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WALLER, EDWIN

WALLER, EDWIN (1800–1881). Edwin Waller, signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was born in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, on November 4, 1800. In April 1831 he arrived in Texas from Missouri, where his family had moved. A few months later, on July 20, 1831, Waller received one league of land from the Mexican government in what is now Brazoria County. Soon thereafter, as owner of the Sabine, a vessel used to transport cotton from Velasco to New Orleans, he refused to pay custom duties at Velasco and was arrested by Mexican authorities. After being held but a short time he was released without punishment. He participated as a member of Henry S. Brown's unit in the battle of Velasco on June 26, 1832, and was wounded. In 1833 Waller became alcalde of Brazoria Municipality. He represented the municipality of Columbia at the Consultation in San Felipe de Austin in 1835 and was chosen by its members to serve in the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas. Waller was elected on February 1, 1836, as a delegate from Brazoria to the Convention of 1836, which met at Washington-on-the-Brazos and adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence. As a member of the convention he served on the committee that framed the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Afterward Waller returned to his plantation in Brazoria and in 1838 served as president of the board of land commissioners for Brazoria County. In 1839 he was chosen by President Mirabeau Lamar to supervise the surveying and sale of town lots and the construction of public buildings at the new capital at Austin, located on the fringe of the Texas frontier. After being bonded on April 12, 1839, Waller, protected by a group of armed citizens, began in earnest to carry out his new duties. While in Austin he helped organize Austin Masonic Lodge No. 12 at his residence in 1839. In December of that year he was appointed Texas postmaster general; the Senate confirmed him on December 10, and he resigned the next day.

Waller was elected Austin's first mayor on January 13, 1840, but gave up that position before his term expired. On August 12 of that year he participated in the battle of Plum Creek. Afterward he moved to Austin County and engaged in farming and merchandising. In addition to his private economic endeavors, Waller served as chief justice of Austin County from 1844 to 1856. Meanwhile, he campaigned unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1847. In 1861 Waller was elected to represent Austin County at the Secession Convention. Because he was the only delegate present who had signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, the members voted to allow him the honor of signing the ordinance of secession immediately after the president of the convention signed. The delegates also elected him major of the mounted defense regiment mandated by the secession ordinance. Waller returned to Austin County after the conclusion of the convention. In 1873 the legislature formed a new county from Austin and Grimes counties and honored Waller by naming it for him. When the Texas Veterans Association was organized in 1873, he was elected its first president. At the time of his death Waller was in Austin working as a commissioner to submit names of Texas Revolution veterans entitled to special recognition by the state. Waller married Juliet M. de Shields, a native of Virginia. They had seven children, including Edwin Waller, Jr. Waller died on January 3, 1881, and was buried in the family cemetery in Waller County. In 1928 his remains, along with his wife's, were moved to the State Cemetery in Austin.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Donaly E. Brice, The Great Comanche Raid (Austin: Eakin Press, 1987). John H. Jenkins, ed., The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835–1836 (10 vols., Austin: Presidial Press, 1973). Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones, 1944; rpt. 1959). Edna Rowe, "The Disturbances at Anahuac in 1832," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6 (April 1903). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Waller County Historical Survey Committee, A History of Waller County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1973). E. W. Winkler, ed., Journal of the Secession Convention of Texas (Austin, 1912).

Charles D. Spurlin

Citation

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

Charles D. Spurlin, "WALLER, EDWIN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwa38), accessed November 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.