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William Pitt Ballinger papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00036

Scope and Contents

This collection, produced and collected by William Pitt Ballinger (1825-1888), soldier, attorney, and businessman of Galveston, Texas, remains one of the outstanding sources of documentation for nineteenth-century Texan and Southern development and history. The papers are equally valuable for the study of the extended family and prominent associates of Ballinger.

The papers are particularly rich in documentary value for the post-1850 period when Ballinger served as United States district attorney for the Texas District and later when he opened his private practice. Many of them relate to the financial and legal affairs of Galveston businesses and antebellum plantations in southeast Texas. A large number of the papers document Ballinger's service as Confederate States receiver for Galveston during the Civil War. His voluminous correspondence with Texan and Southern officials and with officers and men in Confederate service are also reflected here. Many of the papers from the post-Civil War period relate to his involvement with railroads in Texas and to other business and civic affairs of Ballinger and his associates in Galveston. His personal diary (1854-1886), which is accompanied by a typed transcription and an index, contains much information about that city.

The papers include correspondence, diaries, literary productions, business papers, legal papers, pamphlets, broadsides, and other printed items, newspaper clippings, maps, and a photograph.


  • Creation: 1815 - 1909


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Biographical Note

William Pitt Ballinger, attorney, born in Kentucky in 1825, moved to Galveston in 1843 and began the study of law with an uncle, James Love. He was admitted to the bar in 1847. During the Mexican War, he enlisted as a private and advanced through the ranks to be adjutant of Albert Sidney Johnston's regiment. In 1850 he married Hallie P. Jack of Brazoria County.

Ballinger served as a United States district attorney for Texas from 1850 until 1854, when he became a partner in a Galveston law firm with Thomas McKinney Jack and M. L. Mott. In 1861 Ballinger was appointed Confederate receiver by Judge D. G. Hill of the Confederate District Court.

Gov. Pendleton Murrah and Gen. John Bankhead Magruder, commander of the district of Texas, appointed Ballinger and Ashbel Smith special commissioners at the end of the Civil War to secure terms of peace for the state.

Ballinger declined appointments to the Texas Supreme Court in 1871 and in 1874. He participated in the Constitutional Convention of 1875 as a member of the Judicial Committee. Texans offered Ballinger the Democratic nomination for governor in July 1878, but he refused.


36.39 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection, produced and collected by William Pitt Ballinger (1825-1888), soldier, attorney, and businessman of Galveston, Texas, is one of the outstanding sources of documentation for nineteenth-century Texas and Southern history, particularly of the Confederacy and the post-Civil War period.

Separated Materials

Money Collection

TXC box 6 and A:

  • 92 related to legal matters concerning railroads, mostly in Texas
  • 39 related to businesses, organizations, and persons in Galveston, Tx.
  • 18 related to government and laws of Galveston Tx.
  • 104 related to government, businesses, or organizations elsewhere in Texas
  • 16 related to United States, Confederate States of America, or Texas state government or laws
  • 36 related to legal cases, many in Texas or of Texan origin
  • 42 related to businesses, organizations, or persons outside Texas
  • 2 miscellaneous
  • Status
    Ready To Publish
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description

    Repository Details

    Part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Repository

    2300 Red River Street
    Austin TX 78712