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Watts Family Papers

Identifier: A-0126

Scope and Contents

The Watts Family Papers contain original correspondence, land documents, legal and financial papers pertaining to several generations of the Watts family. The geographic range of the collection includes Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Texas, with special emphasis on San Augustine County, Texas.

Notable items in the collection from an historical perspective are the letters of James Pinckney Henderson, dating from 1843 to 1857. As a lawyer friend residing in San Augustine, Henderson advised William W. Watts about the debt collection business. At least three of the letters relate to Henderson's initially secret mission to negotiate a treaty of annexation between the United States and Texas in 1844. Henderson was inaugurated Governor of Texas in February 1846.

The collection also contains teaching certificates authorizing John Watts to teach second grade in San Augustine County in 1881 and 1882.


  • 1806-1964

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical or Historical Information

John Watts, a son of Arthur Watts, was born about 1752 in Virginia. A participant in the American Revolution, he enlisted in the Virginia Dragoons as a Cornet on June 17, 1776. By the end of the war he had achieved the rank of Captain. Later he served as Lieutenant Colonel in the Light Dragoons, U.S. Army, from January 8, 1799 until June 8, 1800. According to descendant Jessie Watts Roberts, John Watts was a personal friend of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. John Watts was awarded 4,944 acres in Bedford County, Virginia for his military service. John Watts married Elizabeth (Betsy) Roberts and according to John's will, they had two sons and a daughter still living in 1830: Arthur (1809-1866), William W. Watts (d. ca. 1846), and Elizabeth R. Watts Scott. The William W. Watts married Mary Leyburn and had two children Sarah C. Watts and John Watts. The family lived in Liberty, Virginia; Delaware Springs, Ohio; and Columbus, Mississippi. William W. Watts traveled frequently to arrange for the collection of debts, in and out of court, for which he received a commission. William W. Watts' son John Leyburn Watts was born about 1824 in Virginia. He married Mary Frances Garner (1837-1896) and they lived the remainder of their lives on a farm in San Augustine. According to census records, they had at least four sons and three daughters. In 1855, John was appointed a Deputy US Marshall by Marshall Ben McCulloch. William W. Watts' daughter Sarah C. was born in Bedford County, Virginia, and attended Leroy Anderson's female school in Williamsburg, Va. ("Watts Family Papers." East Texas Research Center. Ralph W. Steen Library. Stephen F. Austin State University).


1.50 Cubic Feet


Correspondence, land documents, legal and financial papers of this San Augustine County family. Family members also lived in Virginia, Ohio, Mississippi and items in the collection relate to those places. Includes correspondence with James Pinckney Henderson, the first Governor of the State of Texas.


This collection has 376 items, is described in 75 folders and is housed in three clamshell boxes. It is organized at the folder level.

Guide to the Watts Family Papers
Jean White, Pam Palmer
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository