Albert Gallatin Van Pradelles
Cotton Merchant of Wallisville, Texas
By W. T. Block and Kevin Ladd
With Special Gratitude to Joanna C. Scott of Chapel Hill, North Carolina
As one wanders through the silent, oak-studded spaces of the Wallisville, Texas cemetery, near where the tidal outflows of Trinity River reach the sea, one is immediately immersed with the sense of unwritten East Texas history which surrounds him. Tombstones bear names like Chambers, Beckwith, Dunman, Gordon, Middleton, LaFour, Kilgore, Mayes, Van Pradelles, and many others—names which stretch from the battlegrounds of San Jacinto to the capitol lawn in Austin.
One name in particular, Albert Gallatin Van Pradelles, a principal cotton chandler of Trinity River, is the subject of this treatise; and the research surrounding him carries one back to French Revolutionary Paris, the Battle of Yorktown, Lord Baltimore’s colony, the territory and state of Kentucky, the folklore of Jean Lafitte, old New Orleans, and of course, the Republic of Texas.
A. G. Van Pradelles was born in New Orleans on Oct. 29, 1808, and his father, being an admirer of President Jefferson’s Secretary of Treasury, named him Albert Gallatin. His parents were Benedict Francis Van Pradelles, an American Revolutionary soldier, and Cassandra Deye Owings of Baltimore.1 Benedict was born on Aug. 31, 1753 in Bailleul, Nord, France, the son of Eugene Francis Van Pradelles and Anne Catherine Massiet.2
On April 10, 1777 Benedict enlisted as a lieutenant in the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment, under command of General Count de Rochambeau. He sailed from Brest, bound for the American colonies, on April 4, 1780, and his regiment was decommissioned on Oct. 28, 1781, only 9 days following the Battle of Yorktown and Lord Cornwallis’ surrender of the British armies.3
One question has arisen concerning his activities prior to his marriage in 1790, nine years later. One possibility is that he was hired by John Cockey Owings of Baltimore after 1787 to go to Kentucky as his representative, and where Owings owned large land holdings as well as an interest in the Slate Creek iron furnace. Although Owings had been an original founder in partnership in 1787, he became sole owner in 1795 of the oven that had been renamed the Bourbon Iron Furnace, which supplied all the iron needs for Kentucky and its neighbors, as well as the cannonballs used at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.4
On Aug. 29, 1790, Van Pradelles married Cassandra Deye Owings (1772-1813), the daughter of John Cockey Owings (1750-1810) and Colgate Deye Colegate (1754-1820) of Baltimore. Cassandra was the first child of 8 siblings, the third being her brother Thomas (1776-1853), and the youngest being Frances Thwaites Deye Owings (Taylor), who eventually would raise many of Cassandra’s children.5
Without much doubt, this treatise will immediately conflict with writings of Dr. John R. Moore of Kentucky, also Cassandra Van Pradelles Kilgore and her granddaughter, Octavia Kilgore LaFour, who state that the newlyweds left for France in 1790 (during the French Revolution), that 9 of their ten children were born in France, and that the family returned stateside to New Orleans in 1806.
According to family history, Benedict Van Pradelles and the 15-year-old Cassandra Owings eloped to The Old Swedes Church in Philadelphia, where they were married on Aug. 29, 1790, and they immediately set sail for France. However, the statement that the newlywed Cassandra became a lady-in-waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette is probably incorrect as well, since King Louis XVI and his queen were under house arrest in the Tuileries in 1790 and up to their escape; recapture at Varennes in June, 1791; and their permanent imprisonment until they were guillotined.6
It would be sheer conjecture to estimate what year the B. Van Pradelles family returned stateside, but letters indicate it was probably about 1795, and the place of arrival was Baltimore, not New Orleans. The writer agrees that the Van Pradelles family at one time had been living in French Flanders, where the oldest daughter, Marie Francoise was born on July 20, 1791.7
A surviving letter from Thomas Deye Owings to his father, John Cockey Owings, dated Lexington, KY., Aug. 14, 1795, reiterates the son’s problems in caring for, buying and selling, his father’s lands in Kentucky, including the Bourbon furnace.8 The first evidence of Benedict Van Pradelles’ presence in Kentucky is his letter to his father-in-law, John Cockey Owings from Spring Grove, Union County, KY., dated June 22, 1798, discussing his pursuit of land sales. There is also in it a reference to a letter written the previous week, addressed to his wife Cassandra, and being carried by a man en route to Philadelphia. The letter does not specify whether Cassandra was in Baltimore, or was visiting in Philadelphia.9
However, there is indelible proof that Cassandra Van Pradelles was living in Lexington, KY., by the middle of 1804, when she petitioned the Kentucky state legislature for relief or enablement to own, buy, sell and contract, independent of her husband, and to be free of liability from his debts and contracts. Her request was granted on Dec. 15, 1804.10 The enablement may not suggest any estrangement from her husband since she gave birth to twin daughters, Mary Penelope and Charlotte, either in Kentucky or while en route to New Orleans in 1805.
Although the 1806 city directory of Lexington lists a house owned by B. Van Pradelles,11 it is obvious that the house was empty, for Van Pradelles left Kentucky on July 26, 1805, and did not arrive in New Orleans until the following Oct. 30th. A quote from his letter to Secretary James Madison of Oct. 31, 1805, reads as follows:
“I accept with gratitude the appointment which it has pleased the President of the United States to give me a commission for the purpose of adjusting the claims of land in the eastern district of the Territory of Orleans... I have been detained by the low state of water in the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, from the 26 July (1805), the day on which I started from the rapids of the Ohio, and yesterday (Oct. 30), the date of my arrival...”12
Van Pradelles made no mention of his family accompanying him, but considering his wife’s pregnancy and/or a new birth, as well as 6 other children under 14 years of age, it seems highly plausible that she made the 3-months journey down the 2 rivers with him. Gov. Claiborne had complained to President Jefferson that the commissioner’s post had been vacated by the death of Micajah Lewis, who had been killed in a duel,13 and the office needed some one quite fluent (that is, read, write and understand) in both English and French; for that reason he had recommended Van Pradelles of Kentucky. (Benedict was also a personal friend of Secretary of Treasury Albert Gallatin, who was also a lieutenant in the company under General Rochambeau, which sailed from Brest, France in 1780.) Following the death of John W. Gurley, Van Pradelles was also appointed as Register of the Board of Land Commissioners on April 8, 1808. Also the period July-Oct., 1805 was a decade before steamboats first appeared on Mississippi River; hence the family was reduced to floating with the slow tides, paddling, or using a sail if the winds were favorable.14
Van Pradelles was to win many honors and other office appointments from Oct. 1805 until his untimely death from yellow fever on Dec. 12, 1808, only six weeks after the birth of his youngest son. On Nov. 26, 1806 Van Pradelles was appointed notary public for Orleans Parish, his commission ending only with the date of his death.15 Also in 1808; Van Pradelles was appointed Justice of the Peace for Orleans Parish. He presided over a host of criminal cases, and kept his records in the French language.16
On Dec. 24th, 1808, which was Cassandra’s 35th birthday, she took her six children to St. Mary’s Church, where they were baptized. Only the record of Marie Francoise, born July 20, 1791, indicated that the 17-year-old girl was born in French Flanders. Since the next child’s birth year was 1795, it seems highly probable that the Van Pradelles family were back in Baltimore during that year.17
The 1811 New Orleans city directory listed at #17 Conti Street: “Van Pradelles, Madame, pension, boardinghouse...”18 In 1822, long after both Benedict and Cassandra Van Pradelles were dead, an inbound slave manifest read as follow: “Perry, m., 6-8, black, O., S., Van Pradelles, Baltimore...”19 The writer can offer no explanation for that. In Feb., 1810, Cassandra’s father, John Cockey Owings, wrote his will, leaving everything to his wife and younger children. He wrote out of his will his oldest son, Thomas Deye Owings, with the sum of $1. And even that was a dollar more than he left to his widowed daughter, Cassandra Deye Van Pradelles, in New Orleans. Obviously her father was displeased with his son’s and son-in-law’s handling of his property in Kentucky and Ohio, and perhaps also because Van Pradelles had accepted the appointment in New Orleans.20
During the New Orleans period, there were some lawsuits involving Cassandra Van Pradelles and her heirs, which should be mentioned. On Aug. 25, 1820, the Estate of Benedict Van Pradelles sued his sister-in-law, Charlotte Owings over the disposition of slaves. The suit is listed as MSA 4239 14 81 in the Maryland State Archives. Cassandra also sued Edwin Lorrain in the Territory of New Orleans Superior Court under Docket 3451. Two other suits in the First Judicial Court, Orleans Parish, 1813-1835, included C. D. Van Pradelles Vs. W. Donaldson and P. Wale, Executors, Docket #616, and C. D. Van Pradelles Vs. G. Dorsey (or D’Orcy), Docket #1322.
Two cases also appeared in the Baltimore courts—one was the suit of several Cockey and Owings family members VS: Frances Thwaites Owings, dated Nov. 12, 1807, over disposition of property, and is recorded in the Maryland Chancery Records Book 80, p. 481 (Maryland State Archives S512-1344). The other suit was also in the Baltimore County Court, C.551, dated Sept. 27, 1824, the petition of Frances T. Taylor, and others to establish land boundaries. (MSA C-249 133)
At first, the writer vowed not to discuss the Cassandra legend concerning her fate at sea; however, it now may be best to discuss its credibility and to pinpoint all the pros and cons of it. The legend has its origin in the large obelisk, mounted in Sherwood Episcopal Cemetery, and which was erected by her sister Frances Taylor, and reads as follows: “Cassandra D. Van Pradelles, Lost at Sea in 1815, Age 40 Years.” Nevertheless, Cassandra's date of birth was Dec. 24, 1772.21
Yet it seems only logical that the date of her death would be between the date of her will on July 13, 1813 and its first presentation in a probate court by her daughter on March 9, 1814.22 At some time after the 1811 New Orleans city directory was published, Cassandra took her children to Maryland and left them in the custody of her sister Frances. Apparently Cassandra needed to return to New Orleans to settle her affairs there, perhaps to sell her boarding house. And according to one account, she was accompanied on the trip by her friend, Sarah Buchanan Turnbull. However, unknown to the legend’s author, Sarah Turnbull died in Maryland in 1811, two years before Cassandra’s death.
Also according to the legend, Cassandra had a vision of her own death at the hands of pirates, and when she told it to friends, they only laughed at her. The Cassandra legend probably originated in Maryland, but the Texas version also noted that she boarded the packet “Corinthian” for her return; also that the packet was captured by Lafitte pirates, and Cassandra was sent to her death by being forced to walk the plank.”23 The sad fact remains that the outgoing and incoming ship passenger lists at New Orleans remain on microfilm as far back as 1810, and an extended search might produce the passenger list of the “Corinthian” to see if Cassandra was actually aboard.
One can readily see the effect upon the legend of Lyle Saxon’s book, “Lafitte the Pirate,” published in 1930. The Maryland source credits Dr. John R. Moore, who married Cassandra’s daughter Mary Penelope, and who probably originated the legend. In 1920, Dr. Moore’s grandson, Dr. V. P. M. Yeaman, presented a letter, which is still in the files of Maryland Historical Society, and which reads in part:
“...Dr. John R. Moore by mere chance encountered the pirate (reputed to have been Dominic You), who had killed his wife’s mother, (and) the pirate unwittingly revealed her fate... Whereupon the pirate told him of taking the jewels from ‘the pretty little thing’ from Maryland before making her ‘walk the plank.’ The identification of the jewels revealed her fate...24
The same article added: “...One can detect the hands of romance in the many tales that have grown up around the Cassandra story...”25 It is true, of course, that Cassandra was lost at sea, and the epitaph on the obelisk cried out for an answer. Books, such as Lyle Saxon’s “Lafitte the Pirate,” and two old newspaper articles, from the Baltimore Sun and Galveston Daily News, retold the Cassandra legend during the 1920s-1930s.26 However, one sad fact remains—that no primary source survives to verify it, for ex-pirates were notoriously close-mouthed, fearing a charge of piracy might still be filed against them. However, there is certainly no harm in believing the Cassandra legend if one is so inclined, and if a descendent prefers to believe that his/her ancestor was murdered—that is, was keelhauled or forced to walk the plank—then so be it.
The earliest years of Albert Gallatin Van Pradelles are indeed sketchy, but apparently he was taken to Maryland at about 5 years old, where he and his siblings were adopted, reared, and educated by their Aunt Frances Taylor. Albert was sent to school in Emmetsburg, where he received a rudimentary education. He was brutally whipped at about age 15, after which he quit school, and sailed aboard an outbound sailing ship in Baltimore harbor. It is uncertain how long he remained at sea, but possibly his seaman career lasted until about 1832. Later he met William Moore of Kentucky, who later married 2 of Albert Van Pradelles’ sisters. Perhaps he traveled the same Ohio-Mississippi route that his father had taken, for he operated a drug store in Little Rock for a few years before he and Moore arrived in Texas.27
Nothing is known of William Moore’s early life, except that he was from Kentucky; nor how they met or what induced them to Texas. Perhaps when A. G. Van Pradelles quit the sea, he may have visited Kentucky, where some of his Owings relatives still lived (Owingsville, Owensboro) near Lexington, and he could have met Moore at that time. By 1830 steamboat traffic on the Ohio and Mississippi watershed had become quite common; and perhaps they made the journey south together, seeking better economic opportunity, and Van Pradelles stopped to enter the drug store business. By 1835, ads for volunteer soldiers to fight in the Texas Revolution appeared from New Orleans to St. Louis, for which call William Moore responded, and he fought at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.28
Although the Van Pradelles family history notes that Albert arrived in Texas about 1836, the first verifiable knowledge of his presence appeared in a Moore to Williams deed of 1838. By that time William Moore had married Albert’s sister Charcilla Cassandra, and they resided at Moore’s Bluff until Cassandra died on Aug. 20, 1838, midway between Liberty and Wallisville. Moore then married his sister-in-law, Colegate Van Pradelles, and she died there on Jan. 3, 1846.29
In Feb. 1839, Van Pradelles as deputy sheriff signed a court order and “Sheriff’s Sale” for the Robert Wiseman league (4,428 acres) in Liberty County, which sale went jointly to William Moore and Charles Wilcox.30 According to family history, A. G. Van Pradelles was sheriff of Liberty County about 1840, and he resigned from office when faced with hanging a prisoner.31 According to the Van Pradelles genealogical chart, his son Albert Moore Van Pradelles was born at Anahuac in 1847, and daughter Emily Charlotte was born at Moore’s Bluff in 1849. The next 2 daughters were born at Dayton in 1852 and 1854.32
On May 19, 1842, A. G. Van Pradelles enlisted as a private in Capt. Tim Hoyt’s Co., of Texas Militia in Beat 8, Liberty County. On Feb. 5, 1844, he was elected as Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Brigade of Texas Militia in Anahuac.33
In 1846 A. G. Van Pradelles married Mary Louise Thomas, who was born on July 29, 1827 at San Augustine, Texas, the daughter of Gary S. Thomas and Emily M. Davis. After 19 years of marriage and child birth, she died on Jan. 20, 1865, less than a month after giving birth to an infant son, and after learning of the death of her 18-year-old son of pneumonia at Bastrop a day or two later. She and her parents are buried in Wallisville Cemetery.34
Although living in West Liberty or Day’s Town (now Dayton), which was then in the Liberty city limits, the Liberty, Texas Gazette reported on June 4, 1855 that Van Pradelles was a member of the Liberty city council from 1852 until 1856.35 During that time he also served as acting mayor or mayor pro tem. In 1850 to 1855, he was the only merchant in West Liberty, as one writer later wrote: “...I still remember how Capt. A. G. Van Pradelles was running the only store in town. He was a big-hearted, jovial old gent. He was a man who never refused credit to anyone except on one occasion...”36
In 1856 or early 1857, Van Pradelles moved his store to Wallisville, where he hoped to build up a large cotton commission trade by purchasing the loads of cotton floating down Trinity River in keelboats, which, having no rudder or motive power, could not navigate in Galveston Bay. He was appointed postmaster of Wallisville in Dec. 1857. Actually he served as postmaster twice, once before the Civil War, and again for several years prior to his death in 1884. In between, his son-in-law, T. A. Kilgore was postmaster during the 1870s, and his daughter Mary was postmaster from May, 1884 until her marriage in 1886.37
In 1857, Sour Lake, Texas became a popular “watering place” or spa for the wealthy classes of Galveston and Houston. And steamboat passage to Wallisville or Liberty, from whence stage coaches traveled to Sour Lake, were the best routes to reach the spa. Van Pradelles advertised in 1857 that such coaches left Wallisville for Sour Lake. “The distance is about the same as from Liberty, and Sour Lake is becoming more popular every day...”38
That Van Pradelles was making a major bid to forward the Trinity River cotton crop to market is evident from the following advertisement, as follows:
“...Storage at Moore’s Bluff—the undersigned has a large warehouse at Moore’s Bluff on the west side of Trinity River, wharf is prepared to receive and forward all cotton for the merchants... Freight is the same as to Lynchburg (Harris Co.) and the route to Cold Spring (San Jacinto Co.) is better and shorter. Planters and merchants of Cold Spring and (Old) Waverly are solicited to give this route a trial—A. G. Van Pradelles, Aug 21, 1860.”39
Probably few Texas economic historians realize the cotton trade potential of the Trinity River before the Civil War. In 1859 Walker County, with its river port at Cincinnati, produced 11,970 bales. Other large producers of that year included Polk County, 9,313 bales; Anderson County, 8,257 bales; Houston County, 7,011 bales; Freestone County, 6,913 bales; and other counties for a river potential of 60,000 bales bound for Galveston.40 There were also 12 steamboats in 1859, hauling the fluffy, white produce to market, namely, the J. F. Carr, Pathfinder, A. S. Ruthven, Alice M., Belle Sulphur, Mary Hill, Lucy Gwin, Lone Star, Magnolia, J. H. Bell, Betty Powell, and Dr. W. R. Smith.41
The Smith, being the mail contractor for Liberty, Wallisville, and Anahuac, stayed near the river’s mouth, its principal duty being to offload cotton from those steamers too heavily-loaded to cross the Trinity River bar.42 Despite the steamboats, there was still a large volume of cotton arriving at Wallisville aboard keelboats. In March, 1860, while the Lucy Gwin was loading cotton at Magnolia, 4 keelboats, each carrying 300 bales, floated past the Gwin while en route downstream to Wallisville.43 In 1893, Charles N. Eley, postmaster and former agent for 36 steamboats in the Trinity trade, reported that A. G. Van Pradelles was one of the ten largest cotton commission merchants on Trinity River.44 In March, 1861, Van Pradelles was a passenger aboard the packet A. S. Ruthven, while the steamer was carrying some of Van Pradelles’ cotton to market in Galveston, and where the storekeeper planned to buy the merchandise needed to restock his shelves.45
All of his life, Van Pradelles was entrusted with monetary appointments. On June 25, 1866, he was appointed Chambers County treasurer, which lasted until Sept. 3, 1869. On April 22, 1872 he was appointed to that office again, and he held it until his death on May 12, 1884. His descendents still have the original appointment, signed by Gov. Edwin J. Davis.46
The Van Pradelles family was enumerated in the 1860 Chambers County census at residence 463. By then age 51, Van Pradelles was recorded as a merchant, owning $10,000 worth of real estate and $7,000 worth of personal property. Living within his household were his wife Mary; son Albert M.; and four daughters, Emily, Cassandra, Charcilla, and Fanny; also his brother-in-law Ben C. Thomas, who was a store clerk, and later was killed in the Confederate Army.47
Van Pradelles also owned 5 slaves in 1860, which included 1 male and 1 female, each age 30; and three sons, ages 11, 9, and 7. Most likely the male slave was used in the cotton warehouse, and the female was utilized to perform household chores.48
According to Bobby Santiesteban, archivist at Texas Land Office, A. G. Van Pradelles only acquired 3 tracts of land that are recorded at the state land office, as follows: a quarter-league (1,127 acres) in the Bartoloa Escabeda league in Polk County, inherited from his wife Mary; a bounty grant (320 acres) issued to William Moore, but patented by A. D. Van Pradelles; and another bounty grant to Beasley Pruitt, also patented by Van Pradelles. Despite his 1842-1844 Texas militia service, Van Pradelles apparently did not qualify for a land grant for that service.49
The Civil War years could certainly be considered heartbreak for the Van Pradelles family. On June 8, 1861, he enlisted in Capt. Kindallas “King” Bryan’s “Liberty County Invincibles,” a militia company soon to be inducted into the Confederate Army, and Van Pradelles was elected first lieutenant. However, he was relieved of duties when the company was re-designated Co. F, 5th Texas Infantry, Hood’s Texas Brigade and sent to Virginia. The company fought in 29 battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Chickamauga before it surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. Bryan rose to Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment.50
It is uncertain how much the war affected the Trinity cotton trade. Nearly all the steamboats were withdrawn, but cotton still arrived aboard keelboats and wagons. There were 2 more births during the war years, Mary, born in 1861; and Benedict, born in 1864 and died at age 9 months. The oldest son, Albert Moore Van Pradelles, died of pneumonia at Bastrop Military Institute on Dec. 26, 1864, only 5 days after Benedict was born. And their mother, Mary Van Pradelles, died on Jan 20, 1865, less than a month later. Also their Uncle Ben Thomas, their former store clerk, was killed in the Confederate Army.51
The Civil War defeat also dealt harshly with the Van Pradelles family finances as well. In the 1870 census, their real estate value had dropped from $10,000 to $5,000. Their personal property value had dropped from $7,000 to $1,000, mostly from the emancipation of their slaves. Four daughters, namely, Cassandra, age 18; Charcilla, age 15; Fannie, age 13; and Mary, age 9 were still living at home.52
The years 1870-1873 saw quite a rebirth of the Trinity cotton trade, with 13 to 17 steamboats engaged in hauling up to 60,000 bales downstream each year. And as a consequence, Van Pradelles is believed to have rebuilt his finances considerably. However, the year 1873 was the last year of the steamboat trade, the rails of 3 systems crossing the river, and thereafter the only cotton Van Pradelles shipped was what accumulated south of Liberty. However, it was a natural disaster that finished off the old Wallisville merchant.53
On the morning of Sept. 16, 1875, a giant hurricane plowed into the Central Texas coast, totally destroying the town of Indianola, but the devastation at Wallisville, 200 miles to the northeast, was equally devastating, particularly when a tidal wave out of Trinity Bay flooded the town. And A. G. Van Pradelles’ losses were equally devastating as well, as follows:
“...Mr. Van Pradelles lost his storehouse, goods, and all his outbuildings. His residence, though much damaged, was left. He also had 100 cords of cordwood for his own and steamboat use, piled on the river bank, which was also carried off...”54
Van Pradelles rebuilt his store, which was also the post office, but the business was only a shadow of its former size. With the gray hairs of old age approaching, he forgot about the cotton trade, except for those of his longtime local customers. And perhaps hindered otherwise by advancing age, he died at age 76 on May 16, 1884. His grave is marked beside that of his wife and kinsmen in Wallisville Cemetery. A resulting obituary read as follows: “Died, Van Pradelles—at Wallisville, Texas May 16 at 8:30 PM, A. G. Van Pradelles, in his 76th year of his life. Baltimore, MD and Owensboro, KY newspapers, please copy...”55
All 5 of the Van Pradelles daughters married and raised families. Emily Charlotte, born May 25, 1849, married Edward A. Dunman on Sept. 7, 1875, and died on Dec. 31, 1929. Her sister Emily died the same day, and they conducted a double funeral for them the next day at Wallisville. Cassandra Colegate, born on Feb. 23, 1852, married Theodore A. Kilgore on Dec. 17, 1873 and died on Mar. 18, 1945. At the time of their marriage, her husband was postmaster at Wallisville.
Charcilla Josephine, born Sept. 25, 1854, married Landon Chambers, and she died July 5, 1937. Frances Owings Van Pradelles, born Mar. 17, 1857, married Charles Kulenthal, and died on Dec. 31, 1929, the same day as her sister Emily. And Mary T. Van Pradelles, born on July 27, 1861, gave up her postmaster job to marry W. F. Mayes on Feb. 24, 1886, and she died on Aug. 21, 1915.56
Thus, these are the fascinating annals of Albert Gallatin Van Pradelles, as well as his parents, Benedict Francis and Cassandra Owings Van Pradelles, whose footsteps tread from the Republic of Texas to New Orleans, the territory and state of Kentucky to Philadelphia; and Lord Baltimore’s colony of Maryland to the France of the French Revolution; as well as Cassandra’s mysterious death at sea.
Although Wallisville, Texas has produced a host of well-known politicians, the writer discovered while writing the history of the Trinity River steamboat trade that A. G. Van Pradelles was a giant figure in the river’s cotton trade. He also raised a family that was a credit to Chambers County history. Van Pradelles arrived in Liberty County during the harsh days of the Texas republic, and he soon rose to lieutenant colonel in the Texas militia. Van Pradelles was a credit to his community, county, republic, state, and following the Civil War, to the United States, a nation that he had once opposed. From all available records, he was a man of sterling character and integrity, and a biography of his life is long overdue.
1 LDS Library, Salt Lake City, film 1255295, film #T9-1295, provided by Mrs. Octavia LaFour.
3 “Les Combattants Francais de la Guerre Americain,” Librairies-Imprimeries Reunies, Motteroz, 1903; also “Dictionaire des Officiers de l’Armee Royale aux Etats-Unis pendant la Guerre d’Inependance, 1776-1783” (Chateau de Vincinnes, 1982), information furnished by Mrs. Joanna C. Scott.
4 F. R. Foche, “Thomas Deye Owings-Pioneer of the West,” Maryland Historical Magazine, XXX (1935), 39-41.
5 Terry Mason’s Cockey-Owings family history, taken from Robert Barnes, “The Green Spring Valley: Its History and Heritage,” (Baltimore: 1978); and Greg Owings, “Owings and Allied Families;” also A. D. and E. S. Owings, “Owings and Allied Families,” (New Orleans: 1976). Cassandra’s first antecedents of the Cockey and Owings’ families reached Lord Baltimore’s colony about 1675.
6 The Van Pradelles Family history, 1939; Georges Goyau, “Biography of Marie Antoinette,” Catholic Encyclopedia Online,” Vol IX, copyrighted 2003.
7 Baptism of Marie Francoise Van Pradelles, Archdiocese of New Orleans Sacramental Records, Vol. 9, pp. 362-363, St. Mary’s Church.
8 Letter, Thomas Owings to John Cockey Owings, dated Aug. 17, 1795 in Lexington, KY., in American Historical Manuscripts, Box 3, Folder 1, Kent State University library.
9 Letter, Benedict Van Pradelles to John Cockey Owings, June 22, 1798, in American Historical Manuscripts, Box 3, Folder 3, at Kent State University library.
10 Littell’s Laws of Kentucky, Vol. 3, p. 191, approval dated Dec. 14, 1804.
11 Lexington, KY. 1806 city directory, published in “Charless’ Almanack.”
12 Letter, B. Van Pradelles to Secretary James Madison, Territorial Papers of the United States, Orleans Territory, 1803-1812, Vol. IX, p. 519.
13 Ibid, Claiborne to Jefferson, Feb. 17, 1805, pp. 393-394.
14 Letters, Van Pradelles to Secretary Albert Gallatin, Apr. 18, 22, 1805; June 11, 1808, pp. 519, 791-792.
15 Territorial Papers of the United States, Orleans Parish, 1990, Vol. IX, p. 701; also New Orleans Notarial Archives.
16 Inventory of Criminal Cases, City and Parish Courts, 1805-1812, Docs. #5, Case Numbers 134-147, City Archives, New Orleans Public Library.
17 Same as FN7, Archdiocese of New Orleans, Sacramental Records, Vol. 9, pp. 362-363.
18 The 1811 New Orleans City Directory, New Orleans Public Library.
19 Inward Slave Manifest for the Port of New Orleans, Mar. 31, 1822, Roll 3, Jan.-Mar., 1822.
20 Last Will of John Cockey Owings, MSA Case 0435, Baltimore County Register of Wills, Vol. 8, pp. 471-473, Maryland State Archives; also recorded Will Book D, p. 215, Kentucky Wills.
21 M. Anderson and M. Smith,” The Limestone Valley,” (Bicentennial of Timonium Valley), pp. 182-183.
22 “The Limestone Valley,” p. 182.
23 Mrs. Cassandra Kilgore, “The Van Pradelles Family,” 1939, p. 2.
24 “The Limestone Valley,” p. 184.
25 Ibid, p. 184.
26 “Empty Grave’s Stone Recalls Maryland’s Romantic Past,” Baltimore Sun, Aug. 2, 1930; Virginia Gwin, “Grandmother of Galveston Woman Believed Murdered,” Galveston Daily News, undated clipping, Ca. 1930.
27 Kilgore, “The Van Pradelles Family,” p. 2.
28 S. H. Dixon and L. W. Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: 1932), p. 153.
29 Genealogical history of the Benedict and Cassandra Van Pradelles family.
30 Houston Telegraph and Texas Register, March 29, 1839.
31 C. Kilgore, “The Van Pradelles Family History,” 1939, p. 3.
32 A. G. Van Pradelles genealogy chart.
33 Private in Capt. Tim Hoyt’s Co., Beat 8, Liberty County, A6:T1, p. 241, 1842; Lt. Col. , 2nd Regt., 2nd Brigade, Texas Militia, A6: T1, pp. 245-246, Index to Texas Military Records, 1835-1845.
34 A biographical sketch of Mary Thomas Van Pradelles, written by her daughter, Mrs. Charcilla Chambers.
35 Email, Kevin Ladd, Wallisville Heritage Park, to W. T. Block, May 29, 2004; also “Acting Mayor,” Liberty, TX Gazette, June 4, 1855.
36 Letter from “Native Texan,” Liberty Vindicator, June, 22, 1888.
37 Liberty Gazette, July 13, 1847; Galv. Weekly News, Dec. 29, 1857.
38 Galveston Weekly News, June 9, 1857.
39 Ibid, Mar. 9, 1861.
40 W. T. Block, Cotton Bales, Keelboats, and Sternwheelers: A History of The Trinity River Cotton Trade (Woodville, TX: 1995), p. 209.
41 Ibid p. 208.
42 Ibid, p. 199.
43 Galveston Weekly News, Mar. 3, 1860.
44 Galveston Daily News, April 26, 1893: Cotton Bales, Keelboat and Sternwheelers, p. 166
45 Galveston Weekly News, Mar. 7, 1861.
46 B. I. and J. H. Harry, A History of Chambers County (Dallas: 1981), p. 197; copy, Gov. E. J. Davis to A. J. Van Pradelles, Appointment as County Treasurer, 1872.
47 Eighth Census of the United States, Sch. I, Population, 1860, Chambers County, Texas, res. 463; also Affidavit, Van Pradelles Heirs, Deed Records, Chambers County, TX, Vol. 74, p. 397.
48 Ibid, Sch. II, Slaves, Chambers County, Texas.
49 Email, B. Santiesteban, Texas Land Office, to W. T. Block, May 20, 2004.
50 Letter and muster roll, Bryan to Col. Wm. Byrd, the “Liberty Invincibles.”
51 Van Pradelles family history and genealogy; Vol. 76, p. 396, Deed Records, Chamber County, Texas.
52 Ninth Census of the United States, 1870, Sch. I, Population, Chambers Co., TX, res. 62
53 Cotton Bales, Keelboats and Sternwheelers, pp. 211-227.
54 Galveston Weekly News, Sept. 27, 1875.
55 From undated newspaper copy, probably Liberty, in Welder-Bennett Collection, Liberty, Box 2, File 44.
56 Genealogical Sheet of A. G. Van Pradelles and May Louise Thomas Van Pradelles.