Ross Family Papers, 1859-1898, 1927-1931

Shapley Prince Ross was born on 18 January 1811, in Jefferson County, Kentucky, the son of Shapleigh and Mary (Prince) Ross. He married Catherine H. Fulkerson in 1830, and in 1839 they moved to Texas, settling near Nashville in Milam County. He was a member of Jack Hays's ranger company in 1842 and went to Mexico with the Snively Expedition in 1843. He moved to Austin in 1845 and raised a company of fifty men for volunteer service on the frontier in 1846.

In March 1849 he moved to Waco where he bought eighty acres of land and was given four lots and the right to operate a ferry across the Brazos River. With the help of other settlers he erected a log cabin, the first house built in Waco, on a site at First and Bridge Streets. He established the first water system in Waco and was a member of the six-man commission which selected Waco as the county seat of McLennan County in 1850. In 1850 he went on the first cattle drive made from Waco to Independence, Missouri. From 1855 to 1858 he served as an Indian agent to the Anadarko, Caddo, Kichai, Tawakoni, and Tonkawa Indians on the Brazos Indian Reservation, and later assisted in their removal to a reservation in Oklahoma. He died in Waco on 17 September 1889.

Lawrence Sullivan Ross, son of Shapley Prince and Catherine Ross, was born at Bentonsport, Iowa, on 27 September 1838. Ross attended Baylor University in Independence in 1856 and graduated from Wesleyan University at Florence, Alabama in 1859. He spent his vacations in service against the Comanches and in 1859 was appointed captain of a company of rangers by Sam Houston. At the battle of Pease River in December 1860 he defeated the Comanches under Peta Nocona and recaptured Cynthia Ann Parker. He resigned from the ranger service in February 1861.

On 28 May 1861 he married Elizabeth Tinsley at Waco. During the summer of 1861 he entered the Confederate service as a private and rose to the rank of brigadier general by 21 December 1863. He served during the entire four years of the Civil War and participated in 135 engagements.

After the war, he returned to Waco where he farmed in the Brazos Valley. In 1873 he was elected sheriff of McLennan County and in 1875 was a member of the Constitutional Convention. He served in the Texas Senate from 1881 to 1885. In 1887 he became the first governor to occupy the new capitol building. Following his retirement from office in 1891, Ross became president of Texas A & M College and held this position until his death on 3 January 1898. [Adapted from The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas (1972)]

The Ross Family Papers were produced by members of the second and third generations of the family in Texas and primarily concern the activities of Shapley Prince Ross and his son, Lawrence Sullivan Ross. The collection consists for the most part of correspondence and manuscripts, but also includes some military and financial records, photographs, and clippings.

Much of the early correspondence was generated during the Civil War when Sul Ross's military commitments to the Confederate States of America separated him from his family. Writing to his wife, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Tinsley Ross, and to his father-in-law, Dr. David Tinsley, of Waco, Ross relates the progress of the Waco company from its first camps and mustering in to its victories and losses on the battlefield. He describes camp life and company elections and recounts in detail the military engagements in which he has participated or of which he has heard from other soldiers. The letters reflect the initial enthusiasm of the recruits who truly believed the war would be short-lived, and their eventual disillusionment when they were absent from home for several years. Later letters from Ross cover his service as a representative at the 1875 Constitutional Convention, in the Texas Senate, and his presidency of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas [Texas A & M University]. There is also a series of letters in the early 1880s from Ross and other former members of the Sixth Texas Cavalry to Victor M. Rose of Victoria, who wrote the history of the unit.

Literary productions in the collection include sketches on John Henry Brown, the Taylor fight in Bell County, and Shapley P. Ross. There are also three typescripts by Elizabeth Ross Clarke, daughter of Sul Ross on the life and adventures of her grandfather and father. Mrs. Clarke's attempts to have the manuscript published are indicated in the later correspondence in the collection which also contains her notes and preliminary drafts.


1859-July 1862
August 1862-1865
1870-March 1881
April 1881-1898
1927-1931, n.d.
Invitations and Calling Cards

Literary Productions
"Captain Shapley P. Ross"
"Life and Adventures of Captain Shapley P. Ross...Also a Biographical Sketch of Lawrence Sullivan Ross"
Biographical Sketches of S.P. Ross and L.S. Ross
"John Henry Brown;" "The Taylor Fight in Bell County 1835"
Notes and Preliminary Drafts
Notes and Preliminary Drafts
Military Records*
Financial Records
School Materials of Elizabeth Clarke
Genealogical and Scrapbook Materials
*See Also Oversize Listings

Oversize Listings

Military Couples

Back to Research Aids

The Texas Collection