1846: Silas Dinsmore to John Bell Dinsmore

This letter was written by Silas Dinsmore (1796–1846), the son of John Dinsmore (1759-1814) and Susannah Gilmore Bell (1759-1807). Dinsmore “moved to Texas from Mobile, Alabama. In 1810–11 he was a government agent for the Choctaw Indian Reservation in Alabama and Tennessee. He represented Mina Municipality at the Convention of 1832 and served on the 1833 Brazoria Committee of Safety, designed to protect citizens from Indians. Dinsmore was appointed by President Sam Houston as first chief justice of Matagorda County in December 1836, reappointed by President Mirabeau B. Lamar on January 23, 1839, and elected to the same office by the Fourth Congress in January 1840. He was also involved in establishing the Texas Navy. He later moved to Austin, where he was involved in the real estate business and witnessed the survey of the Montopolis area. Dinsmore was married to Amanda Fowler Coan (1795-1891) in 1827. We learn from the letter that the Dinsmore’s lost two sons but their daughter, Helen Milne Dinsmore (1828-1916) lived 88 years. “Dinsmore was an Episcopalian vestryman in 1839. He died on September 13, 1846, and was buried at his plantation, Wells Point, ten miles west of Palacios.” [Source: Texas State Historical Association]

In 1879, the Texas Legislature passed an act for the relief of the heirs of Silas Dinsmore whose service during the struggle for Texas Independence in 1835 and 1836 was termed “active and zealous.” They further acknowledged that the disease of his lungs leading to the “consumption” that prematurely ended his life, was contracted by the exposure he suffered while defending Galveston Island in 1836. His heirs were awarded a land bounty of 1280 acres.

Silas wrote the letter to his brother, John Bell Dinsmore (1792-1871) of Ripley, Chautaugua County, New York. John was married to Harriet Hall Alden (17xx-1876).

1846 Letter

1846 Letter

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to John B. Dinsmore, Quincy, Ripley, Chautaugua County, State of New York

Near Matagorda, Texas
10 March 1846

Dear Brother,

I received by mail the letter which you sent by Mr. White.

I am now in the last stage of a consumption which has been wearing me away for years. I am still able to walk a little but have not been two hundred yards from the house within the last three months. I do not fear death for I die a Christian — not trusting in my own merits — but in the merits of Christ for salvation.

We have only one child — a daughter — seventeen years old. She is well educated and prudent. We lost two sons — one in infancy and the other ten years old.

I would advise you to give all your sons trades — such trades as are manly and healthy — and let them remain in your northern climate for, with all its faults, you have more of the elements of happiness at the North than we have at the South.

Your affectionate brother, — Silas Dinsmore

Let all our kindred about you read this letter for it is designed for them, as well as for yourself.

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