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BRIGHAM, ASA

BRIGHAM, ASA (ca. 1790–1844). Asa Brigham, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, first treasurer of the Republic of Texas, and mayor of Austin, was born in Massachusetts about 1790. With his wife, Elizabeth S., two sons, a daughter, and a son-in-law, he arrived in Texas from Louisiana in April 1830. In December the ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin announced his election as síndico procurador for the precinct of Victoria (Brazoria), and in December 1831 he was elected comisario for the same precinct. He was one of those who signed a document on June 20, 1832, indicating readiness to participate in military operations in the interest of Texas independence. On October 6, 1832, he was elected treasurer for the Brazoria district. Brigham was appointed a member of the Brazoria board of health in 1831. After 1832 he kept a ferry at Brazoria, where he ran a mercantile business with his son-in-law, and later he was a stockholder in the San Saba Colonization Company and receiver of stock for the Brazos and Galveston Railroad. He acquired leagues of land at Hall's Bayou in Brazoria County and in Galveston and Bastrop counties, and raised sugar, cotton, corn, and cattle. By 1833 his daughter, wife, and son-in-law had all died. Though he held slaves for a time, Brigham later signed petitions for free blacks. As one of those instrumental in establishing a Masonic lodge at Brazoria, he served as junior warden there and was also a charter member of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, organized at Houston on December 20, 1837.

Brigham was elected Brazoria alcalde in 1835. He served as one of four representatives from Brazoria to the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He remained at the convention until at least March 16, 1836. David G. Burnet appointed him auditor of the Republic of Texas, and President Sam Houston named him treasurer on December 20, 1836. He was the first to hold the latter office and was reappointed by Mirabeau B. Lamar in January 1839. On February 16, 1839, Brigham became a Houston alderman while serving as national treasurer. He left the treasury on April 12, 1840; later that year he was charged with using state funds for private purposes but was cleared. Houston reappointed him treasurer on December 31, 1841, and in 1842 Brigham became mayor of Austin.

After the death of his first wife he married Mrs. Ann Johnson Mather, on July 8, 1839. He died on July 3, 1844, at Washington, Texas, where he is buried. A monument was erected by the state of Texas at the burial site in 1936, and Brigham's remains were removed to a site in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site sometime later.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Eugene C. Barker, ed., "Minutes of the Ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin, 1828–1832," 12 parts, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21–24 (January 1918–October 1920). Joseph W. Hale, "Masonry in the Early Days of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 49 (January 1946). Andrew Forest Muir, "The Free Negro in Harris County, Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 46 (January 1943). Andrew Forest Muir, "Railroad Enterprise in Texas, 1836–1841," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 47 (April 1944). Levonne Durham Rochelle, Life and Times of Asa Brigham: Treasurer of the Republic of Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1956). Sam A. Shuler, "Stephen F. Austin and the City of Austin," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (January 1966). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

L. W. Kemp

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

L. W. Kemp, "BRIGHAM, ASA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbr49), accessed December 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.