Erskine, Michael H. (1794–1862)

By: Lawrence J. FitzSimon

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 5, 2016

Michael H. Erskine, cattleman and diarist, son of Michael and Margaret (Paulee) Erskine, was born on January 9, 1794, near Union in what became West Virginia. On February 13, 1817, he married Agnes Davidson Haynes. In 1831 he moved to Huntsville, Alabama, and later to Mississippi, engaging in farming. He moved to Texas in 1839, first locating on Arenosa Creek ten miles from what is now the site of Port Lavaca. The Erskine family lived there during the Linnville Raid and Michael Erskine defended the homestead against a Comanche scouting party. He moved in 1840 to Gonzales County, where he purchased the José de la Baume Ranch on the Guadalupe River near the Capote Hills, twelve miles southeast of Seguin. He took an active part in the development of early Seguin. When Guadalupe County was organized, he was elected chief justice. Erskine prospered in the cattle industry and from his Capote Ranch in 1854 drove a herd of cattle to California. On the drive he had the protection of an armed escort under the command of James H. Callahan. Erskine kept a detailed diary of his experiences on this drive (it was published in 1979). He became involved with several mining ventures, which were apparently failures. In 1859 he returned to Capote Ranch and resumed the raising of cattle. He drove a herd to New Orleans in 1861. During the return trip he died at New Iberia, Louisiana, on May 15, 1862. Michael Erskine had ten children, two of whom, Andrew Nelson and Alexander Madison, were in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Michael Erskine Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. J. Evetts Haley, The Diary of Michael Erskine (Midland, Texas: Nita Stewart Haley Memorial Library, 1979).

  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

Lawrence J. FitzSimon, “Erskine, Michael H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

May 5, 2016