw, of Tennessee, the killed. There were then eight of our crowd left– two wounded; four of the crowd deserted us and scattered. Maj. Holtzclaw and Lemuel Moore (to who’s now departed spirits I shall always feel grateful for my life,) remained faithful to the wounded, and helped us into New Nashville, a fort on the Brazos, where the International railroad now crosses the river. After our arrival into the settlements all was confusion and excitement– the rumor was that Santa Ana was advancing with 30,000 soldiers. After a remarkably dry winter the flood gates of heaven has been opened, and every stream was overflowed. The Brazos River was 6 miles wide from Hilton Hill. After having rafted all the families over the Brazos, it was rumored that Gen. Houston had left Groce’s Retreat (where he had been encamped for some time), to intercept Santa Anna, across the Brazos River below with some 800 troops. I, Ben McCulloch, Tom Dunham and Tom Greer, (a brother of old Elick, once vice president), rafted the Brazos, and made our way for Gen. Houston’s army. We overtook him in the boggy prairie, the evening he arrived at Harrisburg, 18 April; my three comrades joined the artillery company and I, a cavalry company commanded by Capt. William H. Smith, not being able for foot service from my Indian wound. I was in two skirmishes on the 20th, commanded by Col. Sherman, and on the 21st first by Col. M.B. Lamar. After the battle, and treaty made, I was one of the 80 men commanded by Col. Ed. Burleson, who was detailed to follow the Mexican forces across the Nueces to see that the treaty made and agreed-upon was faithfully carried out; from thence we were ordered up to San Antonio, where our command remained until discharged in the winter of 1836. I served five years in the Congress of the Republic– two regular sessions in the House and three in the Senate, from 1838 up to 1844–and in the state legislature every session (with the exception of one, 1850-51 years), from 1846 up to 1856.”
Mr. Shaw was not only a man greatly esteemed and trusted by his constituents, but an intelligent and honest legislator, above all the intrigues of trafficking politicians, and following his own convictions, without regard to party. He closes the long though hasty letter quoted above in the following characteristic way:
“I am now in my 72nd year, and will soon be an old man. I always go to the Jackson Democratic ticket up to the late disastrous war. I voted an open ticket against the secession in 1861, believing that it would finally end in our subjugation and the freedom of the “n****r.”[let’s say slaves. So he was for slavery? Hard to tell the way it is written, but it sounds like he voted to not succeed, because he believed they would end up having to kowtow to the North and free the slaves.] Since which time, when the fire-eating Calhoun democracy got in the lead in Texas, I have taken but little interest in politics except in voting for what I thought to be the best man without regard to parties. I am not a radical, neither am I a greenbacker, but I am waiting patiently for”something to turn up.” I am now satisfied that it would be sometime before the president will be elected under the name Democrat. Had not the fire-eating portion of the democracy, at the last call session of Congress played h–ll with the democracy, a conservative Democrat, such as Gen. Hancock, Bayard or Seymour might have stood some chance of election, but now, I fear there is none.” James Shaw.
The surviving family of the deceased consists of his son, Hon. Travis Shaw, of Lee County; Mrs. Sophronia Douglas, wife of Isaac Douglas; his (Mr. Shaw’s) second wife, and her young son. Deceased had accumulated a large number of valuable papers connected with the early history of Texas, the use of which the NEWS expects to enjoy in collating facts in regard to the policy and events connected with the rise and progress of Texas as a Republic and state of the American union.1
Later in the year that he died, 1880, the paper published James letter that he had written in regards to the Thrall History of Texas, with other details:
Thrall’s History of Texas.
The following letter is written by that well-known Texas soldier and Legislature, Hon. James Shaw, but a short time before his death:
“Lexington, Lee County, December 8, 1870. –in reviewing the lead history of Texas, by Mr. H. S. Thrall, I find the most correct history of Texas now extant. Some few inaccuracies, however, occur, particularly in relation to myself. In his biographical sketches he says: “James Shaw came to Texas, in Schooner Hope, in 1831; he was in the Texas Congress in 1841 – 42, and the legislature in 1853, and now lives in Burleson County.” For the purpose of correcting history, and not for any egoism in relation to myself, I will give you a correct statement of my advent into Texas.
Mr. thralls gives a very accurate account of the battle of San Jacinto, and Gen. Houston’s conversation with Santa Ana. I think I ought to know, as I heard every word spoken between them. He, however, in his history of the Somervell campaign, in 1842, does, in my opinion, Gen. Houston great injustice. He says: “It has been conjectured that Pres. Houston never intended an aggressive movement against Mexico, and the Somervell acted under secret orders in disbanding his men,” etc. I enter emphatically that Pres. Houston never did intend an “aggressive movement against Mexico”; neither did the Congress of the Republic intend it. When Houston was inaugurated second term, on 13 December, 1841, I was Sen., representing the Counties of Milam, Robertson and Leon. After our adjournment at Austin, in the spring of 1842, present Houston went to Alabama and married. When he returns to Texas, with his worthy prize, “the Mexican raids under Vasquez and Wall had awaken the martial spirit in Texas.” The country was highly excited, and appeared to be strongly in favor of carrying the war into Mexico. Houston, however, would not shoulder the responsibility of so dangerous a movement; but called Congress to meet in Houston in the summer of 1842 to deliberate on the matter.
Accordingly, a bill was introduced into the house, and passed by some 10 majority for an aggressive movement against Mexico. It also passed the Senate by one majority. Houston vetoed the bill, and after his veto message was read in the House, his argument against the measure were so overpowering that many members who voted for the bill voted against it, and instead of having a two thirds majority to pass the bill they scarcely had a majority. After the bill was defeated Houston ordered Somervell to fall back from the Rio Grand. Somervell obeyed orders, and most of these law-abiding men– such as John Hemphill, William G. Cook, J.H. Herndon, M. Austin Bryant, J.D. Robertson, Tom Green, Ben McCulloch, and many others–obeyed their general, and marched back in accordance with the president’s orders.
Some two or three hundred discontented spirits thought it best not to obey orders, called for volunteers and elected William S. Fisher commander, and started to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico to gain “immortal honors” before they returned to Texas. Accordingly a few days thereafter, they met with a disastrous defeat at Mier, had some 16 killed 20 wounded; the balance, some 200, surrendered, were chained together, and started for Mexico, and on their way they need made attempt to regain their liberty. They overpowered their guards and started for home, but 173 were recaptured and every 10th man shot (which was 17 out of the 173), by order of Santa Ana; and everyone of them would have shared the same fate if Santa Anna had known that they crossed the Rio Grande, contrary to the orders of our president. To save the lives of these poor prisoners, although they had crossed the Rio Grande contrary to orders, Pres. Houston magnanimously held out the idea to Santa Anna that they had crossed in obedience to orders, and finally, through his great influence with Santa Anna, after nearly 2 years confinement, they were released and sent home.” James Shaw2
Another newspaper article from 1860 indicates that James and Sam Houston didn’t always agree politically:
We see that James Shaw, of Burleson County, is hoisted by the “Organ” here for treasurer…a respectable planter in Burleson County. It is the same Capt. James Shaw who ran for state senator last year, prepared a circular which was intended to be printed at the State Gazette office taking strong political ground against Sam Houston. It is the same Capt. James Shaw, of Burleson, who relates that while in the state of Ohio in 1857, when the news of the election of H. R. Runnels, to the office of governor, reached there, amid the rejoicing of Democrats and the disappointment of the Black Republicans, the latter had prepared to make a grand demonstration in favor of Sam Houston, had he been elected.
It is the same Capt. James Shaw of Burleson County, whom the “Organ” here presents to the Houston party for their support, who was a fellow soldier with Sam Houston at San Jacinto, but who it is said, never endorsed his course on that battlefield. It is evident that either Capt. Shaw or Gov. Houston has in quite a short period changed very much in their views of each other.3
James was heavily involved in the early days of Texas becoming a state and his politics appear to have been that of conservative Democrat. Which today would be a conservative Republican.
SHAW, James, San Jacinto hero, was born in Clermont County, Ohio, August 8, 1808…In 1838, James Shaw began is career as a Congressman. Representing Milam County in the House of the Third (1838-1839) and Fifth (1840-1841) Congresses, he returned to the Sixth as Senator from Milam and Robertson. In the Seventh and eighth, 1842-44, he held the same office. After Annexation, Shaw served one term in the legislature, the Second, 1847-1848, as Representative from Milam…4
More can be found on James in Alvy Ray Smith’s publication Elder Bethuel Riggs of Morris County, New Jersey, and His Family.
The Galveston Daily News. (Galveston, Tex.), Vol. 38, No. 281, Ed. 1 Friday, February 13, 1880, newspaper, February 13, 1880; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth465187/m1/2/: accessed February 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu
The Civil War in the United States was a tragedy of huge proportions for the citizens of this country. So many lives lost because of misplaced southern pride in outdated and appalling views on ownership, ‘states rights’ and slavery.
James Shaw, born Ohio in 1808, was an older brother of my ggg grandfather the Hon. John Shaw. By the early 1830s James decided to try his fortunes in Texas and moved his family to what is now Milam County. He had married one of the Riggs girls and had several children with her. One of those children was a son, Frank Shaw.
James embraced being a Texian wholeheartedly, even joining the military when they were fighting Santa Anna. He was in the decisive battle of San Jacinto that was one of the determining factors in the future of Texas as a state.
Sometime after the civil war started James’ son Frank, feeling the fever of youthful righteousness in a cause, joined up. On the side of the South. This decision had the unfortunate effect of ending Frank’s young life quite abruptly. His father wrote this letter to the paper, mostly likely as a way to help himself work through his grief:
A PIECE OF SAVAGE BARBARISM
Permit me through the columns of your weekly paper, to make known to the civilized world and to Texian soldiers in particular, the death of my unfortunate son, Frank Shaw, a native Texian, who was brutally murdered by Federal troops in Louisiana, on the 3d day of November last. The circumstances are substantially as follows: My son was Orderly Sergeant in Captain Waterhouse’s Company, Lane’s Regiment, Majors’ Brigade of Cavalry. In the morning of the Borbeaux battle, his (Waterhouse’s) and Johnston’s companies, who had been on picket, a mile from the Federals encampment, marched up to a bridge on Bayou Borbeaux fronting the Federals, and were ordered to dismount and take trees. My son with two or three others, seeing a good position across the bayou, some eight or ten steps in advance of our line, ran to it, and after having fired three or four rounds each, the order was given to fall back to their horses, who having further to run by being in advance, they were captured before they got back.
At this critical moment Gen. Green and Majors came dashing up at the head of their victorious columns from the right, and repulsed the enemy, who after having taken my son some four hundred yards, fearing his recapture, brutally and inhumanly murdered him by shooting him in the head with a pistol!
I have not written this account hastily and from the impulse of the moment; but have waited patiently for the last four or five weeks hoping the first account of this sad affair which I received from my nephew, A. P. Perkins, might possibly prove incorrect as I could not believe, that there was a nation on the face of God’s habitable Globe, especially one professing to be foremost in civilization and Christianity, that would have acted so barbarously: notwithstanding the poet has long since said:
“But look for ruin when a coward wins, For fear and cruelty were ever twins.”
My son had met them honorably previously on many battle fields. Mr. James Holland, a member of the same company, has lately arrived at my house, with his horse and baggage. He was taken prisoner a short time previous to my son; but he saw while in New Orleans, before his escape, the prisoners who were captured with him, with whom he was well acquainted, and they informed him that they saw Frank shot in the cowardly manner described above, and for the only reason, that his feeble health would not permit him to keep up afoot, with their retreating cavalry.
I have been thus particular in detailing facts for this purpose of making it publicly known to our brave Texian troops in the field, that these same thieves and murderers under Gen. Banks, are now polluting our Southern borders with their unwelcome presence, and I now leave it with them to decide whether or not, so cowardly and dastardly an enemy deserved the treatment of a brave and magnanimous foe?
Lexington, Jan. 13, 1864.1
There is no getting around the fact that war is an ugly and violent affair no matter how you look at it and Frank was a casualty of that ugliness. The manner of his death, if accurately reported (remember we only have one version of what happened), is unfortunate and it is understandable that James’ view will be prejudiced. In my, admittedly prejudiced, mind his son was fighting to preserve slavery under the misguided guise of state’s rights. Where was the honor in that? But the fact is, one side had no more claim to honor and heroism than another, as both the North and the South committed acts of barbarism, compassion, and heroism at many times during the war.
1 Published in the [Texas] Galveston Gazette, January 13, 1864.