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OLIVER, ASA THOMPSON

OLIVER, ASA THOMPSON (1819–1873). Asa Thompson Oliver, planter, was born on November 14,1819, in Elbert County, Georgia, the son of Simeon and Mildred Oliver. He moved with his wife and children from Mississippi to Texas in the mid-1850s. By 1858 he had acquired almost a half league of prime farmland in the Hempstead area east of the Brazos River in Austin County, now in Waller County. That year his estate, which included seventy slaves, was valued at almost $48,000. By 1860 he had accumulated 105 slaves and held property worth $205,000, ranking him among the county's wealthiest residents. Following the outbreak of the Civil War in the spring of 1861, Oliver was chosen to help organize public defense as a member of the Central Executive Committee of Austin County. Like most large planters he was badly damaged by the Confederate defeat and emancipation; by mid-1865 his estate had plummeted in value to $25,000. In 1866 he and his wife and three children joined the postbellum emigration of former Confederates to Latin America; they settled in the colony of Santa Barbara D'Oeste in the Campinas district of São Paulo province, Brazil. There Oliver purchased an extensive plantation and a number of slaves and began cultivating his property. Unfortunately, his wife, Beatrice, and daughter, Indiana, who had suffered chronic distress since the end of the war and remained debilitated during the voyage to Brazil, contracted tuberculosis. Beatrice succumbed to the disease on July 13, 1868. Since there were no non-Catholic cemeteries nearby, Oliver devoted a small corner of one of his fields to burials and interred his wife there. Indiana, age seventeen, died on April 19, 1869, of the disease and was buried near her mother. That same year Oliver's younger daughter, Mildred, fourteen, distraught over the deaths of her mother and sister and burdened with the care of her father and younger brother, also fell gravely ill; she died shortly before Christmas and was interred beside her loved ones. The family burial ground, known as the "Campo," became a significant Protestant cemetery for the American settlers of the vicinity. A. T. Oliver was buried beside his family after he was murdered by one of his slaves on July 28, 1873. Subsequent owners of the Oliver property erected a small chapel on the cemetery grounds.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Randolph B. Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989). William Clark Griggs, The Elusive Eden: Frank McMullan's Confederate Colony in Brazil (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987). Lawrence F. Hill, "The Confederate Exodus to Latin America," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 39 (October 1935, January, April 1936). C. W. Schmidt, Footprints of Five Generations (New Ulm, Texas: New Ulm Enterprise, 1930).

Charles Christopher Jackson

Citation

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

Charles Christopher Jackson, "OLIVER, ASA THOMPSON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fol07), accessed December 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 24, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.