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D.A. Orviss Papers

Identifier: A-0345

Content Description

Most of the collection are letters about his business, there are two letters from his cousin Harriet Ellen Shawn living in Maine.


  • Creation: 1856-1880

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Illinois-native D. A. Orviss traveled the Mississippi River as a riverboat captain before the Civil War. In 1859, he and W. C. Gillean established a mercantile business, D. A. Orviss and Company, in Jefferson, Texas. From 1860 to 1863, Orviss owned and operated the steamer Texas, and towards the end of the war, he became a Confederate purchasing agent. After the collapse of the Confederacy, Orviss became a U.S. Assistant Treasury Agent and relocated to Illinois with his wife Louisa, née Bush, when the mercantile business failed in 1865. In 1867, the couple moved to Galveston and opened a new mercantile business in Bryan, which Gillean oversaw until the store moved to Calvert in 1869. Orviss then opened several branch stores throughout Central Texas and started speculating in land. Debts and poor harvests forced him to close his business and accept a position at a wholesale firm in Galveston in 1874. Orviss eventually returned to Calvert, where he died in 1895.


Stephens, A. Ray. "D. A. Orviss: Texas Merchant."The Southwestern Historical Quarterly Vol. 65, No. 1 (July 1961): 32-46.

Brisco Center for American History


0.10 Cubic Feet


The collection consists of seven folders and housed with other collections in a banker's box. It is organized at the folder level.

Cultural context


Guide to the D.A. Orviss Papers
Linda Reynolds
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository