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HITCHCOCK, LENT MUNSON

HITCHCOCK, LENT MUNSON (1816–1869). Lent Munson Hitchcock, naval officer and Galveston civic leader, was born in Southington, Connecticut, on October 15, 1816, the son of Lent Munson Hitchcock, a seaman. He sailed as a cabin boy at the age of fourteen and continued in the merchant marine and United States naval service for a number of years; he visited Galveston Island-then still a desert isle-for the first time in 1828. He enlisted in the Texas Navy, apparently at New Orleans, on May 2, 1836, and was appointed midshipman on the Independence. He was second lieutenant on the Brutus before he resigned his commission in April 1837. Hitchcock established residence in Galveston, where he was appointed branch pilot on May 6. In August 1838 he helped to organize the town's government. He was named Galveston's first harbor master, a post that he held for thirty years. By 1840 he owned four town lots, one slave, and a saddle horse.

Early in 1838 the Texas Navy purchased the merchant brig Potomac, named for a United States warship on which Hitchcock once served as a mate, from Hitchcock for $8,000. At that time the Potomac was the only ship in the navy. In May 1842, while the Texas government was preparing for an offensive move into Mexico in response to the raids of Rafael Vásquez and Adrián Woll, Hitchcock took charge of the steamer Merchant, lent to the republic by L. M. H. Washington and Edwin Ward Moore to transport volunteers to Galveston. Hitchcock owned a schooner that he occasionally chartered to the Texas government.

In 1850 he owned $3,500 in real estate. His business interests included a grocery store, a ship's chandlery, and the Tremont Hotel. He acquired extensive real estate in Galveston County, including the land on which the town of Hitchcock, named in his honor, is located. In addition he served on the board of directors of the Union Fire and Marine Insurance Company, said to be the oldest insurance company in Texas; the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad; and the Galveston Navigation Company. By 1860 Hitchcock's wealth was estimated at $60,000 in real estate and $60,000 in personal property. He served eight terms as alderman of Galveston and four terms as treasurer; he was several times acting mayor and clerk of council. He was also a charter member of Hook and Ladder Company Number One, reputedly the oldest fire house in Texas. Although his wealth was diminished by the Civil War, he remained quite wealthy after it. He was a Mason, an Odd Fellow, and an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Galveston. Hitchcock married Emily Sarah Elizabeth Ann Clifford in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1839. They had four children, two of whom lived to adulthood. He died in Galveston on February 28, 1869, and was buried in the Episcopal Cemetery there.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Alex Dienst, "The Navy of the Republic of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 12–13 (January-October 1909; rpt., Fort Collins, Colorado: Old Army Press, 1987). Clement Anselm Evans, ed., Confederate Military History (Atlanta: Confederate Publishing, 1899; extended ed., Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1987–89). Charles Waldo Hayes, Galveston: History of the Island and the City (2 vols., Austin: Jenkins Garrett, 1974). Jim Dan Hill, The Texas Navy in Forgotten Battles and Shirtsleeve Diplomacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937; rpt., Austin: State House, 1987). History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of the Cities of Houston and Galveston (Chicago: Lewis, 1895). Tom Henderson Wells, Commodore Moore and the Texas Navy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1960).

Thomas W. Cutrer

Citation

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, "HITCHCOCK, LENT MUNSON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhi36), accessed April 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.