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    William B. Travis writes and signs a Texas legal document

    William B. Travis Autograph Legal Document Signed "Travis." Two pages (recto and verso), 8" x 6.25", San Felipe de Austin, August 26, 1834. Less than two years before his death at the Alamo, attorney William Travis writes much of the text of this legal petition, signing at the end, "Serving copy of pet. decree . . . [illegible] $1.25. Travis." The document is also signed by several other prominent San Felipe residents, including Robert Williamson, C. B. Stewart, Dr. Robert Peebles, Nathaniel Townsend, and G. A. Powell.

    On the recto, Travis has written the text of the "Petition for discharge as surety" for George Huff v. I. R. Lewis. Travis' penmanship is difficult to read, though the names of prominent Texans are legible, such as Robert Williamson, a brilliant and witty attorney known as "Three Legged Willie." Williamson published San Felipe's only newspaper and was also a personal friend to Travis. Another personal friend to Travis named in the document is Robert Peebles, a land speculator and physician who was "acting judge" in this case. Thomas Barnett was a public official who served various roles in the burgeoning town of San Felipe, is also mentioned. He was also one of Stephen Austin's original Old Three Hundred, who, during the revolution, served as a delegate to the Convention of 1836 where he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Another member of the Old Three Hundred referred to is George Huff, a wealthy blacksmith and businessman who sold Travis various supplies for his law office from his merchandise business in San Felipe.

    Ira R. Lewis, known as Major Lewis, is also named in the document. Lewis might have been responsible for Travis' first meeting with Rebecca Cummings. Only twenty-four years old in 1834, Travis had married Rosanna Cato four years earlier in Alabama. The couple had two children, but Travis doubted her faithfulness and consequently abandoned her and the children and moved to Texas. He settled in San Felipe and opened his law office in 1832. He soon became prosperous representing such clients as William Wharton and Jim Bowie and was soon elected to the ayuntamiento, the governing body of San Felipe. At a Christmas party given by Major Lewis in December 1833, Travis, still married, met Rebecca and fell in love. The two were courting when Travis signed this document. One month later, Rosanna Travis finally began divorce proceedings. In the meantime, Texas moved with haste toward rebellion. In early March 1836, Travis, the commander of the Alamo, lost his life with nearly 200 other Texans.

    On the verso is a summons issued for Thomas Barnett to "Give notice of the foregoing petition & decree to Ira R. Lewis, and summon him to appear before the Judge of the 1st Instance at his office in the town of San Felipe, to answer the summons in twelve days. Herein fail not & make due return of this writ. Given in San Felipe de Austin, on the 18th day of July 1834. [Signed] Robt. Peebles."

    William Travis' signature is rare in any form, whether on documents, letters, or clipped. The signature on this document is large and bold. Both sides of the document are unevenly toned, possibly due to mild dampstaining. Some foxing. The ink has blossomed in some words, while it has faded in others.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2011
    12th Saturday
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