The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

Biography of 122413 George Campbell Childress
by Colonel William Curry Harlee

[122413] George Campbell Childress, author of the Texas Declaration of Independence, exercised an important role in the convention of "Delegates of the People of Texas" which proclaimed "that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended: and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free sovereign and independent republic."

The outline here given of notable parts played by him in that convention is extracted from a series of articles, "The Committee of the Texas Declaration of Independence" by James K. Greer, published in The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Austin, Texas, in its issues of April, July, and October 1927. Those articles are well documented with references (omitted here) to support the information stated.

The convention of delegates from the municipalities, as the political districts were then called, of that part of what had recently been the "Estado Libre de Coahuila y Tejas" of Mexico and had more recently, in 1835, organized a provisional government of a new state, Texas, of Mexico, met at Washington Texas, 1 Mar 1836. [122413] George C. Childress and his uncle [12243] Sterling C. Robertson...were the delegates from the municipality of Viesca (renamed Milam by the first Congress of Texas which convened that year).

When the convention met it was called to order by Childress, and then proceeded to organize. Early in its first day's session Childress introduced the following resolution: "Resolved that the President appoint a committee to consist of five delegates to draft a Declaration of Independence." The resolution passed. Childress was appointed member and chairman of the committee.

The following day, 2 Mar 1836, "Mr. Childress, from the Committee, reported a Declaration of Independence which he read in his place. It was received by the house, committed to 'a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, and unanimously adopted, in less than one hour from its first and only reading."

The next day, 3 Mar 1836. an engrossed copy was read, and then signed by all the members present and later by several members who had not then arrived. That document is now in the custody of the Secretary of State in the capitol at Austin.

The original draft by Childress has disappeared.

...The handwriting of Childress indicates that he did not specialize in penmanship which is probably one reason why the official and signed document of the Texas Declaration of Independence was a copy made by an engrossing clerk.

OTHER NOTABLE ACTION IN THE CONVENTION

Childress participated extensively in other proceedings of the convention. One of his motions was for prevention of slave trade in the republic, another that "a single star of five points, either of gold or silver, be adopted as the peculiar emblem of this republic."

From Journal of the Convention, now in State Library, Austin, Texas, File 492, Archives:

Following the report of the Committee on drafting a Constitution, Mr. Childress introduced the following preamble and proviso: "Whereas the African slave trade being abhorrent to the laws of God and the feeling of all civilized nations, the encouragement of such inhuman traffic shall be made piracy by the laws of the land, and all persons legally convicted before the legitimate tribunals, of being hereafter engaged in it, either directly, by capturing Africans, or purchasing them out of slave ships, or knowingly from those who may have previously bought them, shall suffer the punishment of death, and such captured persons to be disposed of in such manner as may be hereafter prescribed by Congress. Provided, That this article shall not be construed to prohibit emigrants from bringing their slaves into the country, and that no free people of color shall ever be admitted to reside in the republic after the ratification of this Constitution" The resolution was referred to the Committee to draft the Constitution.

Mr. Childress introduced the following resolution:

"Resolved that a single star of five points, either of gold or silver, be adopted as the peculiar emblem of this republic; and that every officer and soldier of the army and members of this convention, and all friends of Texas, be requested to wear it on their hats or bosoms," which was adopted.

TEXAS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

The Texas Declaration of Independence evidences high attainments of its author. Inasmuch as copy of it may not be available in many libraries a copy here follows.

The Unanimous

Declaration of Independence

made by the

Delegates of the People of Texas

in General Convention

at the Town of Washington

on the 2nd day of March 1836

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression. When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants. When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet. When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America. In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior.

We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Richard Ellis, President
of the Convention and Delegate
from Red River
James Collinsworth
Edwin Waller
Asa Brigham
Geo. C. Childress
Bailey Hardeman
Rob. Potter
John S. D. Byrom
Thomas Jefferson Rusk
Francis Ruis
Chas. S. Taylor
J. Antonio Navarro
John S. Roberts
Jesse B. Badgett
Robert Hamilton
Wm D. Lacy
Collin McKinney
William Menifee
Albert H. Latimer
Jn. Fisher
James Power
Matthew Caldwell
Sam Houston
William Motley
David Thomas
Lorenzo de Zavala
Edwd. Conrad
Stephen H. Everett
Martin Parmer
George W. Smyth
Edwin O. Legrand
Elijah Stapp
Stephen W. Blount
Claiborne West
Jms. Gaines
Wm. B. Scates
Wm. Clark, Jr.
M. B. Menard
Sydney O. Pennington
A. B. Hardin
Wm. Carrol Crawford
J. W. Burton
Jno. Turner
Thos. J. Gazley
Benj. Briggs Goodrich
R. M. Coleman
G. W. Barnett
Sterling C. Robertson
James G. Swisher
Jesse Grimes
S. Rhoads Fisher
John W. Moore
John W. Bower
Saml. A. Maverick (from Bejar)
Sam P. Carson
A. Briscoe
J. B. Woods
H. S. Kimble, Secretary

ONE OF HIS LETTERS

One of his letters to his uncle, [12243] Sterling C. Robertson..., was preserved by the latter's only son [122431] whose daughter, [122431D] Mrs. Lela Robertson..., made it available for the preparation of the facsimile herein shown.

The part where its date was probably written has crumbled away. It was written about 1839. He was then in Houston, Texas, where the letter was written and was about to leave on a trip to New Orleans, La., and perhaps to Nashville. Tenn., where he is known to have been for a visit in the winter and early spring of 1839-40.

Copy of Letter

Houston T(exas) (torn)

Dear Sir:

I recd yesterday your le(tter) and the Deeds by Washington. I shall (get) off to New Orleans, I think by the next boat, the Cuba. I applied to Col. (name illegible) for the Deed; he was not at home but his brother seemed unwilling to give it up; but I have hopes of getting it when the Col. returns. I shall get off to New Orleans I think in the next boat-and if I can make a sale there for you at all will be able to do so in a day or two after my arrival.

I send by Washington the garden seed and shoes you sent for, and also the balance of the Ten Dollar note after paying for them, and if I succeed in making a sale for you in the United States will send you the clothing and groceries mentioned in your letter. We have nothing new since you left here please present my respects to Mr. Flury & Louisa.

Yours &c &c
Geo. C. Childress.
Col. S. C. Robertson. (over)

[On the reverse side]

P. S. I send by Washn the shoes which cost
$4
.50
Half bushel very supr irish potatoes at $4 per bu
2
.00
4 Papers garden seed 2 bits per paper
1
.00
7
.50
Returned to Washington the balance of the $10 sent by Mr. F.
G.C.C.

Notes

"Washington" is believed to have been Washington L. Hannum who married [12242] Matilda ("Patsy") Robertson..., sister of the mother of Childress.

[122421] "Louisa"...was daughter of Washington L. and Matilda (Robertson) Hannum; "Mr. Flury"...was [122421] Louisa's husband, Anthony B. Flury. They resided in Washington Co., Texas, according to [12243] Sterling C. Robertson's will dated 10 Aug 1840. [12243] Sterling C. Robertson may have been there when this letter was written although his will describes him as "of County of Milam in the Republic of Texas."

BRONZE TABLET

On the bridge, built in 1927, where Texas Highway No. 43 crosses the Brazos River, which divides Milam and Robertson Counties, near the site of Nashville, once the principal town of the Robertson Colony in Texas, and now entirely abandoned and on the west, or Milam Co., end of the bridge is a handsome bronze tablet, erected by the Milam County Commissioners, by request of the Sarah McCalla Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, with the following inscription.

NASHVILLE - HERE WAS LOCATED THE CAPITAL OF - STERLING C. ROBERTSON'S - COLONY - 1834 - THE HOME OF GEORGE C. CHILDRESS - AUTHOR OF - TEXAS' DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - FIRST COUNTY SEAT OF MILAM COUNTY.

CHILDRESS COUNTY, TEXAS

One of the counties of Texas was named for [122413] George Campbell Childress. Childress County was created 11 Apr 1876 and organized in 1887.

Judge Z. T. Fulmore (2061) in his History and Geography of Texas as Told in County Names, p. 76, gives the following sketch of Childress.

JUDGE FULMORE'S SKETCH OF CHILDRESS

This county (Childress) was named for [122413] George Campbell Childress, author of the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Texas.

He was born in Nashville, Tenn., January, 8, 1804. He was a son of [12241] Elizabeth Robertson Childress and James (should be John. WCH) Childress, his mother being a niece of [1221] General James Robertson..., the founder of Nashville, Tenn.

Through the influence of his uncle, [12243] Major Sterling C. Robertson..., the empresario, he became to Texas in 1832 and located at Nashville, on the Brazos, in the colony of Robertson.

He was by profession a lawyer, but in the absence of courts he could do little more than act as counselor for the settlers in perfecting their titles to the lands acquired under the colonization laws.

In 1836, he was elected a delegate to the convention which declared independence and framed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.

He was a brilliant lawyer and orator, a man of great magnetism, and profoundly versed in political science. These qualities and his record as an ardent advocate for independence commended him to the convention as the proper person to head the committee to draft a declaration.

After the adjournment of the convention President Burnet appointed him as a commissioner to go to Washington and present the claims of Texas to President Jackson, the personal friend and Tennessee neighbor of [122413] Childress, for recognition as an independent Republic. [122413] Childress went to Washington, but had not arrived when the battle of San Jacinto was fought. He remained in Washington until the adjournment of Congress and his mission was ended.

Later he returned to Nashville and entered the practice of law. In 1840, he committed suicide at his boarding house. He was never married.

Note: Judge Fulmore is in error here. [122413] Childress was twice married. He killed himself, 6 Oct 1841, in Galveston, Texas. He does not appear to have returned to Nashville, Tenn., to reside after he joined Robertson's Colony in Texas in the eighteen thirties. The date of his removal to Texas is variously stated from 1832 to 1836. WCH.

MRS. BOND'S STATEMENTS

Mrs. Bond in her Kinship Book, pp. 487-8, informs us:

"[122413] George C. Childress, son of Mrs. Matilda (should be [12241] Elizaabeth. WCH) (Robertson) Childress and her husband, Judge John Childress, was born at 'Rokeby' (the Childress home) in Nashville (Tenn.).

"He married, 1st, Margaret Vance. No issue. [The couple had an infant son, 1224131 Charles Childress, who is presumed to have died in infancy. See below: "Childress Arrives in TexasHis Son." TR]

"He married, 2nd, Miss - - - Jennings, a sister of the prominent physician, Dr. Thomas R. Jennings of Nashville and sister of the wife of Governor Henry Alexander Wise of Virginia.

"There were two children by the second marriage: [1224132] Annie Childress, born about 1837, and [1224133] Ellen Childress, born about 1839 . . .

"[1224132] Annie and [1224133] Ellen Childress, daughters of [122413] George Childress, lived for two or three years in Nashville in the home of their uncle, Dr. Jennings, in North High St., immediately before the beginning of the War of the 60's. [1224132] Annie Childress married - - - Daw of New York and had one child, [12241321] Annie Daw. [1224133] Ellen Childress married - - - Crute of Arkansas and had one child, [12241331] Ellen Crute."

GREER'S BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF CHILDRESS

(The following is gleaned from "Biographical Sketch George C. Childress" in Southwestern Historical Quarterly, October 1927, pp. 130-149) .

[122413] George Campbell Childress was born in Nashville, (Term.) January 8, 1804.

He studied law and was admitted to the Davidson County Bar in 1828.

Six years later, on September 22, 1834, be became one of the editors of The Nashville Banner and Advertiser, Nashville's daily paper. At the time that Childress began his editorship the paper was reduced from a daily to a tri-weekly.

His Texas Activities in Nashville, Tenn.

His efforts in behalf of the Texas colonists while editor of this paper, and his decision in 1835 to go to Texas were occasioned by numerous settlers having gone from Tennessee to Texas, the early activities in Tennessee of the Nashville Company which began the movement, and [12243] Sterling C. Robertson's work as an empresario from that state in carrying on the work.

On November 17, 1835, the press of Nashville published a call for a public meeting of the citizens of Nashville and Davidson County to be held at the courthouse, "for the purpose of adopting suitable measures for the assistance of their fellowcitizens in the province of Texas." At this meeting Childress was unanimously called to the chair. He explained the object of the meeting and "eloquently portrayed the condition of our friends and countrymen, who are there battling for all that freemen hold most dear, against the grasping ambitions of Mexico's despot and his hireling slaves."

The meeting was described as the most spirited ever held in Nashville. Childress was designated by resolution as correspondent from Texas with the committee of five men in Nashville.

Childress Arrives in TexasHis Son

Childress arrived in Texas early in January, 1836. On 12 Jan 1836 he applied for a grant of land in Robertson's Colony. In General Land Office, Austin Texas, Register Book, Roberson's Colony, p. 8, is the following entry:

"No. 36Geo. C. Childress aged (blank)Child Charles aged 10 monthsSworn & recorded Jan'y 12th, 1836 by Alcalde." (Note: This record indicates that he had a son, Charles, b Mar 1835. This son probably died young; nothing further has been learned of him. WCH).

His Wife

Childress' wife was in Texas in 1836. Col. William F. Gray of Virginia in his diary, From Virginia To Texas 1835-1836, published 1909 in Houston, Texas, states: "February 15, 1836...found Mr. Childers of Milam...Childers informed me that himself and Mr. Robertson, the empressario, were elected (delegates to the convention) from Milam. (Evidently George C. Childress and Sterling C. Robertson were the "Childers" and "Roberson" mentioned).

Col. Gray continued his journey to San Felipe. His diary states: "February 24, 1836...Started about noon for San Felipe. Arrived after night at the home of a Mr. Foster, a venerable old man, a native of King and Queen County, Virginia, and his wife of Spottsylvania County ...Here for the first time in Texas I heard a blessing asked for our meal at supper. Found Mrs. Childers here." Mr. L. W. Kempsee his commentsstates that this was probably Mrs. Goolsby Childers. She, as well as Childress, was then in Texas. WCH).

Resided at Old Nashville, Texas

Mr. Childress resided in 1836 in Texas at Nashville, on the Brazos. (Not a building now stands in this abandoned town, founded by Tennessee settlers in Texas, and named for Nashville, Tenn. As previously herein mentioned its site is in Milam Co. where Texas Highway No. 43 (also near where the International and Great Northern R. R.) crosses the Brazos River. WCH).

On Texas Diplomatic Mission to U. S.

On 19 Mar 1836, two days after the adjournment of the convention which proclaimed the independence of Texas, the President of Texas appointed Childress one of the two Commissioners to proceed to Washington, D. C., and open negotiations with the United States government concerning "the Sovereignty and Independence of Texas."

Greer states: "Childress was appointed Special Agent to Washington for three reasons: first, the Texas government naturally sent the men they felt were best qualified for the work, and Childress's work in the Convention had established him as an outstanding man in that group; second, the chief point he was to emphasize was the Texas Declaration of Independenceand he was insofar as has been ascertained, the author of that document; third, his father and President Jackson had been good friends and it was thought that he would be able to reach him, if necessary, through this channel."

Other commissioners were appointed to succeed Childress and his colleague and reached Washington 8 July, 1836.

He Returns to Texas

(Some have thought that Childress then returned to Nashville, Tenn., and thereafter resided there. No doubt he did return via Tennessee for a visit but it is certain from evidence to follow that he returned to Texas, resided, and died there. WCH).

In a letter of 28 Oct 1836, from Louisville, Ky., to Gen. Stephen F. Austin of Texas, Childress wrote: "I shall set out for Texas tomorrow via Nashville; Tenn."

The Second Mrs. Childress

Col. Gray, in his diary already mentioned, writing in New Orleans, La., states: "February 5, 1837...Called after church...to see Mrs. Childress (he now no longer spells it Childers), who her husband wished me to become acquainted with. Young, pretty, newly married, a Presbyterian, his second wife, interesting. She had heard favorable report of Mrs. Gray, and hoped they might be neighbors in Texas."

From this paragraph we learn that Childress was twice married. We may conclude that his son, Charles, who 12 Jan 1836 was "aged 10 months," was by his first wife and that the first Mrs. Childress died in 1836 and that Childress remarried that year or before 5 Feb 1837.

His two daughters whom Mrs. Bond states were born, Annie, about 1837 and Ellen, about 1839, and were named in letters, hereinafter quoted, written by their father just before his death in 1841, which indicate that their mother was then alive, were evidently by his second wife.

Conveys Land in Texas

On 27 Jan 1838, in a conveyance made at Milam, Sabine Co., Texas, he sold to Daniel L. Richardson for one thousand dollars his claim for headright certificate for one league and one labor of land which he had proved before the Board of Land Commissioners for Nacogdoches County. (Greer, in footnote, cites the following reference: "File 61 Karnes / 58Goliad 1st ClassGeo. C. Childress 26 laborsH. R. Certificate No. 72." General Land Office).

Attorney at Law in Houston, Texas

Returning from his mission in Washington, D. C., Childress wrote as before stated from Louisville, Ky., 28 Oct 1836: "I shall set out for Texas tomorrow, via Nashville, Tenn."

He eventually went to Houston, Texas, where he wrote a letter, facsimile of which appears herein, and where we find further evidence of him in 1839.

A "Card'

(published in The Weekly Picayune, New Orleans, La., April 1, 1839) .

George C. Childress, Attorney at Law, will attend the Supreme Court, and the District Courts of Harrisburg, and some of the adjacent countiesOffice at the City of Houston.

Claims on the government, either for Bounty Land or money, will be undertaken and promptly attended to, either for nonresidents or residents of Texas.

Address from the United States:City of. Houston, to the care of S. Ricker, jr., (Texas Post Office Agent) New Orleans.

The Telegraph, city of Houston; Commercial Bulletin, Bee, Courier, (etc. J. K. G.) Journal, Louisville Republican Banner, Nashville; Little Rock Times and Advocate; Huntsville Advocate; Florence Gazette; the Tuscumbia paper; and the Journals in the City of Mobile will please republish the above three months, and forward their accounts to me for payment.

Houston, Feb. 1, 1839.

Visits Tennessee

In the winter of 1839-40 Childress visited Nashville, Tenn., as will appear from a letter (copy herein) of Oct. 7, 1841, to Dr. T. R. Jennings, Nashville, Tenn., from Dr. Ashbel Smith of Galveston, Texas. Dr. Smith states that he was introduced by Col. Childress in Nashville, the previous winter.

Ashbel Smith Papers MSS.

The correspondence of Dr. Smith herein mentioned is now filed in Library of University of Texas, Austin, designated as "Ashbel Smith Papers MSS."

Letter from Childress to Dr. Smith

New Orleans, March 26th, 1841.

Dear Doctor.

Mrs. Childress and I are now here, on our way to Galveston, and if on our arrival there, we can not do better will be forced to accept your kind proposition to reside in your house until we can make other arrangementsI write this note in haste to send by the Neptune, which is just about to sail, or I would say moreNothing new since I saw you in NashvilleMrs. C. sends her best respectsWith the hope that you may have reached home in safety, I am Sir, with great respect,

Your friend & Obt. Svt. Geo. C. Childress.

To Dr. SmithGalveston.

Letter from Childress to President Lamar

Childress appears to have been in Galveston, Texas, June 9, 1841, when he wrote the following letter to Gen. M. B. Lamar, President of the Republic of Texas.

(Copy of Letter)

My D'r Sir,

I returned to Texas a few weeks since, and have passed the time since my arrival at this placeA contest having arisen between Judges Shelby & Johnson, each claiming to be the Judge of this District, together with the general dulness of the times, has almost put an end to the administration of Law here, so that there is no inducement, at present, to embark in the practice of my profession.

My cash means being small, I would gladly embark in the service of Government, if there be any situation in which I could be of servicethe compensation of which would defray my expenses until Fall, when I intend to commence the practice of Law. Such a situation would suit me the better as I expect to reside permanently at the City of Austinmy family, now in Tennessee, will be out in the Fall.

If the post of private Secretary to the President be at this time vacant I flatter myself Sir that I could give you entire satisfaction in that situation, by taking the labour of writing all ordinary communications which you would have, if approved, but to sign. I write, mechanically, with dispatch, and have been somewhat in the practice of composition. If you could give me any employment which would occupy my time, and defray my expenses at the Seat of Government for a few months it would be a favor Sir to be thankfully received and always rememberedI have both lands and business in the Vicinity of Austin, so that residence and employment these would bring me in proximity with my other interests.

If you have time from your numerous and pressing duties Sir to drop me a line in answer to this by return mail I will be thankful for the favor.

I have the honor to be Sir, with the highest respect,

Your friend & obt. Servt.
Geo. C. Childress.
Gen. M. B. LamarCity of Austin.

(His letter does not appear to have attained its purpose. He probably remained in Galveston where his tragic death oc. curred 6 Oct 1841).

Dr. Smith's JournalDeath of Childress

Dr. Ashbel Smith kept a journal in which he made the following entry and also made copies which follow of the several letters left with him by Childress for delivery:

Oct. 6. Arrived in Galveston: 6 A. M. found Col. Geo. C. Childress who had inflicted on himself several wounds in the abdomen with a bowie knife of which he died about three hours afterwards.

Copies of Letters left by Col. Childress in an envelope addressed to me. To

Dr. T. R. JenningsNashville, Tenn.
Dear Doctor
Galveston Oct 4.
I cannot bear to live longer and I consider it an act of Justice in dying to declare that my unhappiness had in no part arisen from the conduct of my wife your sister,she has made the best of wives, and is the greatest and most perfect character I have ever known.
SignedYr friend-Geo. C. Childress.

(Footnote: Thomas Reed Jennings was son of Rev. Obediah Jennings, D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville).

Mr. Franklin MorganCare of Morgan, Crutchers & Co.
Philadelphia, Penn.
My dear Sir,
Galveston Texas Oct 4.
To you and your wife Mary I bequeath my little daughter Ellen-Should she lose her mother adopt and raise her as your own child, and oblige.
SignedYr friendGeo. C. Childress.
Mr. Franklin Morgan-Philadelphia.

Hon. John CatronNashville Tenn.
(John Catron...was brother-in-law of Childress. He was then a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
WCH).
My dear Sir,
Galveston Oct. 5, 1841.
To you and your wife I bequeath the fathership and protection of my dear daughter Anne Should she be so unfortunate as to lose her mother please adopt her and raise her as your childand oblige your frd
Geo. C. Childress.
Hon. John CatronTenn.
Letters written to each one of the above named gentlemen and to be forwarded by same mail with the originals.
Oct. 7.

Letter from Dr. Smith to Dr. Jennings

(Only details of description of wounds are omitted. WCH).

Galveston Texas Oct. 7, 1841.
Dr. T. R. Jennings (Nashville, Tenn.)

Sir,

A painful duty has been imposed on me. I have just returned from the burial of your brother-in-law Col. Geo. C. Childress.

On my arrival in town yesterday morning after an absence of a fortnight in the interior I was told that Col. Childress had committed violence on his own life and was then supposed to be dying. I went forthwith to see him. His intestines had protruded through two severe wounds of the abdomen. ...To my inquiry of what is the meaning of this He replied "it is the effect of an oversensitive mind"and shortly after added, "I had neither money to bring my wife to this country or to enable me to visit her." He told me that he had written some letters inclosed in an envelope to me which he wished me to take copies of and forward the originals agreeably to their address respectively. He wished me to learn by correspondence whether his letters came to handand in case of any miscarriage to send copies of the copies in my possession. His letters are written to yourself, to Judge Catron, and to Mr. Morgan of Philadelphia. He had not written to Mrs. Childress, he could not, he wished you to break the intelligence to her: He was when I arrived in full possession of his understanding& of his senses. He expressed no regret for what he had done, nor any desire to live; nor fear of death, but a wish to be saved the pangs of dying. He conversed with much calmness. He requested me to send for his clothes but to the inquiry of Mr. Pizer (?) whether he had any request to make concerning his lands &c, he replied, "none." A short time before he expired, he wished to be baptised. But there being no clergyman in town it was not done. A religious gentleman prayed by his bedside, he added "amen" and died a half hour afterwards without much suffering, about three hours after stabbing himself ...He was buried with respect the following morning 26 hours after his death, at 11 o'clock A. M.

The effects, consisting wholly of articles of clothing, a razor, & two pairs of saddle-bags, a copy of Paley's Moral Philosophy were duly inventoried and put in my care by the Judge of Probate; Also a package of papers of little value & some letters, all of which are carefully sealed up. His land papers are in the hands of a Mr. Van Alstyne who had advanced Col. Childress twelve & a half dollars. The expenses of his funeral have been between 60 and 100 dollars. What other demands exist here against him I know not. I have replied for to no person until you shall be heard from. Mr. Price formerly of Nashville joined in this opinion. Everything will remain as at present until his friends send instruction. What shall be done with his clothes and other articles? His clothing is considerably worn and contains no article of fineness as I suppose his friends would wish to preserve.

You may perhaps recollect a person introduced to you some time last winter in Nashville by Col. Childress. The writer is that personand
Very resp etcAshbel Smith.

Letter from John Catron to Dr. Smith

My Dr Sir:
Nashville, Nov. 20th 1841.
Accept my thanks and gratitude for your very kind letter of Octr 7th. enclosing that of Col. Childress. I found them here on my return from Kentucky yesterday. The melancholy tidings they communicate, inflict on Mrs. Childress and on the sisters of Col. C. most melancholy and severe suffering. The suicide to them so unaccountable: yet, to us who knew Mr. C. best, it was not so surprising on reflection, after the first shock had passed off. He had been subject to fits of melancholy since boyhood, that ran into madness, in which he was so violent, & reckless, in a high degree in regard to others; and when his feelings of desolation turned on himself, the conse. quences that did ensue, should have been anticipated, & I find were so, by Judge Brown..., who of all others best knew Col. C.

I hope you and the other gentlemen who were kind to Col. C., will accept the heartfelt gratitude of his relations; and that you will present most especially their thanks to Mrs. Crittenden. Dr. Jennings informs me that he has written you in regard to all necessary matters concerning the affairs of Col. C. in Texas.
Most SincerelyYr frd & obt Servt
J. Catron.
To Dr. SmithGalveston
P. S. Mrs. Childress goes to Philadelphia to reside with her mother on Monday (22inst).

Letter from Franklin H. Morgan to Dr. Smith

(The relationship of brother-in-law of Morgan to Childress was that of Morgan having married Mary S. Jennings, a sister of Childress' second wife. WCH).

Philadelphia November 13, 1841
Doct. Ashbel Smith-GalvestonTexas.

Dear Sir

I am in receipt of your kind favor of the 7 ulto. communicating the sad intelligence of the death of my brother-in-law George C. Childress. For your kind attention to his wishes, you will please accept our thanks. The letter from Mr. C. to myself dated 4, ult., came to hand at same time.
Very RespectfullyYour Obt Svt
F. H. Morgan.

Hamilton Stuart, founder and editor of The Galveston Civilian, who knew Childress, made the following notation in reference to the grave of Childress: "His body lies in Galveston within a few feet west of the Rosenberg school building."

MONUMENT

The State of Texas, by act of its legislature, has erected in the Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston a monument of Texas granite over six feet in height with the following inscription.

Erected by the State of Texas in Memory of
George Campbell Childress
Co-Author and Signer of the
Texas Declaration of Independence
Born at Nashville, Tennessee
January 8, 1804
Died at Galveston, Texas
October 6, 1841

REFERENCES HEREIN

Reference is made elsewhere herein to information of Childress.

On 14 Jan 1828, he gave bond to the administrator of the estate of his parents...to secure the administrator for the delivery to him of "negroes and other personal property to the value of $2824 dollars, the said Geo. C's distributive share of the personal estate of the said John and [12241] Elizabeth Childress." No doubt he received also a part of the large land estate of his parents.

His sister, [122415] Mrs. Anna Maria (Childress) Brown, wife of Judge Morgan Williams Brown, made affidavit that their brother, John Childress, "migrated to Texas or went there with his brother, George Childress, about 1834 or 1835"....

His uncle, [12244] Eldridge Blount Robertson..., in letter of 29 Jan 1842 from Fayetteville, Tenn., to the laters brother, [12243] Sterling C. Robertson, in Texas wrote: "Rumor has it in this part of the country that [122413] George Childress killed himself in consequence of his endorsements for Col. Marshall (probably related to Childress' brother-in-law, Samuel B. Marshall...WCH). I dont know how the fact is."

Rumor is rarely reliable and was probably not so in this case. Childress seemed to have been in general financial distress and with little hope of improving that condition when he brought about his untimely end.

Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2604-2619.

Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2003

All original material Copyright ©2003 Tom Robertson. All rights reserved including those of electronic transmission and reproduction of the material in any format.

Home
Site Map
Guest Book
Links

Member Site