Townsend, Nathaniel (1804–1864)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

Nathaniel Townsend, merchant and Republic of Texas diplomat, son of Nathan and Dorcas (Gardner) Townsend, was born in Oneida County, New York, on June 24, 1804. Because of his ill health his parents sent him in 1828 to Natchez, Mississippi, to join his brother. There he married Maria Roach in 1829; they had four children. In 1834, on one of his trips from Mississippi to St. Louis, Townsend met Stephen F. Austin and became interested in Texas. After an exploratory trip, he moved his family to San Felipe de Austin, where he set up a general store. His business was burned when the Mexican army passed through in March 1836. On April 2, 1837, Townsend was named consul at New Orleans for the Republic of Texas by President Sam Houston; he served in that position until September 20, 1838. He moved to Austin in 1839, when the town was selected as the national capital. About 1841 he built a frame store on what is now Congress Avenue and stocked drugs, groceries, hardware, harness, and plows. After his wife died in New Orleans, he sent his children to school in the East, and on a visit to them he married Angeline Townsend at Williamstown, Massachusetts, on September 11, 1847. The family returned to New Orleans for three years, and in 1850 Townsend again began merchandising in Austin. His business prospered. He constructed a mansion between Seventeenth and Eighteenth streets and staffed it with a retinue of slaves. Because of his poor health he returned to New York during the Civil War. He died there in 1864 and was buried at Holland Corner.

Alma Howell Brown, "The Consular Service of the Republic of Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33 (January, April 1930). Annie Doom Pickrell, Pioneer Women in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1929).

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

Anonymous, “Townsend, Nathaniel,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 20, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995