Samuel A. Maverick


The Young Lawyer  ·  The Texan  ·  The Revolutionists  ·  Maverick Escapes Death  ·  A Pioneer Bride  ·  The Council House Massacre  · Maverick Goes to Prison  ·  Chihuahua Expedition  ·  Maverick and Another War  ·  The Maverick Heritage

Samuel A. Maverick
Introduction

In a Frontier Society, where intellectual and educational attainments were ever rare, one with such qualities as Samuel Maverick became the indispensable man. Lawyer, businessman, landholder, and for decades a public servant in various levels of government, his accomplishments would be recognized by any generation; but his particular combination of courageousness and restlessness marked him as a natural leader for San Antonio in its years of turbulence.

Although among the first in the tradition of Texas boosters, he favored the annexation of Texas by the United States rather than continuance as an independent republic, and he favored union rather than secession prior to 1860.

Maverick became one of the great empire builders of Texas and a wealthy man. His dedication to San Antonio resulted in many personal sacrifices—the loss of personal property when the enemy invaded, gifts of money to needy persons, and always the contribution of his time and energy to the town, the Republic, and later the state of Texas.

That Samuel Maverick took a day-to-day matter-of-fact attitude in his approach to numerous hardships on the Texas frontier should suggest to the young reader in the twentieth century a valid and common sense approach to his own daily problems in a turbulent world. Indeed, this is the thesis of the authors, Kathryn and Irwin Sexton.

Mrs. Sexton had been unable to locate an appropriate book on Samuel Maverick when her young son developed an interest in this progenitor of many distinguished San Antonians. She reported her chagrin to her husband, who suggested that she begin the task of preparing such a book herself.

There resulted, as a joint enterprise, this account of a man who, in war and in economic depression, kept faith in the future of the town to which he returned from diverse adventures which were as dangerous as they are exciting for the present-day reader. Mr. and Mrs. Sexton have not ignored the contributions of Maverick's wife Mary, a pioneer gentlewoman whose spirit equaled that of her husband, and whose Memoirs provided the springboard for this biography for young people.

James W. Laurie, President
Trinity University
November, 1963

The Young Lawyer

Samuel A. Maverick, famous Texan, lived during his boyhood on a peaceful plantation in South Carolina. If he played Indians and soldiers as American boys have always done, he probably did not dream that he would one day live under the continual threat of Indians on the warpath. Nor would he have thought it possible that someday he would be shooting at Mexican soldiers from the rooftop of his own home. While studying law as a young man, he could not see ahead to the day he would help write the constitution for the Republic of Texas; and the peaceful years he spent at Yale University were in surroundings far different than those he was to find later in a Mexican prison.

Samuel A. Maverick's life might not have been as exciting, dangerous and adventurous, if he had not heard about Texas at a time when he was wondering what he should do with his life. He had intended to be a lawyer. In fact, after graduating from Yale, he had set up a law practice in Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1829. He wanted to go into politics, too. However, at this time many South Carolinians were urging that their state secede from the United States. They were aroused by the tariff laws which they felt were very unfair to the South. Both Samuel A. Maverick and his father, Samuel Maverick, were against this drastic move. Tempers were high, and Samuel and his father were active in the fight to keep South Carolina in the Union. They wrote letters to newspapers, debated at public meetings and worked hard to change public opinion. At one meeting, the elder Maverick was making a speech in answer to John C. Calhoun's arguments for secession. A young man in the audience called out slurring remarks about the speaker. Samuel, or Sam as he was called, was so angered by those taunts directed at his father that he challenged the young man to a duel. He wounded the man, and then took him into his home to care for him. Like many another young man, Sam was quick to fight; but few would have followed a duel in which they were victorious by caring for their opponent. His readiness to fight for what he believed to be right would lead him to strange places before his life was over.

That duel was a turning point in young Maverick's life. He realized then that as long as he was so opposed to the politics of the times he had little hope of being successful in public life. He withdrew from politics, from the practice of law, and from the state of South Carolina! At his father's suggestion he moved to Alabama to manage the estates of his widowed sister, Elizabeth Weyman.

Samuel A. Maverick came from a fairly well-to-do family. His father had taken an active part in the business life of Charleston, South Carolina. He is said to have been the first one to ship American cotton to England. He had retired to a quiet plantation, Montpelier, in Pendleton, South Carolina, because the climate was a more healthful one for his children. He owned much land, some of which he had signed over to his children, Samuel Augustus (born July 23, 1803), Elizabeth (born 1807), Lydia (born 1814). He found happiness in his quiet plantation life and became well known as a horticulturist. No doubt he was relieved to turn over some of the management of his and his daughters' affairs to his son. His wife, born Elizabeth Anderson of Virginia, had died when Samuel Augustus was fifteen years old.

Although very little is known of Sam's early life, it is apparent from reading the letters between him and his father that there was much affection between them. Samuel Maverick continued to give advice to his son long after he left home, but love and pride shine through his letters.

The management of Elizabeth's estates did not hold Samuel A. Maverick's interest for long. Restlessly he toured the North and visited his married sister, Lydia Van Wyck. He went to New Orleans on a business trip. In this busy port town everyone was talking about Texas which at the time belonged to Mexico, and had only been opened up to American settlers since 1820. Like many other restless young men of that time, he decided he must see the fabulous place for himself. This proved to be more than a decision to take a trip, for the pattern of his life was to be changed completely. Texas captured his imagination and fired his ambition. Texas truly became his home—he fought for it, worked for it and loved it.

The Texan

Maverick was excited by Texas, but it was the little town of San Antonio which completely won him to this new land. San Antonio was the only town of any size in the length and breadth of Texas. Velasco, on the coast, was the first Texas town he visited and there were only eight or ten families living there. The country was sparsely settled with a few isolated farms between the small settlements. While travelling he came down with malaria, and friends suggested he go to San Antonio, which had a more healthful climate.

The atmosphere and beauty of the little Spanish-Mexican town immediately charmed Maverick when he arrived in San Antonio on September 8, 1835. Although the population was under three thousand at the time, the town had a varied and colorful history. It was originally founded by the Spanish in 1718 as a fort (Presidio de Bexar), and a mission (San Antonio de Valero). The Spanish felt it was an excellent place for a settlement because of the plentiful water supplied by the San Pedro Springs and the San Antonio River. A group of colonists from the Canary Islands had also been sent to this site, and they named their settlement San Fernando de Bexar. Frequently it was called just Bexar or Bejar. Maverick usually referred to it as Bejar in his journals.

It is not surprising that San Antonio had the charm of a foreign city to Maverick, because the Spanish and Mexican influences were very apparent. He admired the charming manners of the Mexicans and their gaiety. He liked the way the adobe and stone buildings were built around open plazas. He was interested in the less prosperous homes, quaint log houses built of mesquite posts with roofs of straw or tule (a kind of rush).

No doubt, too, Maverick enjoyed the beauty of the cypresses which bordered the San Antonio River, and the quiet charm of the missions. The missions had been established by the Franciscan Fathers to teach the Indians Christianity and Spanish ways of farming. By 1800 the Franciscans had given up their mission work, but the mission churches were still used as churches. The best known was the one established as Mission San Antonio de Valero, the original name which was all but forgotten. The Mexican cavalry stationed on the mission grounds in the early 1800's was called El Alamo from the name of the town where it was recruited, San Jose Santiago del Alamo de Parras. Mission San Antonio de Valero was soon called the Alamo. It was to play an important part in Maverick's life, and in the history of San Antonio and of Texas.

Samuel A. Maverick, of course, quickly learned of the part San Antonio had played in the Mexican revolt from Spain. In the hands of first the Mexican army, then the Spanish army, it had been the scene of much fighting the discord. The revolution was drawn out from 1811 to 1821, when Mexico finally won its independence. The year before, 1820, Mexico had finally given permission to Moses Austin to settle Americans in Texas. He died shortly after that and his son, Stephen F. Austin, took over his work.

San Antonio, which had been nearly deserted at times during the Mexican Revolution, was beginning to grow and prosper when Samuel A. Maverick arrived there at the age of thirty-two. Although conditions forced him to travel far from there at times and to live away from it for many years, San Antonio was truly his home town. He contributed much to its growth and development.

It had taken Maverick from April 22 to September 8 to reach San Antonio. This was not only because of the slowness of travel by horseback, boat or wagon, but also because he stopped often along the way. He visited, he studied the land and he did business. He bought a parcel of land near Cox's Point, the first of many he was to buy in Texas. From everyone he heard about the Texan quarrels with Mexican rule.

Mexico had won its independence from Spain, but now Maverick realized another revolution was brewing. Many of the Mexican laws were as oppressive to the Mexicans living in Texas as to the Americans. Mexico's capital was far away, and it was hard to transact government business. Texans did not like the immigration laws which had been passed in the 1830's to keep American settlers from coming to Texas in too great numbers. They wanted the more liberal Mexican Constitution of 1824 and not the harsher regime of Dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. There was an ever-growing number of people who were saying that the only way to bring about a more just government and the re-establishment of the 1824 constitution was to take up arms and fight.

The Revolutionists

Like many other Americans who had come to Texas out of curiosity or to find success in business ventures, Maverick soon found himself caught up in the turbulence of the times. These Americans, now Texans, were used to a democratic and representative type of government, and they were willing to fight for what they believed to be their rights.

Even if Maverick had not been an ardent believer in the Texan cause, his imprisonment by the brutal Mexicans would have made him one. Although he recorded the event in his journals factually and not emotionally, it must have shocked Maverick to find himself a captive of the Mexicans just a few short weeks after his arrival in San Antonio. He was rooming with John W. Smith when Generals Martin Perfecto de Cos and Domingo de Ugartechea marched into San Antonio. They put both Maverick and Smith under guard in Smith's house. The two generals had been ordered to San Antonio by Dictator Santa Anna. If he thought they could put out the spark of rebellion, he found he was mistaken. The militant Texans were now more than ever determined to fight.

In order to recapture San Antonio, Texan forces gathered at Mission Concepcion just outside of San Antonio. They could scarcely be called forces, this Texas army. They were volunteers, poorly organized, but eager to fight. Their commander, Stephen F. Austin, however, decided to wait for more men before attacking.

The fact that Austin was willing to lead troops against Mexico was in itself a sign that conditions in Texas had become deplorable. For years he had been a loyal citizen of Mexico. He had carefully obeyed all its laws when he was given permission to settle Americans in Texas. Then he had been imprisoned for months in Mexico because of his colonization activities. After that experience he saw the hopelessness of Texas' remaining a part of Mexico. He had previously been very much against the Texas "war party," but now he answered "yes" when asked to command the troops. He was not a military man by nature or training.

When the Texas Congress asked Austin to seek help for the revolutionists in the United States, he gave up his command to General Edward Burleson. Burleson, like Austin, waited. The Americans within San Antonio were waiting, too. Although under guard, Maverick had kept in touch with the Texas troops by sending notes back and forth with a dependable Mexican boy.

In his journal Maverick wrote how impatient he was at the situation. He could see the Mexicans fortifying the town. Cannons were being mounted at the Alamo. The streets were being well guarded. Underbrush, trees, fences—anything that could be a lurking place for Texan spies and soldiers—were being cut down. It would have been much easier to retake San Antonio with two hundred men, he wrote on November 3, 1835, than it was going to be with the fifteen hundred men Austin and Burleson were hoping would join them.

The Texan army had waited about six weeks, but they might have waited even longer if General Cos had not released Smith and Maverick. Their release was based on Smith's promise that they would soon go back to the United States, but soon proved to be not soon enough for the Mexicans! Maybe Maverick and Smith intended to keep their promise, but first they wanted to visit their friends in the Texas camp.

Once in camp, Maverick urged the already restless men to act, and volunteered to lead them into the town. After he talked, there was much discussion. First a decision was made by the officers to attack, and then the order was cancelled. He was dejected and angry at the delay and so were many of the men. Finally, Colonel Benjamin R. Milam is said to have stepped forward and asked, "Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?" Over two hundred men volunteered. At that time there were about seven hundred men in camp. Maverick estimated that over two thousand men had been there through the waiting period, but had drifted away when no action had been taken.

Just before daylight on December 5, 1835, led by Milam and Frank W. Johnson and guided by Maverick and Smith, the Texans stole into San Antonio. Maverick knew the town well, although he had only been there a short time. He knew the strength of the Mexican forces and the fortifications they had made. He even had a plan of attack. No one can be sure what the plan was, but he mentioned in his journal that he had suggested one to Austin.

Four days the battle raged. House to house they fought, and room to room. They advanced by inches as they broke through the stone walls which were usually four to five feet thick. The Americans seemed to know which houses were strategic points. Was this perhaps the plan Maverick had suggested to Austin? Some people think it might have been.

Milam was killed on the third day as he entered the Veramendi House. (A daughter of the Veramendis was married to the famous Jim Bowie.) Maverick caught Milam in his arms as he fell. So greatly did the Texans admire and depend on Milam that they tried to keep news of his death from as many of the men as possible. The doors of the Veramendi House were later placed in the Alamo. This relic of one of the battles in the Texan fight for freedom is fittingly displayed in the Alamo, "Shrine of Texas Liberty."

Although Milam was dead, General Burleson by that time had joined his men and assumed leadership of the attack. On the fifth day of fighting, Cos was captured. Maverick was a witness to the articles of capitulation signed by General Cos. The ancient adobe house in which the surrender was signed is known as the Cos House. It still stands today in La Villita, or Little Town, in San Antonio, and is visited yearly by thousands of tourists. A grandson of Maverick, Maury Maverick, was responsible for preserving this historic area.

The Texans could not possibly take care of over one thousand prisoners. Cos and his men were allowed to return to their own country after promising they would not fight against the re-establishment of the constitution of 1824. The Texans need not have bothered insisting on this promise. It wasn't kept.

Maverick Escapes Death

With San Antonio once again secure, most of the Texans left. Some joined General Sam Houston, now commanding the army of Texas, who was stationed near Goliad. Houston knew his army was too small and too ill-prepared to defend Texas against another Mexican attack which he was certain would come up too soon. He needed arms, men and time. He did not want to split up his forces by sending more men to the Alamo. Nor did he want the Mexicans to seize the cannon there for their own use or use the Alamo as a fort. For these reasons he gave orders to move the cannon to Gonzales and to destroy the Alamo. But the orders were never carried out. Colonel James Bowie delivered Houston's message to Colonel William B. Travis. Travis, the Alamo commander, did not obey these orders, but pleaded for more men. It was his firm belief that Santa Anna could be stopped at San Antonio, the first important settlement in Texas north of the Rio Grande River and Mexico. Even if they were defeated, he reasoned that the Mexicans would be delayed long enough for Houston to muster and train more men. Bowie agreed with him and stayed on at the Alamo.

Texas had so recently been opened up to Americans that everyone, it seemed, was a newcomer. Reputations were quickly established. Maverick had already proved his loyalty to the Texan cause and his qualities of leadership in the battle to retake San Antonio from General Cos. The men of San Antonio recognized in the slender young lawyer qualities of courage and intelligence, and they elected him in February, 1836, to represent them in the convention. This convention had been called to decide if Texas were to remain an independent state, faithful to the Mexican government under the constitution of 1824, or if it were to declare itself a free and sovereign nation.

Sam Maverick might well have been among his new friends who died as heroes in the battle of the Alamo. It was not lack of courage or a desire to avoid fighting which took him from the tragic scene. Travelling on horseback was a slow process and the convention in Washington-on-the-Brazos, one hundred and fifty miles away, had been called for March 1. Maverick had already started for the convention when the Mexican troops were sighted.

The Texans had heard that the Mexican army, commanded by Santa Anna himself, was on the move; but they did not realize how quickly it was approaching. The lookout sighted Mexican troops on February 23, 1836. Quickly the little band of one hundred and eighty-three men fortified themselves behind the walls of the Alamo and the siege began.

The valiant band of Texans—under the leadership of Travis, the famous Jim Bowie and the legendary Davy Crockett—withstood the siege of over twenty-four hundred Mexicans for thirteen days. On the morning of March 6, the Mexicans finally made an all-out attack on the weary men. Every man in the Alamo was killed. Only a few Mexican women, a slave boy, an American woman, Mrs. Almeron Dickinson, and her baby escaped death.

The men of the Alamo died for the freedom of Texas and set an example of bravery for the whole world, but in those days of slow communication they perished unaware that the Declaration of Independence had been signed on March 2. They did not know that their delegates had declared: "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...." Because of floods, Maverick and two other delegates from San Antonio, Jose Antonio Navarro and Francisco Ruiz, had not reached Washington-on-the-Brazos until March 3. They were permitted to sign their names to the historic document, however. Maverick was the only one to sign with the name of his town, and he added after his signature "from Bejar."

Maverick stayed on at the convention as the delegates went about the difficult task of drawing up a constitution for the new nation of Texas. It was patterned after the Constitution of the United States and those of several of the states. It was said of Maverick by a fellow delegate, William Menefee, that he conducted himself as a statesman and a diplomat. His legal training and his wise political judgment contributed much to the convention. He was not a man to make a show of his knowledge and learning; but, as Menefee pointed out, it could be seen in all that he did and said. Another signer, Stephen W. Blount, wrote that when Maverick believed he was right, his strong will made him a determined man. And he was determined that Texas should be free of Mexico.

Texas had a constitution and governing officers by March 17, 1836, when the convention ended, but Santa Anna had not yet been defeated. It was not until April 21 at San Jacinto that General Sam Houston and his men defeated the Mexican forces in a surprise attack.

A Pioneer Bride

After the battle of San Jacinto, Maverick journeyed back to the United States to visit his family. By that time the tragic and heroic story of the Alamo had been heard by all America. Great was the joy of his family when they saw him.

Because of a handkerchief dropped on a muddy road, Maverick did not return to Texas as quickly as he had planned! While visiting his sister in Alabama, he rode out one day on horseback. Passing on the other side of a mudhole was a pretty young woman who dropped her handkerchief. Sam dismounted and picked it up for Mary Ann Adams. After this meeting he courted her for four months. They were married in August, 1836. Those who thought Maverick a reserved man would have been surprised at the keepsake Mary found among her husband's things after his death. Even she had not known that he kept a piece of the green muslin dress she was wearing the day they met.

Samuel's glowing accounts of life in Texas and San Antonio made his tall blonde bride anxious to see her new home. She must have had some doubts too, after hearing stories of the Cos attack, the Comanche Indian raids and the battle of the Alamo. Travel was slow and full of hardships and inconveniences. Eighteen-year-old Mary worried at the great distance that lay between Texas and her home, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Over a year passed while they visited their families and Maverick transacted his business.

When they did start out for Texas it took them two months, from December 7, 1837, to February 4, 1838, to get there. In the party were their infant son, Sam, who had been born in October. Mary Anne's fifteen-year-old brother, Robert, six Negro servants and four of their children. They made quite a procession with their large carriage, a wagon, three saddle horses and a filly. In the wagon were the tent, their supplies, bedding—and the children. It was a long, hard journey. They stopped frequently to rest or to do the washing. Sometimes they had to wait for muddy roads to dry, and one swamp fourteen miles wide took four days to cross.

Mary must have often wondered, "When will we ever get to San Antonio?" Even when they arrived in Texas, she had to wait four months to see the picturesque town she was to call home. Samuel left her in Spring Hill on the Navidad River while he went on to see if San Antonio was safe. There was always the threat of invading Mexican troops, because Mexico continued to claim Texas and disregarded her independence. In addition, the Comanche Indians were unfriendly and made frequent raids on the town.

Maverick wrote back to Spring Hill frequently and apologized for his long delay. One of the reasons he had gone to San Antonio was to buy some land there. He was having a difficult time, he told her. There were legal technicalities complicating land purchases. He complained also that land speculators were causing all sorts of problems. He missed her greatly, he assured her again and again, but their financial future depended on his staying. The letters of Sam to Mary were often a combination of love and business!

In June when Maverick finally came to get her, all the stories Mary had heard about unfriendly Indians must have come vividly to her mind. One day as they were breaking up camp to continue on their way to San Antonio, a band of Tonkawa Indians rode up. They were coming back victorious from a battle with the Comanches. They were dressed in war paint, armed, and were displaying two scalps. These frightening men asked Mary to let them see her little "papoose," the baby Sam. She was frightened, but had the courage to say no when they wanted her to hand the baby out of the carriage to them. This was the first test of the bravery she was to show many times during the years to come. She did not show her fear. She held her baby up so the Indians might see, but she also kept her pistol and knife in sight so they would know she was prepared to defend him. All this time she kept urging Griffin, the servant, to hurry. It is easy to see why! Maverick showed his usual courage, too, and kept right on working with his men to get their equipment and possessions loaded as quickly as possible. As they left the camp site Mary's hopes that the Indians would go in the other direction were not fulfilled. The Indians accompanied them most of the night. Toward morning they left, and the rest of the journey passed without any incidents.

Texans have a reputation for boasting of their state, and Maverick was no exception. Mary's brother, Williams Adams, was so excited by Sam's stories that he had gone on to San Antonio ahead of them. His being there made Mary's arrival seem less strange.

William did not make a success of the store he owned and soon left San Antonio, though he returned later.

To have Mexicans as her only friends was an unusual experience for Mary. She wondered why other Americans didn't come to San Antonio, because they were settling in other parts of Texas. Maverick suggested that the thought of possible Indian and Mexican attacks was one reason. It was a real frontier town, she wrote home to her mother. There were still marks of bullets and cannon balls on the walls of many of the buildings.

When the Maverick family first arrived in town, they lived in a house directly across from the site of what is now the Bexar County Courthouse, but moved from there into another house. In 1839 they moved into their own home, where their second son, Lewis, was born. The main house had three rooms, and the kitchen and servants' quarters were separate. It was quite an establishment with a picket fence around the garden and grounds going down to the river. A fitting establishment, though, for the mayor of the town. In 1839, Samuel Maverick's leadership was once again recognized and he was elected mayor. San Antonio had been incorporated in January, 1837, with an area of thirty-six square miles.

Samuel Maverick, it has been said, never sought public office, nor ever electioneered for it; but from 1836 to 1867 he continually held some public office for his town and for his state. He was a scrupulously honest man, a man of learning, and had a statesman's wise and objective attitude. Undoubtedly his law training helped him carry out his public duties, but it was his staunch and upright character that made him a leader, and it was his love for San Antonio and Texas which made him accept these public duties.

The Council House Massacre

Perhaps if Maverick had lived today, he would have conducted his land transactions in an office and made decisions based on surveyors' and engineers' reports. Perhaps not, though, for Maverick greatly enjoyed the surveying camp. He was keenly interested in buying up land and was frequently away from home on survey trips. These excursions were a combination of hard work and fun for him. They were also very dangerous, because away from town there was always the threat of Indians. One time in 1839 when he left with a survey party, Mary made him promise that he would be back by a certain day. He kept his promise and returned with one or two others of the party. The night after they left camp, all but one of the group they left behind were killed by Indians.

Business frequently took Maverick to Alabama and South Carolina. The trips were long, and must have seemed even longer to Mary, left alone with the children, than they did to him. Although mail service was slow and irregular, he wrote often. The letters reveal him as a loving and good husband who worried about his family. He was concerned for them and deplored the business which took him away. Sam's father frequently wrote his son that health and life were more important than money. Maverick, a man of many interests and much energy, did not heed his father's advice and continued to travel on business. He usually shopped for his wife on these trips as supplies were scarce. Mary's shopping lists included everything from silver spoons and tea kettles to lard and pins, clothing and medicines. Maverick was generous to his family. His bounteous gifts to the city of San Antonio also amply testify to his generosity.

On the day of the Council House Massacre, Mary must have been especially glad that her husband was not away on one of his trips. March 19, 1840, was the date of that bloody and infamous fight. For some time past, the Comanche Indians had been very troublesome. In their raids on weak settlements, they had captured many white people. On this warm spring day the Indians had come into San Antonio supposedly to make a peace treaty. They met at the Council House, the courthouse of that time which stood near the site of the present Bexar County Courthouse. While discussing terms, the Indians suddenly drew their arrows and commenced firing. Everyone ran out into the public square. Soldiers were shooting. Civilians were running to get arms. Indians were trying to escape to the river.

Mary frantically looked for the boys. They were in the yard, and so was an Indian! The maid, Ginny, stood there with a rock in her hand to defend her own children and the two Maverick boys. The Indian hesitated, then ran on to the river. A bullet from Andrew's gun killed him as he jumped into the river. By this time there was much hand-to-hand fighting. Mary, watching one fight, got so excited that she ran out of the house. One of the officers ordered her to get back. She explains in her memoirs that she was young at the time, just twenty-two years old, and was curious.

Maverick had made a wise choice for a wife, for she met danger fearlessly and suffered loneliness and hardship without complaint. Thirty-three Indians were killed the day of the Council House Massacre and thirty-three were taken prisoner. Six Americans were killed and one Mexican; ten Americans were wounded. The Indians had been given opportunities to surrender, but did not.

Despite the constant threat of Indians, more Anglo-Americans were moving into San Antonio; and Mary had many good times with her women friends, both Mexican and American. They had picnics and bathing parties. They felt safer because Jack Hays and his "boys" were guarding the town. From 1838 to 1848 Maverick was one of Hays' "minutemen" and often went on Indian skirmishes and other expeditions.

Jack Hays had come to Texas from Tennessee as a surveyor when he was only nineteen years old. He had soon earned a reputation for courage and skill at Indian fighting. When he was only twenty-three, the Texas congress commissioned him as the first captain of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were created to defend the isolated frontiers to the south and west and they became famous under his command. The slim, dark-complexioned young man was quiet and courteous and well liked, but to the Indians he was a man to be feared.

Maverick Goes to Prison

The year 1841 brought a welcome peace to the Mavericks and San Antonio, but it did not last long. In 1842 the people of the little town suffered one of their worst years. In February Captain Hays heard that Mexican troops had crossed over the Rio Grande. Most of the ladies and children left quickly. They took what possessions they had room for in their wagons and carriages. The Mavericks left their house in the care of two gentlemen who were to live in it. Mary entrusted her valuables to a neighbor. Little did they thinnk that she would not reclaim them for five years.

The group of refugees was still near Seguin, about thirty-five miles away, when they heard that San Antonio had fallen to General Rafael Vasquez. The women were all extremely upset until they heard that their husbands were all right and that Hays had recaptured the town within three days.

Maverick quickly joined his family after the victory and settled them in Gonzales. Their journey was a difficult one. Rains slowed their progress. They stayed at various homes along the way—once they slept in a corn crib. One night as they slept on the floor it was not only Mary's damp clothing that kept her awake, but the sound of the hogs under the floor! Maverick left them again to return to San Antonio. He rejoined them in April saying that their home had been robbed. It had been stripped of everything in it, including a walnut mantlepiece built into the wall.

The Mavericks decided they would move temporarily to a place near La Grange on the Colorado River, because San Antonio was under the constant threat of another Mexican attack. Sam did not stay long, however, because he had to make an extended business trip to the United States. When he returned, he brought Mary's sister, Elizabeth, to stay with them, much to Mary's delight.

Court was in session in San Antonio so Maverick returned for it and to perform his duties as city treasurer. Mary mourned his leaving her, their two sons and their baby daughter Agatha, who had been born in 1841. Perhaps his blue-eyed Mary had a presentiment of events to come; perhaps it was only her experience of the past few years which made her so reluctant to have him go. He admitted afterwards in a letter that she had almost persuaded him to stay.

By the end of the summer Mary had good reason to wish she had persuaded him to remain. The Mexicans under General Adrian Woll made a surprise attack on San Antonio on September 11, 1842, with thirteen hundred men. Court was in session that day, with Samuel Maverick representing Dr. Shields Booker. The doctor was suing the city for fifty pesos, which, he said, had been promised him by the mayor, Juan Seguin. Judge Anderson Hutchinson was presiding over the court and all members of the San Antonio Bar were present.

When the Texans realized that the town was being attacked, they quickly fortified themselves in the Maverick home. Some of them shot at Mexican troops from the roof. They knew they were outnumbered and were ill-prepared in every way to wage a battle. Grave indeed was their plight; and, as they discussed it, they realized that to surrender was their only choice. They surrendered. Fifty-two men were taken prisoner, including Dr. Booker, whose case was before the court. The case was never completed.

The prisoners were kept in San Antonio for four days; then General Woll ordered them to the Perote Prison deep in Mexico. The trip was arduous, but they were allowed horses; in fact, Maverick started the long trek on his own horse. The alert Maverick kept his journal during this time. It was filled with details about the beauty of the land and the kind of crops and the irrigation. He commented on the towns, and noted the number of miles they travelled each day. Many another man would have been too discouraged about the future—and his present difficulties—to take an interest in such things.

Maverick's slave, Griffin, had hurried to La Grange to tell Mary the sad news. They decided that he should follow his beloved master into Mexico. With gun, mule and money he set out. He never reached the prisoners. En route he became engaged in a terrible battle east of San Antonio, which was later called the Dawson Massacre. The Mavericks all mourned deeply when they heard that he had been killed after fighting very courageously. The Texans finally succeeded in forcing General Woll to evacuate San Antonio. The Mexican Army retreated into Mexico.

Life in prison was a trying experience for the men of San Antonio. They were forced to do backbreaking work. Their guards were cruel. The captain of the prison maintained a store, and sold to the prisoner the supplies that should have been issued to them. Soon they had no money to buy anything. Those who could pay for it had been given a little better headquarters, but Maverick scorned such an arrangement. He believed that all of them were there for the same reason and that they should stay together sharing a common fate.

At first Maverick refused to work because the food, and the small quantities of it, did not give the prisoners strength enough to haul sand and load bricks. He was put in a dungeon for his rebellion and was kept in solitary confinement on meager rations. He was finally released and ordered to act as a supervisor of the others. The thin broth, the moldy bread and the almost inedible meat were scarcely nourishing enough to live on. Yet his letters home were written to cheer his beloved wife, and he assured her these rations were keeping him at a good weight. She was not to despair, he told her. She should look after herself and go riding with her sister so that she would stay healthy and happy.

Maverick, who escaped death at the Alamo, and who missed by a few hours being massacred by Indians, was once again fortunate. He was related by marriage to General Waddy Thompson, the United States minister to Mexico. It is typical of the kind of man Maverick was that he did not ask Thompson to work for his release. His father and others asked for him, however. General Thompson went to Santa Anna, himself, to ask for the release of Maverick, W. E. Jones and Judge Hutchinson. He also tried to get the others released. In his memoirs General Thompson wrote that he asked Maverick if he would announce that he was for the re-annexation of Texas by Mexico. If he would Thompson was sure he would be released.

True to his beliefs and ideals, Maverick's answer was a firm no. Another prisoner, James W. Robinson, did not share Maverick's attitude. The former lieutenant governor of Texas was released to discuss with President Sam Houston the terms that Santa Anna was willing to settle for—peace for Texas if it would recognize Mexican sovereignty.

While in prison Maverick wrote an extremely forceful letter to the Mexican secretary of state. Jose Maria Bocanegra, in which he declared himself to be Bocanegra's public enemy! He described exactly what the men had to eat; why they had to have more and better food; described the cruelty of the guards and the dishonesty of the man in charge of the prison; and detailed the reasons why he felt their imprisonment was a mistake, illegal and dishonorable. He asked General Thompson to deliver this letter, but the man to whom it was written never read it. Thompson was certain such a letter would only harm Maverick's chances for release!

Life in prison was made even harder for Maverick because he did not hear from his family for six months, although he kept writing to them. The lack of information about affairs in Texas also worried him, for he heard many conflicting rumors. He wrote to Mary that as long as he had no facts to keep his mind busy, he had much time for reflecting and for remembering only happy times.

Maverick immediately wrote to Mary when he was told that after seven months in prison he, Jones and Hutchinson were to be released. He told her that he would stop in New Orleans and she should write a letter there listing the supplies she needed and he would buy them. On the brink of a freedom he had almost despaired of getting, he remembered to ask her the size of his children's shoes so that he could buy them some. Truly he was a family man as well as an acute businessman and respected political leader.

Maverick, Jones and Hutchinson had to report to Mexico City after their release, but by May 4, 1843, were finally home once more with their families. Mary, of course, was delighted to see him, but shuddered at his chain which he gave her as a souvenir. He was elated to see his second daughter, Augusta, who was born in March, 1843. His joy was mixed with sorrow for the friends left behind in prison. It was almost with a feeling of shame, he said, that he lived as a free man while they were suffering the hardships of prison life. One of his fellow prisoners wrote that conditions were even worse after the three of them had been released. However, General Thompson was still working for them. He was successful and two month later, on June 16, 1843, the others from San Antonio were set free.

Chihuahua Expedition

On his return from Perote, Maverick bought a ranch on the Matagorda Peninsula. He was not at home long with his family. Although still a prisoner at the time of elections, he had been elected a senator. He was also serving as alderman for San Antonio, an office he held from 1841 through 1844. In December, 1843 he was in Washington-on-the-Brazos, serving in what was to be the last session of the last congress of the Republic of Texas. After it adjourned, he went to South Carolina on business. He did spend some time at home that year, but even at home he narrowly escaped death. While sailing on the Gulf, his boat was caught in a sudden squall. He and his friends were nearly drowned when the boat capsized. Luckily it happened near the shore and they were rescued.

Maverick ardently believed in Texas and urged his friends to buy land and settle there. Occasionally he became very annoyed at the ill-informed questions his friends and acquaintances in the United States would ask. He worked hard for the new republic as a legislator, but felt that Texas would be far better off as a part of the United States rather than an independent country. He was convinced that annexation of Texas by the United States would be to the benefit of both countries. Some Texan leaders shared his beliefs. Still another group, however, fought annexation. Finally those who wanted annexation were successful, and Texas became the twenty-eighth state in the Union on December 29, 1845. For ten years Texas had flown the Lone Star flag as an independent country.

Although the Mavericks had lived away from San Antonio since General Woll's attack and had bought a ranch on the Peninsula, San Antonio was their real home. Maverick was constantly there as he became more and more involved in San Antonio's business life.

Mary had her first ride in a stagecoach when they finally moved back to San Antonio in October 1847. She took their two-year-old son, George, their daughter, Agatha, and Lizzie, her sister, with her. Maverick took the rest of the family, the servants and the provisions in a wagon. After a five-year absence Mary was surprised to see so many new residents. People seemed to be arriving daily. With Texas a part of the United States, Mexico had finally stopped her attempts to reclaim it. Indian attacks were not as much of a threat, for a great many Indians had been removed to reservations. A peaceful San Antonio attracted people and the population which numbered eight hundred in 1846 jumped to over three thousand by 1850.

The Mavericks were happy to be back in their old home which now had dirt floors because the cement had worn off. Their son, William or "Willie," was born there December 1847. Sorrow soon entered into it, however, when Agatha, the oldest of their daughters, died at the age of seven. Maverick was out on a surveying party locating some headrights. She had not been taken ill until after he had left. They had no way to let him know that she had been sick, or that she had died. He was on his way back into town almost three weeks later when someone along the road told him of her death. The shock of hearing the news in this way and his terrible grief at her death made him a changed man. He was silent. He was sad. He blamed himself for being away when she died. He took no interest in anything.

Mary and his many friends were very worried about him. Jack Hay's, now a colonel, suggested to Mary that she urge Maverick to go with him on a proposed expedition to El Paso. Mary was reluctant. She didn't want him to leave his family again. She did not think he was well enough to undertake such a difficult trip. Hays reminded her that her husband had always enjoyed life in the open. He felt that going on this expedition whose purpose was to open up a better and shorter trading route through the wilds of El Paso would help Maverick overcome his grief. Mary was finally persuaded. At her urging Maverick went along with the famous Chihuahua Expedition. El Paso was the Texas border town across from Chihuahua's principal commercial town, El Paso Del Norte (later named Juarez).

It was a severe trip for the fifty men and their fifteen Delaware Indian guides. When the party lost its way, Maverick partly forgot his grief in his efforts to keep alive. They were forced to eat strange things in order to survive—grass soup, roots, berries, mule meat and polecats. They chewed leather and the tops of their boots to keep their mouths moist when there was no water.

Maverick made only brief entries in his journal on this expedition. He noted the number of miles they travelled and their route. Thirst was the word he used most frequently! Their lack of water was almost worse than the lack of food. The mustang meat wasn't very good, he reported. One of the men in their party went insane because of the terrible conditions. When he wandered off from camp, they took the time to search for him but they did not succeed in finding him.

The half-starved men might have died had it not been for the friendly Indians they met, who guided them on to El Paso. The return journey was much easier, although they had one skirmish with unfriendly Indians. The dangers and the hardships of those three and a half months helped Maverick. He was more like his old self when he returned, but he never seemed to get over his grief for Agatha entirely. He had helped Texas once more, too, because the party had opened up a better trading route to El Paso and Chihuahua, Mexico.

Maverick and Another War

Terror came to San Antonio when the dreaded cholera swept the town in 1849. Over six hundred people died during the six weeks the epidemic lasted. Death came to nearly every family including the Mavericks, whose daughter Augusta died.

For some time Maverick had wanted his home on the ground of the Alamo or near them. The place—where his friends had met the fate that so easily could have been his—had a fascination for him. Now he was even more determined because he felt that living on the higher ground there would be more healthful for his family.

There was considerable disagreement about the ownership of the Alamo. The army claimed it and so did the city. Because it had been used as a fort for so many years, the fact that it had originally been a mission had been forgotten. Maverick, a man of great determination and a man of action, set out to prove to the authorities that the Alamo was a part of the Mission San Antonio de Valero. He finally convinced them. The church leased the Alamo and grounds then until the state of Texas bought it in 1883. At Maverick's request F. Giraud surveyed the site in 1849. Historians still accept his map, which shows the boundary as the inner line of buildings around the wall.

Maverick built his new home on the northwest corner within the old walls of the mission, but outside the boundary line as set by Giraud. Until they moved into the new house, the Mavericks lived in an old Mexican house on the grounds where a son, John Hay, was born. He only lived a few months.

When their new home was finished in 1850, it had two stories, two rooms up, two down, built of stone and of good size. There a daughter, Mary, was born in 1851. Travis Park, in the downtown section of San Antonio, was part of their orchard. San Antonio at that time had a population of thirty-five hundred.

Maverick had been a member of the last congress of the Republic of Texas, and in 1851 he was elected to the fourth legislature of the state of Texas as a member of the house of representatives. He served again in the fifth session. In addition to his public duties, he was active in business and was still practicing law as he had since he first took out a law license in San Antonio in 1838. Truly, he was a busy man; but he always had time for his family, too. They enjoyed driving in the country in the horse and buggy he had bought for them. The children were going to school and attending dancing class. Mary, as women have ever done, was busy raising money for the church by helping to give suppers.

Although Samuel Maverick helped make the early history of Texas and was one of the state's outstanding political and business leaders, when people hear the name Maverick, they often think first of the word "maverick." Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary gives two meanings: (1) "An unbranded animal, esp. a motherless calf, formerly customarily claimed by the one first branding it. (2) Colloq. A refractory or recalcitrant individual who bolts his party or group and initiates an independent course." How did this man—whose business interests were not primarily those of a rancher, (although he owned a ranch), whose manner was well reserved and who brought to politics a seasoned, well-balanced and wise mind—happen to have his name used either for unbranded cows or recalcitrant persons? It's an interesting story.

In 1847 Maverick accepted four hundred head of cattle in payment of a twelve-hundred-dollar debt. He kept them on his ranch on the Matagorda Peninsula. When they moved back to San Antonio, he left the ranch and the cattle in charge of his slave, Jack. Jack, it seems, was careless about his work and let the cattle stray.

In 1854 Maverick had the cattle moved to Conquista Ranch which he had established on the bank of the San Antonio River about fifty miles below San Antonio. He probably had the cattle branded at the time they were transferred. Branding was necessary to establish ownership when cattle ranges were not fenced and unbranded cattle could be claimed by anyone. The cattle were wild, and they strayed because Jack continued to neglect his work.

Jack's laziness caused trouble when Maverick sold the cattle to A. Toutant Beauregard some two years later in 1856. Part of the contract was that Beauregard was to round up all the cattle. It was a difficult roundup. Whenever an unbranded yearling was found, they assumed it was Maverick's, or, as they began to say, "a maverick." They branded all of these. Cowboys carried the story in their travels and the term "maverick" was soon used by cowboys all over the United States for any unbranded cattle.

Eventually the word "maverick" was extended to include human strays, that is, people who do not conform, who stray away from the "brand" of an established group or a traditional way of thinking.

The years from 1854 to the outbreak of the Civil War were more peaceful ones. San Antonio was growing and prospering, with a population of eight thousand in 1860. Maverick, always a leader in the financial progress of his city, became a director of the S. A. and M. G. Railroad.

Samuel and Mary Maverick were busy, but often lonesome for their two oldest sons, Sam and Lewis. Sam was in college in Scotland, and Lewis was in a Vermont college. There were still children at home. Two were babies, Albert, born in 1854, and Elizabeth, in 1857. Personal tragedy came once again when Elizabeth died at the age of two.

Another tragedy—nation-wide—was in the making too. Maverick was very much concerned with the political strife in those years before the Civil War. He served as a senator in the state legislature from 1855 through 1858 and in the House of Representatives during the eight session, which met in 1859. Texas was Southern in its attitude toward slavery, for it had been settled primarily by people from the Southern states. Many of its leaders were planters who were chiefly pro-slavery. It was their belief that the South—and Texas—must leave the United States.

Texas had its group of ardent Union men, too, but they were in the minority. On January 28, 1861, when the legislature met in extraordinary session, it passed a resolution 152 to 6 "that the State of Texas should separately secede from the Federal Union." In February the people of Texas voted for it overwhelmingly, 46,129 to 14,679. Secession went officially into effect in March, 1861, just twenty-five years after Texas independence from Mexico had been declared at Washington-on-the-Brazos. Texas joined with the other Southern states in the Confederate States of America. The Confederate flag was the sixth to fly over Texas succeeding the flags of France, Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the United States.

Maverick was a member of the ninth legislature which had voted on secession. Remembering that as a young man he had given up a political life in South Carolina because of the controversy about secession, one would have thought his vote would have been recorded as no. He voted yes. Why? Had his views so radically changed? Was he going along with what he considered would be a majority? Knowing Samuel Maverick to be a man of integrity, the answer to the last question must be a firm no. But in many ways his views had changed. It has been said that the Union guaranteed and protected the sovereignty of the states which made up the Union, and protected the rights of citizens. Once he decided that this sovereignty and these rights were not being maintained in the Union, then he was in favor of secession. It was still a difficult decision for him as it was for so many other men during those perilous times. He did what he thought was right, but it caused him pain.

In February of 1861, Maverick was appointed to the Committee on Public Safety which demanded the surrender of the Union army and all garrisons in Texas, including, of course, those at San Antonio. To their great credit the committee managed this difficult task without bloodshed. It was a peaceful withdrawal, and Texas was spared the destruction which befell other Southern states. Four sons of the Mavericks, George, Sam, Lewis and Willie, saw service in the Civil War. The letters exchanged between them and their parents during this difficult time reveal a wonderful feeling of affection. The Mavericks were a family who enjoyed each other.

In 1862 Maverick once again served as mayor of San Antonio. In 1863 he became the chief justice of Bexar County. For thirty-two years he served in many public capacities.

On September 2, 1870, Samuel A. Maverick died, having given bountifully of his time and energies to his home town and to his state.

The Maverick Heritage

Maverick was called one of the "empire builders of Texas" and at his death was said to be one of the largest landholders in the United States. Although he was a successful businessman, he did not work solely for personal benefit. He gave of his money and possessions to the city he loved and its citizens. Some gifts he gave anonymously, but others are known. At his death he left land for the Alamo Literary Society, of which he was a charter member. In 1858 he had donated four city blocks to St. Mark's Episcopal Church for a building. He also gave to this church a 526-pound bell cast from a cannon buried on the Alamo grounds. He asserted this was one buried by the revolutionists in 1831 and not one used in the famous battle of the Alamo. To the city he gave his orchard, now Travis Park. He gave other gifts of land to benefit his city and to encourage business. He gave large gifts to charity, too. Texas honored his contributions to the state by naming a county for him.

The name Maverick is one not forgotten for Samuel Maverick's children also did much for his city and country. Sam was a prominent businessman, as was Albert. William also served as alderman and one of his sons was a member of the U. S. Diplomatic Service. George promoted the cause of railroads before he left San Antonio to practice law in St. Louis, Missouri. George's daughter, Rena Green, prominent in San Antonio's life, was the editor of Mary Maverick's memoirs which tell us so much about Maverick. His daughter Mary married Edwin H. Terrell, United States ambassador to Belgium. Albert, who was active in building activities in the business center of town, was also an ardent conservationist. His son Maury, Samuel A. Maverick's grandson, was a prominent Texas political figure. He served in the United States Congress and as mayor of San Antonio. He was interested in preserving old San Antonio and was responsible for the law which made San Jose Mission a national historic site in 1935. When mayor, he obtained authority from the federal government in 1939 to restore La Villita, the old town. Maury Maverick, Jr., Maury's son, is well known in political and business circles in Texas.

The Mavericks are a splendid example of a fine American family. They have lived up to the reputation Samuel Maverick established. Like him, they have worked for their city, state and country in public and in private life. Samuel Maverick, a just man, a man of integrity, a man of honor, has lived on in them.

Kathyryn and Irwin Sexton

Texas Homes


Historians of early Anglo settlement in Texas often face a key question regarding life on the frontier: to what extent did immigrants adapt to their new environments, and to what extent did they alter the new environment to resemble the old? The look of early Texas dwellings was certainly affected by the availability of various materials, leading to houses made of adobe, wood, brick, or stone. But the way in which those materials were used says volumes not only about the cultural backgrounds of those settlers but also about the rich variety that could be found in any one family's cultural baggage.

In thirty-two years of married life Samuel Augustus Maverick and his wife Mary Adams Maverick lived in seven houses. This strikingly high number is due in part to the fact that the Mavericks rented two houses early in their San Antonio residence, purchased a third, built two houses elsewhere in Texas, and rented one more house in San Antonio while building their final residence.

In their early years in San Antonio they adapted their houses to the local architectural vernacular (which was, of course, Hispanic), but later built a log cabin, then a raised cottage before building a house that recalled Sam's native South Carolina, a house situated in the very shadow of the former Spanish mission known as the Alamo.

And while the house types in which they lived were either Hispanic or Anglo, the hands that built some of those houses belonged to African Texans and German Texans. Although none of the Mavericks' houses survive, the memoirs of Mary Adams Maverick, combined with documentation of the structures, gives us unusually good data as to how one Texas family adopted and modified several Texas vernacular traditions before building a house form that was deeply rooted in Sam's youth.

To understand the cultural environment of San Antonio in the 1830s and 1840s, it is necessary to delineate the roots of Sam and Mary Maverick in the American South and Sam's role in the Texas Revolution. Samuel Augustus Maverick was born in 1803 in the Pendleton District of South Carolina, in the far western part of the state. Though Pendleton was a raw, recently settled area, the elder Maverick was a Charleston merchant. Young Maverick lived both in urban Charleston and in the country at Pendleton until 1810, when the family permanently located to the latter location. Young Sam attended Yale, graduating in 1825, and subsequently studied law in Winchester, Virginia. Returning to South Carolina, he became involved in politics, but, as an opponent of John C. Calhoun's view that the states had the right to nullify any national law, Maverick realized that his chances of political advancement in his native state were remote. After briefly settling in southern Alabama, he decided to explore the possibility of moving to Texas. He entered Texas for the first time in April 1835, and arrived in San Antonio that September.

When Sam Maverick arrived in San Antonio in the fall of 1835, he found a town that was the most populous in Spanish Texas. It was defined by the mission of San Antonio de Valero on the east side of the San Antonio River and the Presidio of San Antonio de Bexar on the west side. The presidio created what became known as the Military Plaza, which by 1749 included the house of the commander of the presidio.

After an influx of settlers from the Canary Islands in 1731, the Main Plaza was laid out just to the east of the Military Plaza; with the construction of a parish church, San Fernando, the area on the west side of the river was often called the villa of San Fernando de Bexar.

Though four other missions were founded downriver, San Antonio remained centered on its three plazas.

In the fall of 1835 Anglo American colonizers were concluding that the repressive measures of Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna could be opposed only through armed conflict. One month later Mexican Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cós arrived with troops, determined that Bexar should remain a part of Mexico. Both the presidio and the Alamo mission were quickly fortified by Mexican troops. Maverick found himself placed under house arrest, but was freed in time to fight in the house-to-house combat that was the culmination of the siege of Bexar. Maverick was present when Ben Milam, the commander of the Texian forces, was shot and killed at the Veramendi house, just north of the Main Plaza.

The revolutionaries, who included both Anglos and Mexicans, forced Cós to surrender and retreat to the south.

The Texians secured the now-abandoned Alamo, and the talk of the town turned to the election of delegates to the convention to declare independence and draw up a constitution, which was to be held at Washington-on-the-Brazos. The residents of San Antonio—almost entirely Mexican—refused to allow the Alamo defenders to vote, considering these transients rather than residents. The Texians at the Alamo responded by holding their own election on February 1, 1836, and chose Sam Maverick as one of two delegates to represent them. Later that month Gen. Santa Anna arrived with his own forces and those of General Cós, and laid siege to the Alamo. Maverick remained at the Alamo until March 1, and did not arrive at Washington until after the vote for independence had been taken. He was in Washington, however, when word arrived that Santa Anna's troops had overrun the garrison on March 6, killing all 187 defenders. Maverick remained there until the independence convention had finished its business, then returned to Alabama to take care of his own affairs.

In Tuscaloosa Sam Maverick met Mary Ann Adams. Mary must have had a refined air about her, as Tuscaloosa was then the capital of Alabama, as well as home of the University of Alabama, which opened in 1831. The town was graced by a number of neoclassical buildings designed by the state architect, English-born William Nichols, including the capitol, the university, and Christ Episcopal Church, of which Mary was a member. Sam and Mary quickly fell in love, and they were married in the summer of 1836. After visiting with family in Alabama and South Carolina, the Mavericks returned to Texas at the beginning of 1838.

The Mavericks moved to Texas with an entourage of enslaved servants. From the Maverick side came Wiley, who drove the wagon; Jinny Anderson, a cook and Maverick's former nurse; and Jinny's four children. Mary's mother, Agatha Adams, gave her daughter three slaves: Rachel, a nurse, and Griffin and Granville, adult males. In 1845 Samuel would purchase four more African Americans for use as slaves. Frances and her son Simon, Nora, a seamstress; and William, a carpenter. The Mavericks owned more slaves than the typical Bejareño slaveholder: in 1850, when there were only 389 enslaved African Americans in Bexar County, they owned two adult males and eight females; by 1860, when the number of slaves in the county had increased to 1,395, they owned two males and sixteen females. Most slaveholders in the county owned five or fewer slaves. The Maverick family's ownership of nearly twenty slaves was one of the clearest indications that they represented the values—and vices—of the American South.

The first San Antonio house of Sam and Mary Maverick was rented from Don Jose Cassiano, who owned a house on the west side of the Main Plaza, with the Church of San Fernando to the north and Dolorosa Street to the south.

The house ran halfway back to the Military Plaza. Don Jose was renting the front room of this house to Mary's brother William Adams, for use as a store, and he offered to let the Mavericks live in the back while getting settled. The Mavericks spent about two and a half months in the house, from their arrival on June 15, 1838, until the first of September. At that point they rented a house on Soledad Street from the Huizar family.

Mary noted in her memoirs that these Huizars were descended from Pedro Huizar, who had crafted the portals of the San José Mission. The house was just north of the Veramendi house, which had been the scene of Maverick's service in the siege of Bexar. Though the Mavericks made no notable changes to either house, their choice of two dwellings either on or near the Main Plaza is evidence that they preferred their residence to be in the center of a bustling town rather than to be secluded in a suburb.

In January 1839 Sam Maverick was elected to a one-year term as mayor of San Antonio, beginning a political career that would also include service as an alderman and as a representative in the Texas legislature. In that same month he purchased the old Barrera place at Soledad and Commerce streets, at the northwest corner of Main Plaza.




This was the first house in San Antonio that the family owned, and here they began to make improvements.

Mary Maverick recalled that the main house was of stone and had three rooms, plus a shed attached on the east side of the northernmost room. The room at the corner of Houston and San Antonio, closest to the Main Plaza, had doors opening onto both streets. This Mary referred to as "the store-room," but Sam probably used this as his land office, the home base for his far-flung real estate empire. North of this was a "long room," in Mary's phrase, a longer, rectangular space. North of this was what Mary called the north room, which was most likely a dining room. The shed was east of this room, toward the river. The house backed up to a bend in the San Antonio River, shaded by "a grand old cypress" growing at the De la Zerda place next door.

Sam and Mary made significant changes to their new old house. They reinforced the shed with new adobe walls and divided it into a kitchen and a servant's room. They built an additional servant's room fronting on Soledad Street, separated from the main house by a gateway, or "zaguan." This echoed the zaguan of the Veramendi house just up the street, and like the Veramendi zaguan it probably had a smaller door for pedestrians set within the frame of the larger door for horses and wagons.

The presence of a long room marked the Barrera house as an elite residence. As Mary noted, "all considerable houses had a long-room for receptions." Theodore Gentilz's painting Fandango: Spanish Dance documents such a space. Though it has been claimed that the painting depicts the long room in the house of the presidio captain, now known as the Spanish Governor's Palace, the scene could have been in any number of elite houses in town, including the nearby Veramendi house. (The long room in the "Governor's Palace" is the only long room still extant.) The Mavericks divided their long room into two rooms, probably a parlor and a bedchamber. The partition was a brick wall with a fireplace, decorated with a mantelpiece.

In their remodeling, the Mavericks created an amalgam of Spanish and Anglo tendencies. Their use of adobe as a building material and their use of a zaguan gateway as the principal work entry showed considerable willingness to adapt to the local vernacular. Of course, their choice was the vernacular of the Mexican upper class: they did not purchase a rude jacal consisting of stakes driven into the ground, but a solid stone house with a long room. While the Mavericks could subdivide old rooms and add new ones, they could not change the linear nature of the rooms; there was no central passage to act as a receiving area, as had been the case in Anglo American houses for nearly a century. The rooms were invariably open to friends, family, and slaves.

The domain of the family's enslaved servants stretched from the north end of the property on Soledad Street to the kitchen, the yard, and the river. The zaguan led from Soledad Street into the yard, near which the Mavericks built a stable. One servant's room fronted Soledad Street on the north side of the zaguan, the other was deeper in the complex, beyond the kitchen. The two rooms housing enslaved servants may have reflected gender distinctions. The room off the kitchen was probably reserved for the female slaves: Jinny, the Maverick cook, her four children, and Rachel, the Maverick nursemaid. It seems most likely that Jinny asserted her authority over this room, the kitchen, and the adjacent yard. The room north of the zaguan was probably occupied by the male slaves Griffin and Granville. The arrangement seems unusual compared to arrangements in other urban slaveholding establishments in that the Mavericks did not block their slaves' access to the street; indeed, the male slaves' room may have served as something of a guard house.

The yard was entirely reserved for the slaves and their work: while such activities took place in the northern part of the yard, the southern part—with gardens and the bath house—was reserved for the family. These two parts of the yard were separated by "a strong but homely picket fence." This separation must have broken down on a weekly basis, however, as the bath house was also the place where the laundry was done. As more businesses opened up on the north side of Commerce Street, however, privacy for bathing diminished, and the Mavericks and other Anglo families took to bathing in more secluded stretches of the river.

The perception of space in the Barrera-Maverick house is nowhere better appreciated than in Mary's description of what she latter termed "A Day of Horrors." This was March 19, 1840, when sixty-five Comanches were in San Antonio to negotiate the release of hostages, a parley that went terribly wrong. Mary watched the proceedings from the yard of her friend, Mrs. Thomas Higginbotham, who lived across Commerce Street from the Mavericks and just north of the courthouse. Suddenly a "deafening war-whoop sounded in the Court room," and the Comanches drew their arrows and fired, killing both the county judge and the sheriff; San Antonians returned fire with their rifles. Mary and Mrs. Higginbotham ran into the latter's house. Mary did not stop but headed straight through the house and across Commerce to her own door. "Two Indians ran past me on the street and one reached my door as I got in. He turned to raise his hand to push it just as I beat down the heavy bar; then he ran on." Mary rushed on to the north room only to find Sam and her brother Andrew sitting at a table studying some survey plats. They had not heard a thing. She quickly informed them and dashed into the yard looking for her children, shouting, "Here are Indians! Here are Indians!" This was quite accurate, as three Comanches had entered through the zaguan and were making for the river. Jinny, the Maverick's enslaved cook, "stood bravely in front of the children, mine and hers, and I heard her cry out to the Indian, 'If you don't go 'way from here I'll mash your head with this rock!'" Mary recalled that "the Indian seemed regretful that he hadn't time to dispatch Jinny and her brood, but his time was short, and . . . he dash down the bank into the river." With her children safely inside, Mary watched from the Soledad Street door, and even wandered out into the street, even though the fight was far from over, and five Comanches lay dead in Commerce Street. "I was just twenty-two then," she recalled, "and was endowed with a fair share of curiosity."

Away from San Antonio the family built in a very different manner. In 1842, the reinstated General Santa Anna once again invaded Texas, causing many Texans to flee San Antonio. In March, Sam, Mary, their three children, and their slaves removed to Fayette County, just across the Colorado River from the county seat, La Grange. Sam almost immediately returned to San Antonio. He was taken captive by Mexican troops and marched to Mexico, where he was imprisoned until April 1843. Two of the family's enslaved servants, Granville and Wiley, built the Maverick's new house with assistance from a local man, Griffith Jones. Mary Maverick remembered the dwelling as "a log cabin of one room sixteen by eighteen feet, one smaller for a kitchen, and a shed room for Jinny and the children." The next year the Maverick's enslaved craftsmen enlarged the house with help from Mary's brother William, who was visiting from Alabama. This was "another log cabin, adjacent to the one previously built, leaving a passage or a hall between them. In this hall we usually sat when the weather was fair." Such log houses were the predominant housing form for pioneering Texans in the 1830s and 1840s.

That enslaved African Americans Granville and Wiley built the Mavericks' log cabin was not unusual for antebellum Texas, for enslaved artisans were employed on many building projects. In Austin the master builder, Abner Cook, used enslaved artisans to help construct the new State Capitol and the Governor's Mansion. Indeed, Frederick Law Olmsted noted that some slaveholders in Austin rented out their servants to work on the Capitol building. The brick walls of Ashton Villa in Galveston were laid by Aleck, a trained mason who was owned by the merchant James Moreau Brown. And African American slave craftsmen were responsible for many log houses and cabins.

Mary's recollection that the initial log house measured sixteen by eighteen feet corresponds exactly with what Terry Jordan characterized as a square or roughly square floor plan (as opposed to rectangular or elongated). The roughly square plan was the predominant type in that state. Mary's use of the term log cabin rather than log house suggests that the logs were left round and that they were, in Jordan's phrase, "crudely notched and projecting beyond the corners." Such cabins were widely viewed as impermanent houses, to be replaced by hewn log houses. If such cabins survived, they were used to house slaves.

Mary Maverick clearly indicated that the construction of the house was incremental. Even though the main house was just one room, the kitchen and living quarters for servants were separate. In this the Mavericks and their enslaved craftsmen followed long-standing Southern tradition. She also made clear that the development of the double pen with a central passage was a response to the Texas heat. Such an open passage or dog trot, growing out of a standard eighteenth-century Georgian-era plan, could be found across the lower South from Georgia to East Texas. Mary did not use the term dog-trot, but she did emphasize its use as a space for living in warm weather.

Mary also noted that her brother built in the passage "a settee or lounge with curtain frame around it; and this was intended for gentleman visitors who should remain all night." This may well reflect a desire to provide accommodation to travelers, though Mary seems to be saying that it would be occupied by those who were already visiting, and not simply strangers in need of a bed. The provision of a bed for gentlemen also speaks to the important issue of safety: Mary, her children, and the slaves lived most of the time there without Sam Maverick. A curtained settee for male visitors encouraged them to stay overnight, yet it was a space separate from the family's own space. The settee thus neatly balanced the safety of the family with concerns for propriety.

In 1845, the year in which the Republic of Texas agreed to join the United States, the Maverick family moved to Decrow's Point, near Matagorda, on the Gulf of Mexico. Maverick had made substantial investments in land there and apparently hoped to build a number of houses. While on a business trip to Charleston in December 1845 he bought four additional African Americans to use as slaves, including William, a twenty-four-year-old carpenter. Sam seems to have purchased William with the idea that he might provide much of the skilled labor needed to build houses at Decrow's. William proved to be unruly and uncooperative, however, and he was sent to New Orleans to be sold.

In the first four months of 1847, as the United States Army fought Santa Anna in the Mexican-American War, the Mavericks built a new house on the Gulf of Mexico at Decrow's Point. Mary noted that they built the kitchen and other outbuildings first and lived in those while the main house was under construction. Presumably William, the Maverick's enslaved carpenter, did much of the work on this house before he was sold. Sam Maverick also worked on the house, to his detriment: on March 19 he tripped on a loose step, fell twelve feet, and landed on his shoulder. He was incapacitated for close to three weeks. Their house was built of wood, three stories tall, with eight rooms. Mary wrote that "it was very roomy and commanded a fine view of both the bay and the gulf . . . so we all enjoyed greatly the new, clean cool, roomy house."

That the house was three stories tall suggested that it was a raised cottage with utility rooms below and the principal rooms above. It was most likely similar to the early houses of elites in Galveston, Texas, such as the Samuel May Williams House, which were adaptations of Creole house forms common along the Gulf Coast.

Originally the Williams House rested on ten-foot-high brick piers; the principal floor had a parlor, sitting room, and dining room, and five bedrooms were fitted under the steeply pitched hipped roof. Mary recalled that their house was "very substantially built, and calculated to resist a very considerable storm." Indeed, the Texas coast had been struck by a hurricane in October 1837. Mary recalled that they "were aware great storms might come and destructive cyclones at equinoxal times, and we often talked of going back to San Antonio." Though Mary loved the house on the coast, Sam's land dealings tied him ever more closely to San Antonio and West Texas, and the family left for Bexar in October of 1847.

The Mavericks still owned their house at the northeast corner of the Main Plaza, but Mary noted that the town did not seem as healthy as it had in the early forties. She wrote that "I felt that I could not live any longer at the old place, and Mr. Maverick, too did not want to live there. We concluded that the high ground on the Alamo Plaza would be a more healthful location." San Antonio had suffered through a cholera epidemic in 1849, which took the life of Sam and Mary's six-year-old daughter Augusta. This came just a year after the death of seven-year-old Agatha, so the old house was not only in the most crowded part of town but also held painful memories of the deaths of two of their children.

The Mavericks may also have been motivated to move because of the run-down appearance of their old house, in spite of an ever-increasing fortune that would have allowed them to build a new one. Mary's sister Lizzie teased her, "I understand that you are having a new house built. I am very glad to hear it for I am tired of being so often told of the old ruins in which you live." She reminded her sister that people remarked, "I wonder why Mr. Maverick doesn't live in a better house." Sam had gained a reputation not only for great wealth but also for frugality to the point of eccentricity; a new house would be more appropriate for a family of their wealth and stature.

Perhaps another issue was that while Sam and Mary had cordial relations with the Mexican elite of San Antonio, they were not close friends. Mary noted that while they exchanged calls with leading families such as the Navarros, Seguins, Veramindis, and Yturris, she "never felt like being at all intimate." She did not want the children to spend much time with the children of the Mexican elites "because they let theirs go almost naked." Mary thus sketched out the gulf between the mores of Victorian-era Anglos and Mexicans. And given that these families all lived on or near the Main Plaza, the Mavericks were apparently not disturbed at the thought of moving farther away.

The family moved in July 1849 from the Main Plaza to the Alamo Plaza. Sam had acquired land near the old mission church and convento, at the northwestern edge of the plaza in 1841. Between 1844 and 1849 he bought four large parcels of land between the Alamo Plaza and the San Antonio River. At first the family occupied "an old Mexican house" on the west side of the plaza and on the south side of what would become Houston Street, across from the site where they would build their new house.

Indeed, this house probably incorporated a room (or rooms) from the west wall of the mission enclosure, which had served one hundred years before as apartments for Indian converts. It was bounded on the north and west by the Alamo acequia, which was by then abandoned. The Mavericks would spend nearly a year and a half in this house, as work did not begin on the new house until June 1850, and they did not move in until the first of December. Mary did not note any changes the family made to the house; perhaps all their energy went into planning the new structure. Indeed, her only comment about their latest temporary abode was made in connection with the new house, which they found "very nice, after the old Mexican quarters we had occupied for over a year."

The neighborhood into which they moved was not only predominantly Mexican but also predominantly poor. When Frederick Law Olmsted visited town in 1854, he found the Alamo "a mere wreck of its former grandeur," and in use as an arsenal by the U.S. Quartermaster. He described the Alamo Plaza as "all Mexican. Windowless cabins of stakes, plastered with mud and roofed with river-grass, or 'tula'; or low, windowless, but better thatched, houses of adobes (gray, unburnt bricks), with groups of brown idlers lounging at their doors." Interestingly, Olmsted chose not to mention the Maverick House, sitting prominently at the northwest corner of the plaza.

Sam and Mary Maverick moved with an awareness that things were changing on the Alamo Plaza, however. In 1849 the U.S. Department of War named San Antonio headquarters for all army operations in Texas, and on January 1, 1850, Jean Marie Odin, the Catholic Bishop of Texas, agreed to rent the entire Alamo compound to the army for $150 per month. Maj. Edwin Burr Babbitt, the chief quartermaster for San Antonio, recommended to Gen. Thomas S. Jessup that the Alamo buildings be demolished and new ones erected, but Jessup overruled this suggestion. In the spring of 1850 Babbitt reroofed the mission church, adding a second floor and a curvilinear parapet. Maverick also rented an adjacent lot to the army for $20 per month. The mission church was used for the rather mundane purpose of storing foodstuffs, but the army's occupancy meant that the building would not deteriorate any further. Others also saw the eastern side of town as ripe for redevelopment: in 1859 John Fries and J.H. Kampmann began to build a large new hotel, to be known as the Menger Hotel, just south of the Alamo. In that same year, Sam Maverick acquired another large parcel of land northwest of Alamo Plaza; from this land the Mavericks would eventually donate Travis Park to the city, and, on the north side of the park, the site for St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

Ultimately, though, the selection of Alamo Plaza as the site for the Maverick House was a very personal one for Sam Maverick. In an 1846 letter to Mary, Sam referred to the Alamo as "the old Golgotha." This Aramaic word for skull denotes the hill where Jesus Christ was crucified, known in its Latin form as Calvary. In more modern times Golgotha had taken on the connotations of a graveyard or charnel house. Maverick thus remained intensely aware of the human sacrifice that had taken place on that spot little more than a decade earlier and may have been using the term not only in its generic sense, but also to draw an analogy between the sacrifice of the Alamo defenders and Christ himself. The next year he wrote to S.M. Howe, a U.S. Army officer in San Antonio, "I have a desire to reside on this particular spot, a foolish prejudice no doubt as I was almost a solitary escape[e] from the Alamo massacre having been sent by those unfortunate men [to the independence convention]." If Sam and Mary had their bedchamber in the south room upstairs, they may well have had a remarkable view of the old mission that had played such a memorable role in their own lives and in the history of their state.




An 1877 photograph shows that the Maverick House was a two-story block with the gables at the north and south end and a two-story gallery on the west side. The south wall had one window on each floor, and the longer west side had three per floor. The roof began several feet above the lintels of the second floor window, suggesting that the attic contained usable space. No dormers were visible, but the gable end has what appears to be a ventilator. The narrowness of the chimney suggests that it served cast-iron stoves rather than traditional fireplaces. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of 1885 and 1888, when the property had become a boardinghouse, make sense of the outbuildings visible in the photograph and document features not visible in the photograph.

The two-story gallery was actually L-shaped, attaching the main block of the house to a two-story kitchen. Connecting the main house and kitchen with a gallery was fairly typical in larger houses in Texas and, indeed, elsewhere in the South, but less typical was the fact that the kitchen was not situated behind the main house, but to the north and west of the main block. The longer south façade of the kitchen looked toward Houston Street, so that the main block and kitchen formed a courtyard.

The second floor of the kitchen may have housed some of the Mavericks' enslaved servants, but it could also have been separate living quarters for the older Maverick boys. Samuel was thirteen in 1850 and Lewis was eleven, though at five and three George and William were rather young to be apart from their parents. Whatever the function of the upper room of the kitchen block, the Sanborn Maps also indicate the presence of a one-story building north of the main house, with a south-facing front porch and a connector to the main house. This northernmost building may have housed the male slaves, just as room north of the zaguan had housed them in the old house on Main Plaza. Even in the 1880s, when the property was a boardinghouse, this building was labeled as a "servant's room." The Sanborn Maps cannot tell us whether either the kitchen or the servant's room date to 1850, but both are visible in an 1873 bird's-eye view of the city.

By this time, Sam had passed away but Mary was living there; clearly these outbuildings had been there for some time.

A final outbuilding is known through both the photograph and the Sanborn Maps: the Maverick Land Office. This was a low-roofed one-story building with front and back rooms, both lit by eastern windows. The door opened directly onto Houston Street, meaning that visitors to the land office did not have to enter the yard of the house. At the old house on the Main Plaza, the office was in the main block of the house nearest the plaza, but here the commercial aspects of the complex were strictly separated from the residential.

The Sanborn Maps also reveal that most of the buildings in the Maverick compound were made of stone: the main house, kitchen, servant's room, and land office. The only frame structures were two small outbuildings, one west of the kitchen and another west of the servant's room. The use of stone was traditional in important San Antonio buildings, such as the eighteenth-century missions and the residence of the presidio commander, though poorer folk lived in one-room jacales, with walls of wooden posts driven into the ground.

The form of the Maverick House was highly unusual for an Anglo family in San Antonio. The house of John James, a business partner of Maverick's, was a far more typical Anglo Texan house. James's main house was a squarish block set back from the street, with galleries on both the front and rear elevations; the kitchen, a separate building behind the main house, had only a front gallery. Both the first floor of the main house and the kitchen were built of stone; later Sanborn Maps show a frame second floor to the main house, which may have been a later addition. Both the way in which the James House related to the street and the relation between house and kitchen marked it as being more conventionally Anglo Texan.

An even more imposing Anglo Texan house was that of James Vance, a New York-born merchant and banker. This house, built south of the Main Plaza, was two stories high and had a partially submerged basement. Both the principal front, facing in the direction of the plaza, and the rear elevation had colonnades with Greek Revival box columns. A central passage with a staircase ran through the house on the ground floor and the upper two floors. The entire house was built of stone, and family tradition claims that the architect builder was John Fries, a German stonemason. Olmsted observed that "the American dwellings stand back, with galleries and jalousies and a garden picket fence against the walk," which could describe the James, Vance, or Maverick houses.

The Maverick house in San Antonio was also different from that designed by relatives back in South Carolina. Montpelier, Sam's father's house in Pendleton, in the western part of the state, burned early in 1850. The senior Maverick had recently suffered a stroke, and so the task of rebuilding fell to his son-in-law William Van Wyck. The new house, built a short distance from the old one, featured a central passage and four rooms downstairs and up, a plan characteristic of many Greek Revival, Federal, and Georgian houses. Four square piers create a two-story central portico; more unusual was the cast-iron balcony to the right of the entrance portico, which opened into the drawing room. Although the Maverick-Van Wyck house was some 245 miles inland from Charleston, it featured a typical central passage plan and fashionable neoclassical ornament.

The Maverick house was unlike other Anglo Texan houses in San Antonio or the house of Sam's brother-in-law in South Carolina; however, the house possessed a number of characteristics associated with the house form known as the Charleston single house.

This form developed in Charleston, South Carolina, in the mid-eighteenth century. The simplest definition is a house with only one room fronting the street. By the latter eighteenth century, single houses would have a two-story gallery, preferably facing south. Any garden would be in front of this gallery, and the main entrance would be on the center of this façade. In plan the house would have a central passage with a room on each side, and it would have two or three stories. Often the long wall opposite the gallery would have the fireplaces and no windows, almost as if it were expected that another house was to be built adjoining that wall. Usually the kitchen, laundry, and slave quarters would be placed to the rear of the property.

The Maverick house showed a single room to Houston Street, with a gallery on the side. A letter from Mary to her son Lewis in 1863 provides evidence that there were in fact three rooms downstairs, a fact supported by the three equal-sized windows in the surviving photograph. She specifies that these rooms were the north room, the dining room, and the sitting room. The absence of an entrance hall or stair hall is significant. Central passages were common in eighteenth-century houses in the eastern states; a design that scholars refer to as the Georgian plan. Even Charleston single houses had central passages, albeit opening onto the garden rather than the street. The Maverick family's arrangement of three downstairs rooms is actually much closer to Creole floor plans of Louisiana. And indeed houses like the Major James Pitot House in New Orleans (built 1799-1805) feature a dining room as the central room on the ground floor. The lack of a stair hall suggests that the main access to the upstairs was from a stair on the gallery, as was the case in such major Louisiana houses of the 1830s as the David Weeks Home, now known as Shadows-on-the-Teche. The Weeks house, having six rooms on each floor is not a single house, but single houses in New Orleans have a gallery on the side and two or three rooms on each floor.

The Maverick house had gardens and a majestic pecan tree—under which Sam Maverick was said to have camped on his first night in San Antonio—just west of the gallery. The kitchen faced the gardens on the north; the slave house was less visible, being directly north of the big house. The house also relates more specifically to the antebellum-era single house, in that the roof was gabled rather than hipped, and two stories rather than three. The principal difference from the typical single house were that the house was set back from the street on the south and east sides, and the fireplaces were most likely not on the long wall opposite the gallery. The wall opposite the gallery had three windows per floor, but this could also be the case in Charleston single houses on corner lots. The Mavericks' lot was in fact a corner lot and would have no near neighbors. Indeed, it might be seen as a suburbanized single house.

The single house was a form with which Sam Maverick was familiar from his youth, and, indeed, he had spent a great deal of time in Charleston as recently as 1845. A few single houses could also be found in Alabama, but these were all in Mobile, on the Gulf Coast, rather than in Mary Maverick's Tuscaloosa. She would have been far more familiar with houses with a central passage, either in their one- or two-story versions. Between Sam and Mary, Sam seems the more likely source for such a plan.

If the plan for a Charleston single house did not come from Sam Maverick, it may have come from Francois Pierre Giraud, who was born in Charleston of French parents. He attended St. Mary's College prep school in Maryland then traveled to France to study at the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures. He was back in the United States by 1842 and came to the new state of Texas in 1847. He became the first city surveyor of San Antonio in 1848 and determined the boundaries of the city and of the mission properties. In fact, Sam Maverick conferred with Giraud about the precise bounds of the mission land at the northwest corner to make sure of his title to the property. During the Civil War, Giraud was chief engineer of defenses at Galveston and served as San Antonio's mayor from 1872 to 1875. His architectural work included the Ursuline Academy, built in phases from 1849 to 1868, and the new San Fernando Cathedral, built between 1868 and 1873 in an austere Gothic style. Although no other houses by Giraud are known, he was certainly capable of obliging his fellow South Carolinian with such a design.

It is less likely that the form of the house was determined by the contractors who built it. The stonework was done by Joseph Schmidt, a German-born mason, and the woodwork by Otto Bombach, a German-born carpenter. Mary noted that Schmidt "pushed the work rapidly" on the Maverick house. Thus both the stonework and woodwork of the Maverick House were thus erected by a group of recent immigrants from Germany, who would have had little familiarity with the single house form.

The single house has been interpreted as an environmental response to heat and humidity and as a response to limited land on which to build in Charleston. Both of these interpretations leave much to be desired. Although the galleries shaded the house from the direct glare of the sun and provided a place where one could catch a cool breeze, the windowless walls abutting the next property were hardly conducive to the circulation of air. And though land may have been a scarce commodity in Charleston, many of the single houses were in fact showy in setting aside space for gardens and other amenities. More recently, Bernard Herman has argued that the single house form was essentially an urban plantation and a tool for social control. Genteel social functions were grouped at the front, while work functions and slave housing were grouped at the rear.

The galleries of the Maverick house can certainly be seen as providing cool and shady spaces in an attempt to cope with the Texas heat, but at the same time other Texas houses had galleries front and back; environment does not explain why the Mavericks chose this arrangement of galleries over more typical Texas arrangements. Nor was lack of land on which to build an issue for the Mavericks: they had sufficient space on their lot to set the house back from Houston Street and D Street. But the arrangement of the Maverick complex does suggest its effectiveness in defining types of space: they made a clear distinction between the rear yard and the front and side yard. The rear yard was defined by the north wall of the big house, the east wall of the kitchen, the south front of the slave house, and the fence separating the yard from D Street. At the same time the placement of the servant house at the north end of the property along D Street made it easy for Maverick slaves to have access to the outside world. Nearer the main house the continuation of the gallery along the front of the kitchen created a shady and more genteel space that also screened the view of the kitchen from the garden and from Houston Street. Although the complex was bounded by a picket fence, it is likely that the daily duties of the Maverick slaves made this a very porous barrier.

The Mavericks continued to live on the Alamo Plaza until Sam's death in 1870. Over time the once-new house began to take on a ramshackle appearance. A somewhat acerbic newspaper article of 1868, reporting his purchase of some 1,650 acres of land, noted that "Maverick lives in the most simple style—fences decaying and buildings crumbling to pieces; yet he is eternally buying land." The house was not yet twenty years old, but its maintenance did not seem to be a high priority for Sam.




Mary continued to live in the house for nearly a decade after Sam's death, but the neighborhood was beginning to change. By the time Augustus Koch did his bird's-eye view of San Antonio in 1873, a two-story grocery store had been built north of the Maverick house, although the block to the west of the Maverick complex was still vacant. In 1877 the U.S. Army moved out of the Alamo complex for the new quarters at Post San Antonio (now known as Fort Sam Houston). The Catholic Church then sold the convento to the merchants Hugo and Schmeltzer, who converted the building into a wholesale liquor and grocery store. The merchants added a false parapet and wooden cannons in an attempt to capitalize on the Alamo's image.

By the time the 1879-1880 city directory appeared, Mary was living with her daughter Mary and her second husband, Edwin Terrell. Their house was on the south side of Travis Park, land that had been donated to the city by the Mavericks. The elder Mary would have found it convenient to stroll to the north side of the park to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, which she and Sam had helped fund. The church was designed by Richard Upjohn of New York in 1859, but it was not completed and consecrated until 1881. Mary noted that "a feeling of local pride has been aroused, even among those who are not of us, that Old San Antonio, in wilderness as she is and almost out of the world as she is thought to be, should possess such a fine church."

She also served for many years as the president of the Alamo Monument Association, which advocated demolishing the liquor and grocery store next to the Alamo and constructing a large monument designed by the English-born Alfred Giles, the first professional architect in San Antonio. Mary's sons Albert and William also had Giles design a commercial building for the west side of Alamo Plaza. This was the Italianate Crockett Block (1882-1883), named for the hero of the battle of the Alamo. After the death of her daughter, Mary lived with her son William in a limestone Romanesque house (1893) designed by Giles. There she lived until her death in 1898.

The 1879-1880 city directory also indicated that James Moore was running a boardinghouse at the northwest corner of Houston and Avenue D, that is, the old Maverick House. The neighborhood had never been particularly residential, in spite of the Mavericks' example, but it was becoming less so all the time. In 1885 Sam and Mary's oldest son, also named Sam, founded the Maverick Bank and built a five-story building across Houston Street from the old house, on the site of the old Mexican house where they had lived for a year and a half. Unfortunately for Sam, the bank did not do well and was out of business by 1892. Across the street to the east the building that housed the U.S. courthouse, customhouse, and post office was completed in 1890—a large Victorian structure that also would have dwarfed the Mavericks' old house. The Maverick House was demolished sometime between 1890 and early 1892. It was replaced by a row of six offices on Houston Street—incorporating the old land office—and five on Avenue D. The Maverick House stood for less than fifty years, succumbing to the tremendous growth of late nineteenth-century San Antonio.

* * *

The Maverick family was fairly typical of nineteenth-century Texas elites: white, Protestant, land wealthy, and slave holding. Sam was less typical in being from South Carolina, while Mary was more typical as a native of Alabama, from which, along with Mississippi and Tennessee, a great many Texans originated. Sam was also atypical in having a college degree from Yale; while Mary, like almost all women of her generation, did not attend college, she did grow up in Tuscaloosa, a town that had recently become a seat of government and higher education. Perhaps Sam, as the partner more enamored of San Antonio, was more adaptable to Hispanic ways, and Mary more concerned with creating a beautiful and refined home. The Barrera-Maverick house on the Main Plaza reflects this tendency to adopt local building customs but also to adapt them with what they saw as Anglo refinements.

On the run from Santa Anna's army, Mary and the children found themselves in a two-pen dog-trot log cabin, which replicated strategies for living in a sultry southern climate and for creating hierarchies between family, visitors, and slaves. This house also replicated a Germanic building technique that had proven useful in a variety of pioneering contexts but, in this case, was used in a collaboration of white and black hands. In her memoirs Mary acknowledged the contribution of both the free gentleman and the enslaved workers.

The three-story house on the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates that the family was willing to embrace yet another vernacular building tradition, Creole cottages of the Gulf Coast. The more general southern tradition of separate kitchens and other outbuildings was maintained, but the extensive use of galleries made the climate and the picturesque views of the gulf most appealing, especially to Mary. This seems to have been the house that was hardest for her to abandon.

Back in San Antonio Sam and Mary's decision to build a Charleston single house on the Alamo Plaza resulted in a house that was quite unusual for Texas, but their house nevertheless maintained the order and symmetry characteristic of Georgian and neoclassical buildings. At the same time, the corner lot and the prominent siting of the kitchen would have made the everyday work of the Mavericks' enslaved servants all the more visible from the street.

Sam Maverick seems to have valued solid construction and ample land over elegant ornamentation, and the description of the Barrera-Maverick house and the one photograph of the house on the Alamo Plaza seem to confirm this preference. The stone walls of the Barrera place were not conducive to dramatic remodeling; the Mavericks contented themselves with subdividing one long room and adding other rooms and structures. The German stonemasons who constructed the single house on the Alamo Plaza also did so with limestone that might be expected to stand for the ages. In both cases, however, the domestic scale of these structures made them less adaptable to other purposes, and, ironically, encouraged their demolition.

The story of the Maverick family and their houses reveals the cultural complexities of life in Texas in the years after independence from Mexico. The Mavericks entered a Hispanic community as the vanguard of Anglo immigration, bringing with them enslaved African Americans and thus the Southern institution of slavery. Within a decade the Tejanos, Anglos, and African Americans were joined by German immigrants, who were to play an increasingly important role in later nineteenth-century San Antonio. The Mavericks almost certainly thought of themselves as part of an Anglo cultural elite, but their Texas homes reveal an open-minded, even experimental attitude that suggests that they valued the contributions of other cultures as well.

Kenneth Hafertepe, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. CIX, No. 1