19th Century research collection
Scope and Contents
The 19th Century research collection contains photostatic copies of correspondence created while structuring the Catholic Church in Texas and the establishment of the Diocese of Galveston. The letters include descriptions of the day-to-day life in newly independent Texas and document the activities of French missionary priests. The language of the correspondence is French or English, and some letters are transcribed into French or translated into English. Items marked with an asterisk * indicate materials are available in English.
Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the sender’s last name and grouped by the archive where the photostatic copies were acquired.
- Creation: 1822 - 1954
- Catholic Archives of Texas (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are available by appointment only. Contact the archivist for details.
After gaining independence from Mexico, there were few functioning Catholic Churches in the Republic of Texas due to a withdrawal of Mexican diocesan priests. At the time, San Fernando Church in San Antonio was the only active parish north of the Nueces River. The Vatican cautiously debated the idea of establishing a diocese for the Republic of Texas due to ongoing political and military tensions with Mexico. However, Catholics in Texas soon voiced concerns over the lack of active parishes and organized efforts to establish a diocese.
In 1838, Pope Gregory XVI authorized Archbishop Antoine Blanc of New Orleans, the closest prelate, to send priests to Texas. Father John Timon was selected as Prefect of Texas to head the task of overseeing missionary priests and to document statewide conditions. Many of the young priests and seminarians hailed from France under the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) or Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate orders. These men would become known as saddlebag priests as they would travel several hundred miles throughout the state to serve Catholics in the frontier.
To assist with securing land deeds of existing parishes (previously owned by Mexican dioceses) Timon appointed Father Jean-Marie Odin, C.M. as Vicar Apostolic of Texas. Odin also oversaw calls for volunteer priests and traveled across the state to celebrate Mass.
In 1847, the Diocese of Galveston was established as the first diocese in Texas, and Odin was installed as its first bishop. New parishes, schools, hospitals, and religious orders were established throughout the state under Odin's leadership. Today, many Catholic institutions can trace their origins to the 19th-century volunteer priests and Odin.
10 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
The 19th Century research collection contains photostatic copies of correspondence created while structuring the Catholic Church in Texas and the establishment of the Diocese of Galveston.
Vincentian Papers, University of Notre Dame, 1833-1847
Paris Vincentian Motherhouse, 1836-1856
Lyon/ Paris Propagation of the Faith (SPF), 1841-1909
New Orleans Collection, University of Notre Dame Archives, 1835-1884
Diocese of Galveston Archives, 1840-1930
Rome Archives of the Sacred Propagation of the Faith, 1837-1951
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Catholic Archives of Texas Repository
6225 E US 290 HWY EB SVRD
Austin TX 78723 United States