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PERRY, STEPHEN SAMUEL

PERRY,  STEPHEN SAMUEL (1825–1874) Stephen Samuel Perry was born to James Franklin Perry and Emily Margaret (Austin) Bryan Perry on June 24, 1825, at Potosi, Missouri. He was a nephew of Stephen F. Austin, who was Emily Perry’s brother. The Perry Family, at the urging of Stephen F. Austin, moved from Missouri to the then Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas in what is now Brazoria County in the summer of 1831 and established Peach Point Plantation at the end of 1832.

Stephen S. Perry was homeschooled by his mother, attended school in Brazoria, a boarding school in Steubenville, Ohio, and then Kenyon College in Ohio. After leaving Kenyon College against the wishes of his family in 1845, Perry returned to Brazoria County and began to manage a stock ranch for his father at Pleasant Bayou. By 1850 Perry was a twenty-four-year-old farmer who owned two slaves and $17,000 in real estate.

Perry’s mother died at Peach Point Plantation on August 15, 1851. Two years later his father died of yellow fever in Biloxi, Mississippi, on September 13, 1853. As the oldest of the children, Stephen Perry inherited the Peach Point Plantation. The principal crop for Peach Point in the 1840s and 1850s was sugar cane, a risky but highly profitable crop that required large amounts of slave labor. As result of his inheritance of the Peach Point Plantation and its required labor, by 1860 Perry reported over $200,000 in real property and over $51,000 in personal wealth including the ownership of forty-two slaves. On April 5, 1853, Perry married Sarah McLean Brown of Delaware, Ohio. The couple had eleven children over the course of their marriage; two of their children did not survive past the first months of their lives. Upon the birth of each of his children, Perry planted a live oak tree in the front yard of the Peach Point Plantation mansion.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, Perry was appointed as a major in the Thirteenth Texas Infantry (aka [Joseph] Bates's Regiment) on October 5, 1861. His duties were principally recruiting troops for the regiment. He was not in service long, resigning his commission on April 28, 1862, at Houston, because the regiment had been reduced to five companies by transfers to other units and was not likely to fill to capacity.

Following his resignation, Stephen Perry returned to Peach Point, grew sugar cane and debated whether or not his family was safe on the plantation. There were several occasions when skirmishes or occupation by troops forced the evacuation of the Perry family during the war. They usually went to Independence, Texas, when forced to do so. Peach Point was damaged by troops from both sides during the war. After the war, Perry found himself in debt and unable to pay bills. That condition was to plague him the rest of his life. He was forced to manage the plantation with too few hands and less equipment than he thought needed. In 1868 he wrote a creditor to say he owed $25,000 at the end of the war and had reduced that to about $12,000. He offered land as payment to the creditor. He was selling land at less than market value because of the debts he owed.

Death came to Perry on September 6, 1874, in Quintana, Texas, where he had fallen ill on a business trip. He was buried in the Gulf Prairie Cemetery near Peach Point Plantation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Light Townsend Cummins, Emily Austin of Texas, 1795–1851 (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 2009). Marie Beth Jones, Peach Point Plantation: The First 150 Years (Waco: Texian Press, 1982). Perry (James Franklin and Stephen Samuel) Papers, 1785–1942, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. "Stephen Samuel Perry," Brazoria County Historical Museum (http://www.bchm.org/gene/d0002/g0010030.html#I547), accessed January 13, 2011.

Citation

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

"PERRY, STEPHEN SAMUEL ," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpe97), accessed April 17, 2014. Uploaded on April 8, 2011. Modified on May 26, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.