Thomas Jefferson Word Collection, 1834-1911 | East Texas Research Center
By Mark Musquiz
Primary Creator: Word, Thomas Jefferson
Extent: 3.0 Linear Feet
This collection consists of three series arranged across two boxes and one oversized bundle.
Series 1: Mississippi (Box 1)
Subseries 1: Personal Materials 1837-1872 – Correspondence, receipts, and personal estate documents in separate folders and in chronological order.
Subseries 2: Professional Legal Papers 1840-1871 – Correspondents and legal cases in separate folders and in chronological order.
Subseries 3: Miscellaneous 1836-1854 – Unsorted or undated correspondences and legal documents in separate folders and in chronological order.
Series 2: Texas (Box 1)
Subseries 1: Personal Materials 1855-1910 – Correspondence, receipts, and personal estate documents in separate folders and in chronological order.
Subseries 2: Professional Legal Papers 1835-1909 - Correspondents and legal cases in separate folders and in chronological order.
Series 3: Abstractor Conveyances from Records, Anderson County, Texas (Box 2)
Land abstracts, conveyance records from Anderson County, Texas, and T. J. Word account ledgers in separate folders and in chronological order.
Bundle 1: Oversized items
An oversized meeting summary, land receipt, letter, certificate of redemption, and map each encapsulated in mylar and in chronological order.
The Thomas Jefferson Word Collection includes letters, legal documents, and receipts that give a rough outline of his life in Mississippi, details of Word's move to Texas, and his law practice. These materials often discuss land deals, purchases, promissory notes, details in legal cases, and daily life. Other information in the collection includes post mortem papers, which were handled mostly by his son Horace, and several legal cases that do not directly involve Word.
Items researchers might find interesting:
~ Letters from Texas Supreme Court Justice George F. Moore (1857-1874) to Word that discuss the election of Texas politicians during the Civil War.
~ Land documents in this collection might give researchers an idea of how difficult it was for some early Texas settlers to purchase land and keep their boundaries well defined.
~ Documents in the collection also tie T. J. Word to important regional institutions, like the Mississippi Union Bank, and people, like Robert & David Graham Mills (brothers who owned over 200,000 acres of land in Texas and were worth an estimated $3 to $5 million) and Nathan Brasswell Yelverton (a reputable doctor in Anderson County).
Born February 6, 1805 in Mt. Airy, Surrey County, North Carolina to Thomas Adams and Justiana Dickerson Word, Thomas Jefferson Word went on to become an accomplished lawyer, legislator and soldier in North Carolina, Mississippi and Texas.
Not much is known about Word's childhood and early adulthood in North Carolina. He did achieve however, the rank of colonel in the state militia and served the state in its House of Commons (1832-1833) before leaving for Mississippi sometime between 1834 and 1835.
Word settled in the town of Pontotoc. Admitted to the Mississippi bar November 11, 1836, Word became a respected and well-known area lawyer and politician. He served as Pontotoc County district attorney and in the state legislature. Word was elected as a Whig to the U. S. House of Representatives for one term (May 30, 1838 - March 3, 1839) after a contested election. Subsequently, he was Mississippi's elector in the Electoral College for the 1840 Presidential Election.
That same year Word married Mary Elizabeth Jackson (July 14, 1840). They had five children--Justiana "Jettie", John Jackson, Mary E. [died as an infant], Thomas Jefferson "Jeff", and Sarah Mary Elizabeth. In the 1840s, Word moved the family to bustling Holly Springs in Marshall County, Mississippi. In 1849, he became an elected delegate to the 1850 Southern States Convention in Nashville. Word's wife Mary passed March 13, 1852, but he remarried to Mary Ann Sternes (b.1822) a year later on July 12, 1853. They had one son, Horace*, in 1853 before moving to Texas in 1855.
Word and his family settled in Palestine, Anderson County and he opened a law practice. Word and his second wife had several more children (Anna and James S.). On the eve of the Civil War, Word was Anderson County's delegate to Texas's 1861 Secession Convention. Mary Ann Stearnes died in 1869, but Word remarried a third time to Mary Lucretia Boothe Jackson, the widow of Frederick S. Jackson, on May 10, 1871. They had one child, Eoline. Word's final political office was that of state senator for Anderson County from 1873-1875. After this service, Word retired to his law practice. He remained very active through the 1880s, writing author Joseph D. Shields, "I am in fine health and still actively engaged in my profession, and although so advanced in age, I can do as much work in my profession as most of the young men."
Word was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens. Reminiscing about the election for Pontotoc County, MS district attorney in the 1830s, opponent Rueben Davis wrote this about Word: "He was a remarkably fine-looking man, and his manner was polished and agreeable....[H]e had a fine, humorous way of telling anecdotes, and could play well upon the violin. He was a good lawyer and a most agreeable stump-speaker. If I also add that he was a courteous and honorable gentleman, I do him no more than justice." Later, Davis wrote, "no man has ever questioned his learning and ability as a lawyer, or his honor, courage, and fidelity to his friends."
Further testament to Word's character and community contributions are evident in the response of Palestine when he passed May 25, 1890. Schools in town were adjourned the day of his funeral and the entire county bar attended the ceremony.
- Word is the great-great-great-grandfather of the donor, Julie Harrison. He was the maternal uncle of William Faulkner.
- *Horace Word later married Catherine "Kate" Rosine Sterne, the grand-daughter of Adolphus Sterne.
- There is a vertical file for Thomas Jefferson Word at the Mississippi State Archives.
“Col Thomas Jefferson “T. J.” Word.” Find A Grave Memorial No. 20060912. Online at www.findagrave.com (Accessed 19 April 2012).
Davis, Reuben. Recollections of Mississippi and Mississippians (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1889) pp.65-72, 94. Online at books.google.com (Accessed 19 April 2012).
Fant, H. B. “Word, Thomas Jefferson.” In Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 6. Edited by William S. Powell (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), p.269.
Lowery, Robert, and William H. McCardle. A History of Mississippi: From the Discovery of the Great River by Hernando DeSoto, Including the Earliest Settlement Made by the French Under Iberville, to the Death of Jefferson Davis (Jackson, MS: R.H. Henry & Company, 1891), p.628. Online at books.google.com (Accessed 19 April 2012).
Martin, Shirley. “Robert F. Stephens a.k.a. David Brown.” Stirpes 38, no.2 (June 1998), p.14.
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution of North Carolina. John Hoyle Chapter, Hickory. Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584-1851 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Company, 1851), pp.410-411. Online at books.google.com (Accessed 19 April 2012).
Shields, Joseph D. Life and Times of Seargent Smith Prentiss (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1884), pp.434-435. Online at books.google.com (Accessed 19 April 2012).
Williamson, Joel. William Faulkner and Southern History (London: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp.38-39.
Browse by Box:
- Bundle 1
- Series 4: Oversized Documents
- Item 1: Meeting summary; Word chosen to help present methods of internal improvement for the state in Raleigh, South Carolina, 11/22/1833
- Item 2: John Word Hooper’s proof of payment for land, 1840s
- Item 3: Rand McNally Map of Texas (written on map, “Menard Territory approved Jan. 22, 1841”), 1893
- Item 4: David Snively letter discussing power of attorney and the Eleven League Land, 7/1/1859
- Item 5: Horace Word sells land to pay taxes (certificate of redemption), 4/23/1890
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