Scope and Contents
Consists of twelve boxes as well as some oversize material. A collection of documents, letters, Civil War materials, newspapers, and other miscellaneous material, connected with Brigadier General William Harrison Hamman (1830-1890), who lived in Texas during the Secession, Civil War, Reconstruction, and Bourbon period.
The collection includes contemporary accounts of early Texas historical events and political opinions, as well as Hamman's legal and business papers (regarding oil land, gas, and minerals, etc.). Also included are the papers of Mrs. Ella Hamman; John Hamman (1879-1966), founder of the Hamman Exploration Company, which later became Hamman Oil and Refining Company, and a pioneer in the development of mineral resources in Texas, as well as a lawyer specializing in land and corporation law; and other Hamman family members.
Materials in the collection are foldered in paper and some oversize material has been encapsulated.
William Harrison Hamman, soldier, farmer, lawyer, and entrepreneur, was born at Woodstock, VA on January 17, 1830, the son of George and Catherine Schmucker Hamman. His father, a carpenter, died when William was ten years old, and William worked various numerous jobs to help support his family. He attended the University of Virginia in 1850 and 1851, studying mathematics, German and chemistry. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Virginia militia on April 13, 1850, and promoted to captain on November 8, 1856. In January 1858 he moved to Owensville in Robertson County, TX, and on September 21 was licensed to practice law there.
Through the 1850s he had been an ardent Unionist and strongly opposed Virginia's secession. On December 15, 1860, he was a leader in Robertson County calling for the immediate secession of Texas. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Hamman enlisted on July 15, 1861, as a private in the "Robertson Five Shooters", which soon became Company C, Fourth Texas Infantry of the famed Hood's Texas Brigade. Hamman was first elected to corporal and then, on October 16, 1861, to regimental color sergeant. He was appointed acting regimental commissary sergeant in July 1862 and served as regimental commissary officer from August 6, 1862, until the Confederate government in August 1863 abolished the position. That month he applied for a mission to return to Texas, and was dispatched as a messenger to the Trans-Mississippi Department. He remained in Texas and was appointed on December 25, 1863, aide-de-camp to the commander of the First Brigade, Second Division, Texas State Troops. On March 12, 1864, he was promoted to captain of the Texas State Troops and appointed adjutant general of the Fifth Brigade District. He rose to the rank of brigadier general on December 26, 1864.
Although his means were reduced by the war, in 1866 Hamman became the first oil prospector in Texas; he drilled his first oil well at Saratoga in Hardin County. Ironically, he owned options and leases at the Sour Lake and Spindletop oilfields, but did not drill on them. In August 1870 Hamman helped to incorporate three business enterprises - the Calvert Bridge Company, to build
a safe and substantial bridge over the Brazos River at Calvert; the Pacific and Great Eastern Railway Company of Texas, to build a rail link between the Red River and the Rio Grande; and the Texas Timber and Prairie Railroad Company, to build a railroad between Beaumont and Bremond. In May of that year he also helped charter the Calvert and Belton Railroad. In 1871 Hamman moved to Calvert when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad reached town. There he established a successful legal practice. On July 26, 1871, he married Ella Virginia Laudermilk. The couple had five children.
In 1878 Hamman, theretofore a Democrat, became interested in monetary reform and ran as the Greenback party's candidate for governor, finishing second; he ran again in 1880 and finished third. In 1889 he became interested in the development of the coal and iron deposits at New Birmingham in Rusk County and helped organize the Cherokee Coal and Iron Company. Hamman died at New Birmingham on July 14, 1890, and was buried in the Owensville Cemetery, Calvert, Texas.
Excerpted from The New Handbook of Texas, 1996