Underwood, Ammon (1810–1887)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 1995

Ammon Underwood, early settler, son of Asa and Mercy (Durant) Underwood, was born at Dracut, Massachusetts, on February 13, 1810. In 1834 he took passage from Boston to Texas and arrived at Velasco on April 18. In the succeeding months, in an effort to find suitable partners and a location for a business of his own, he visited many Texas communities, made a buying trip to New Orleans, worked in a hotel at San Felipe, clerked in the Thomas Cochran store there, worked for W. J. Eaton in Columbia, and kept books for several business firms. He joined the Texas army in October 1835 and traveled to Bexar, where he was involved in a skirmish on October 25. On November 4, one day before the siege of Bexar, he went on furlough. On January 25, 1836, he received a land grant of a quarter league from the Mexican government. In the spring of 1836 he was acting post commissary at Columbia and returned from the Runaway Scrape to reestablish order there. Eventually Underwood decided on a business partnership with John P. Coles and David H. Milburn. Underwood was postmaster at Columbia from 1836 to 1845. In January 1839 he married Rachel Jane Carson. For fifty years the Underwoods continued the mercantile business at Columbia and lived in the same home there. Sam Houston nominated Underwood to be justice of the peace in Brazoria County on January 15, 1842, but withdrew the nomination three days later. Underwood owned twelve slaves in 1850 and thirty-four in 1860. Much of the Underwood fortune was invested in cotton and was lost during the Civil War. Underwood represented the Brazoria district in the Nineteenth Legislature (1884), in which he served on the Finance, Insurance, Statistics and History, and Public Buildings and Grounds committees. He was a field observer for a study of cotton insects (1887–89) and an incorporator for the Columbia, Wharton and Austin Railroad (1854) and the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad (1856). When he died at Columbia, on November 17, 1887, he was survived by his wife and four children.

S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). James K. Greer, "The Journal of Ammon Underwood, 1834–1838," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 32 (October 1928). Louis Wiltz Kemp Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. E. H. Loughery, Personnel of the Texas State Government for 1885 (Austin: Snyder, 1885). Virginia H. Taylor, The Spanish Archives of the General Land Office of Texas (Austin: Lone Star, 1955). Telegraph and Texas Register, January 19, 1839. Ammon Underwood Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970).

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

Anonymous, “Underwood, Ammon,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/underwood-ammon.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995