Early Life

Although it was the largest town in Texas in 1854, San Antonio had a total population of only about 5300. More than half of these were descendents of Mexico and Spain, many of them native San Antonians. Anglo-Americans numbered considerably less than 2000, and many of these had recently arrived from the eastern states. Seven hundred Germans and Alsatians would be joined in the next few years by increasing numbers of their countrymen. Negro slaves almost equaled the German immigrants in number.

Here on May 7, 1854, Albert Maverick was born in the Maverick homestead at the corner of Alamo Plaza, where the Gibbs Building now (1965) stands. He died in 1947 at the age of 92 years at his home on Sunshine Ranch, which at the time had just been taken into the City of San Antonio.

Albert was the ninth in a family of ten children born to the Texas pioneers, Mary Adams and Samuel Augustus Maverick, and youngest of the six who grew to adult life. An active, healthy boy, with a life-long sense of humor which sometimes led him into trouble, he recalled with some chagrin one of his boyhood capers. Albert and another boy on their ponies, each holding the end of a rope stretched between them, galloped down the road to trip an old Mexican man who was trudging along with a load of wood on his back.

As a boy, Albert became a great friend of the famous scout and Indian fighter, Polycarpio Rodriguez, commonly "Mr. Polly." Some of the most vivid remembrances he carried through life were of hunting and fishing trips with Mr. Polly into hill country above San Antonio, where, even at that time, there was still danger of raids by the dread Comanches. From Mr. Polly he learned all manner of things about the birds and the wild animals; how to find water by watching the bees; how to find a trail through the wilderness; how to be self-reliant.

In 1868, at the age of fourteen, Albert started keeping a diary. At that time he was attending the German-English School, going swimming in the the San Antonio River once or twice every day when weather permitted, and receiving $3.00 a month to cut wood for the large household and to care for the chickens. Rats were a big problem in San Antonio at that time, and unless the young chickens were well housed at night, they would disappear before they reached an age to roost in the trees.

His diary reveals other incidents in his young life. Albert's friend, Will Terrell, had a little green snake for which he had traded 100 marbles, but Albert wanted the snake very much and finally became the lawful owner by giving Will two of his squabs [young pigeons] for it. In May of that year he started to dancing school and became an excellent ballroom dancer.

Times were very hard in San Antonio after the Civil War, but by 1868 the enterprising and intrepid Texas trail drivers were bringing money into the state, and land began to regain some of its value. Albert's father was one of the largest (if not the largest) of landowners in Texas, and so in 1869, when Albert was fifteen, money was available to send him off to school. He went the ninety miles to Bastrop by stagecoach, but as there were only two passengers that day, the extra seats were filled with a pay load of sides of bacon. (This was the Mail Coach, and two months later it was held up and robbed.) Cadet Maverick arrived at Texas Military Institute smelling very much like salt pork. Albert's most vivid remembrance of T.M.I. was the large number of flies in the mess hall and kitchen, for this was many years before the advent of fly screens. At the closing of the school year, the Commandant of the school knocked ten demerits off of Albert's record because his gun had been kept in such fine condition.

In the summer of 1870 Albert's father, Samuel A. Maverick, died, ending a long and very distinguished career as a public servant. On September 12, 1870, Albert left San Antonio for Austin, to which town Texas Military Institute (later incorporated into the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas) had just been moved from Bastrop. Although by modern highway Austin is only 76 miles from San Antonio, our traveler had to spend two nights on the road before reaching there. Five other San Antonio boys departed on the coach which left San Antonio at noon, all bound for T.M.I. Camp was pitched that night on a German farmer's place at New Braunfels and the travelers slept on the open prairie. Somehow during the night all the boys' clothes, except Albert's, disappeared. They were later found tied to the corral fence, and the driver's clothes were found tied to the horses' tails.

On the second day some rain was encountered, and travel was slow. Camp was made near the Blanco River crossing. On the third day the coach passed through Mountain City and reached Austin about 3 P.M.

On his first day at school, Maverick was promoted from Private to Sergeant Major, a rank which he held for some months until he was demoted after being caught at one of his many pranks.

One day while Maverick drilled his squad on the parade grounds, he spied a Negro man dressed in a Yankee uniform and standing on the east side of the grounds watching the military activities. Maverick marched his squad along the east side and when at a safe distance, had them halt and fix bayonets. "About Face, Forward March." When opposite the Negro onlooker came the sharp command: "Column right, Quick time, Charge." The Negro wasted no time, departed in great haste, managing to escape by climbing over a cliff.

Albert stayed at school throughout the Christmas holidays that year, and became very much taken with Miss Lilla Porter of Austin. He visited Dr. Porter's home often and danced with Miss Lilla. "The prettiest girl in the state of Texas,—the very image of love, beauty and perfection itself. Her face is fair to look upon, her eyes bright as diamonds, her hair long and curled and black as charcoal." Albert was sixteen.

On February 25, 1871, the German students at T.M.I. recieved news that Paris had fallen, and there was a great German celebration. Albert did not record his reactions.

Near the end of March, Maverick saw many herds of cattle driven across the Colorado River, and heard the shouts of joy that went up from the drovers as the last beef "took to the water." Albert wrote in his diary: "900 beeves in one herd today; yesterday two droves of 900 each, and the day before that, one drove of 3000." Around 5700 animals headed north in only three days, from one ford, on only one of the rivers in the great state of Texas!

Food was not good at the Institute, and often insufficient to meet the desires of growing boys. Albert took part in many nocturnal foraging parties, not only in the college pantry, but also into the surrounding fields. Chickens and pigs were killed and cooked, and either eaten on the spot or smuggled back into the dormitory.

In 1871-1872 Albert transferred to the Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Virginia, and although he often said in later life that he was never a good student, his diploma states that he graduated "with honor" in Latin, Algebra, Geometry, Orthography and Composition.

Near the end of August, 1875, Albert left San Antonio to enter the University of Virginia. He left by stagecoach which took him through the little town of Houston to the western terminus of the Southern Pacific Railway, then building a line from New Orleans toward the Pacific Coast. He entered the University September 1, and not long thereafter he was taken by a friend to visit at Piedmont, the home of the Jesse Lewis Maury family. At Piedmont he met Jane Lewis Maury, a very small girl of seventeen. Somehow, after this meeting, things were never quite the same.

At the University Albert was noted for his athletic ability and strength and for his good humor, which might on occasion take the form of a practical joke. One morning when it was discovered that the great iron gates at the University entrance had disappeared, the young man from Texas was the first suspect. The gates were very heavy and could hardly have been carried off by one man; and where could they have been hidden? The incident had created quite a furor, which developed into a big mystery at the University. To the best of the writer's knowledge, Albert never admitted or denied having carried off the gates; and they were never found.

A friend and fellow student at the University, William Gordon Robertson (later Judge William G. Robertson of Roanoake, Va.), wrote this entry in his own diary:—"Albert Maverick, San Antonio, Texas. A man, every inch of him. Strong not only in body but mind. True as steel, generous, modest and unassuming. A vein of humor peculiarly his own—one of the best companions and the truest of friends. Not a hard student, too much animal spirit for that—."

At the end of his college year in April, 1876, according to Albert Maverick, his professors at the University told him they liked him very much and that they were giving him passing marks in all his classes, but on one condition:—that he not come back to the University again.


Albert Maverick remained in Paris about seven and one-half months and learned to speak French quite well, but February 25, 1877 found him on board ship bound for America, and Charlottesville, Virginia. He went to Piedmont and told Mr. and Mrs. Maury that he intended to stay until he was permitted to take Jane back to Texas as his bride. He brought with him twenty-one boxes of things he had bought in Europe. These were mostly presents for Jane.

Albert Maverick, aged 22 years 10 months, and Jane Lewis Maury, aged 18 years 3 months, were married at Piedmont on March 20, 1877. They came to make their home in San Antonio, arriving only a few weeks after the first passenger train reached that town.

About two years later the Albert Mavericks bought a large ranch in the hill country near Bandera and went there to live. Their second child, Agatha, was born at the ranch with the help of a ranch-country midwife. Life was very happy for a time at the ranch, where there were many visitors, until one of those devastating droughts hit the hill country. Lack of modern day transportation facilities made it impossible to ship in feed or to ship cattle to greener pastures. They died by the hundreds on the Maverick lands, by the thousands through that whole section, and the family returned to San Antonio where Jane and Albert reared eleven children.

Distinguished guests visiting in San Antonio often enjoyed the hospitality of the Mavericks. During the period of the Texas land boom of the 1880’s, Albert was very active in real estate, buying additional properties, and taking part in various developmental projects. A severe depression spread throughout the country in 1891, and in the ensuing panic Albert Maverick lost most of his fortune.

In 1905 the Albert Maverick family moved from 218 Avenue E to a new home at Sunshine Ranch just outside of San Antonio, where their hospitality continued to the extent of entertaining as many as 3,000 persons on their fiftieth anniversary. Albert continued his work in the Maverick Land Office, where he helped to manage the estates of his brothers and their families until he retired at age 87. He died at 92, a beloved patriarch.

A Maverick Abroad

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