Attwell, James (ca. 1815–unknown)

By: Mary M. Standifer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

James Attwell (Atwell), printer, newspaper publisher, and editor, was born in New York and apparently moved to Texas soon after the Texas Revolution. He was publisher and printer of the Matagorda Colorado Gazette and Advertiser, the first issue of which appeared on May 16, 1839, with W. Donaldson as editor. By December 25, 1839, Attwell had sold the paper to William Douglas Wallach, but he continued to work on the Gazette as a printer. Whenever Wallach was away, Attwell served as his "authorized Agent" and had "entire control" of the paper. The Gazette apparently ceased publication in 1843. Attwell later became editor and proprietor of the Matagorda Weekly Despatch (1843–46). He was apparently assisted in the editorial work by Richard Drake Sebring, who died in August 1844. By 1850 Attwell had moved to Lavaca (now Port Lavaca). In early 1854 he published the first number of the Lavaca Register with Edward B. Mantor as editor. The Register continued to be published for about a year. In 1857 Attwell bought the Lavaca Herald (1855–59) from James C. Rowan and became publisher and editor. He issued the paper until late 1859, when it was bought out and became the Gulf Key. Attwell likely worked as a printer on other papers in Matagorda and Lavaca during the 1840s and 1850s. In 1844 in Matagorda he printed a four-page prospectus for James Wilmer Dallam's Digest of the Laws of Texas. On March 27, 1841, Attwell was elected justice of the peace for beat two in Matagorda County, and in 1847 he was listed as a contributor to a library fund in Matagorda. In the 1860 census for Lavaca, Attwell claimed $500 each in real and personal property.

Compiled Index to Elected and Appointed Officials of the Republic of Texas, 1835–1846 (Austin: State Archives, Texas State Library, 1981). Joe B. Frantz, Newspapers of the Republic of Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., Houston: Armstrong, 1986). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). Thomas W. Streeter, Bibliography of Texas, 1795–1845 (5 vols., Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1955–60).
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters

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

Mary M. Standifer, “Attwell, James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 07, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994