Hammeken, George Louis, Jr. (1811–1881)

By: Herbert H. Lang

Revised by: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 2, 2022

George Louis Hammeken Jr. early businessman, government official, and historian, was born in New York on March 10, 1811, the son of George Louis and Elizabeth (Ogden) Hammeken. His father served as a consul for Denmark in the United States. He moved to Mexico around 1831. In 1833 he met Stephen F. Austin, who advised him to settle in Texas. He arrived as the representative of Manning and Marshall, agents for the British banking firm of Barings, in October 1835. When the Texas Revolution curtailed his activities, he went to New Orleans and Mexico City but returned to Texas in December 1836. At Brazoria in 1837 he translated Vicente Filisola's Evacuation of Texas. With a number of others, he petitioned the Texas Congress on May 5, 1837, for a charter to build a railroad from Galveston Bay to the Brazos River. Hammeken later became president of that road, the Brazos and Galveston, and a landowner at Austinia, the town planned as the principal office of the company. He was appointed secretary to Barnard E. Bee, Texas agent in Mexico, on March 12, 1839, and continued as secretary to Bee's successor, James Webb, in April 1841. In 1839 he wrote to President Mirabeau B. Lamar suggesting a peace commission with Mexico.

In the early 1840s Hammeken and Andrews, commission merchants, erected a cotton press, wharf, and warehouse at the short-lived community of San Luis on San Luis Island, and Hammeken interested Philadelphia businessmen and foreign investors in the project. Believing that planters along the Brazos River needed better port facilities, he converted the plan for a railroad to a plan for a canal from the river to San Luis, but after 1843 both projects were abandoned. By 1845 Hammeken was in New Orleans, showing signs of illness that some attributed to his financial difficulties.

He married Adelaide Matilda Mexía, daughter of Mexican general José Antonio Mexía, in 1846. The couple had two children and apparently moved back and forth between New Orleans and Mexico City, where Hammeken was instrumental in the development of several major industries, including the construction of the first train in that area. Later in life, Hammeken, along with his brother-in-law Enrique Guillermo Antonio Mexía, managed the vast Central Texas land holdings of the Mexía family. He died in Mexico City on January 22, 1881. Hammeken's "Recollections of Stephen F. Austin" was published as an article in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in April 1917.

Brazoria County Federation of Women's Clubs, History of Brazoria County (1940).

  • Transportation and Railroads
Time Periods:
  • Mexican Texas
  • Republic of Texas
  • East Texas
  • Upper Gulf Coast

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

Herbert H. Lang Revised by Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, “Hammeken, George Louis, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hammeken-george-louis.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 2, 2022

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: