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Inside the Archives: The Tylee and Eberly Families

Inside the Archives

The Tylee and Eberly Families

A Peek at Some of Our Most Interesting Records

Some of our most interesting documents are our oldest and most fragile. The careful handwriting, the remnants of a wax seal, the aged paper, and the illustrative wording provide a rich and intimate knowledge of individuals, along with a snapshot of the culture in which they lived.

As an example, we offer you a look at a few moments in the lives of James Tylee and Jacob and Angelina Eberly. James Tylee led an adventurous life that took him from his birthplace in New York to Texas where he ultimately perished in 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo. Jacob and Angelina Eberly were also participants in the fight for Texas independence. Angelina Eberly is celebrated as the heroine of the Texas Archives War and has been remembered for her bravery with a statue in Austin’s downtown area.

Two Families Who Fought for Texas Independence

Documents submitted in support of a claim by one Texas settler’s estate against that of another reflect the hardships and challenges of living and conducting business during those early days. Documents on file in the matter of the Estate of James Tylee vs. the Estate of Jacob Eberly demonstrate the strong bonds held both between the settlers themselves and between the settlers and their land.

Both Jacob Eberly and James Tylee, along with their wives, arrived in Texas between 1832 and 1834. Eberly moved to Texas from Kentucky, while Tylee was a native of New York. Eberly was later widowed, and Tylee separated from his wife. Ultimately, the colonists would be caught up in the revolution for Texas independence. Like many others, both men decided to fight in defense of their new home. Eberly served in the Texas Army in 1836, and Tylee was among the defenders who perished at the Alamo on March 6th of that year.

After the subsequent burning of San Felipe on March 30th, Jacob Eberly married widow Angelina Peyton in Columbia that same year. The family later moved from Columbia to Bastrop, and finally to Austin in 1839. While in Austin, Mrs. Eberly operated Eberly House. The hotel and boarding house provided accommodations and hospitality to many notable citizens, including Sam Houston and Mirabeau B. Lamar. Jacob Eberly died in Austin in 1841. In December of 1842, Angelina Eberly gained fame as the heroine of what has come to be known as the Texas Archive War. The events surrounding the confrontation resulted when President Sam Houston, unhappy with the choice of Austin as the Texas capital, ordered the archives of Texas removed and transported to the city of Houston. Upon becoming aware that wagons were being loaded with public documents, Angelina Eberly is credited with alerting the citizens of Austin by firing a canon. The wagons containing the archives were pursued, stopped north of Austin in Williamson County, and ultimately returned. A statue of Angelina Eberly firing the canon now stands at the corner of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue in downtown Austin.

After Jacob Eberly’s death, A.J. Yates filed papers in Travis County. Yates was the attorney for Isaac L. Hill, administrator of James Tylee’s estate. Documents filed include certified copies of James Tylee’s 1835 will, a memorandum to Ira R. Lewis, an affidavit from Alexander Somervell, an affidavit from Isaac L. Hill, and the petition by Yates. Documents filed in the case state that Jacob Eberly had, during his lifetime, sold half of his headright of one league (4,428 acres) of land on Wilbarger Creek to James Tylee. Tylee obtained a bond for the title of the land, but never received the deed. The bond was subsequently given to Alexander Somervell, and was later destroyed along with other documents during the burning of San Felipe in 1836. Tylee’s estate claimed that it was still entitled to the land.

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