Sunday, October 18, 2009

George Wilkins Kendall

George W. Kendall


 George Wilkins Kendall and his three daughters. He had four children: Georgina (1850-1947), George William (1852-1876), Caroline Louise (1853-1899), and Henry Fletcher (1855-1913).

A native of New Hampshire George Wilkins Kendall was a journalist by profession. He was co-founder of the New Orleans "Picayune" newspaper in 1837. Kendall later wrote books chronicling his experiences with the 1841 Texas Santa Fe Expedition and the Mexican War. he moved to this area in 1857 and became a sheep rancher. His promotional efforts led to growth and development of the county, which was named for him in 1862. 
See other photos of Texas Historical markers about George Wilkins Kendall here

A molder of world opinion. His theme: greatness of Texas. Born in New Hampshire. Learned printing and worked in New Yori, Boston and Washington, D.C. With Francis A. Lumsden, in 1837 founded New Orleans "Picayune". Joined the Texan-Santa Fe Expedition, 1841, as a reporter. Was imprisoned along with other ill-fated members. Wrote a book on the expedition. During Mexican War, 1846-1848, often rode with the Texas Rangers, in world's first war coverage by a foreign correspondent; filed his news by Pony Express. In 1847 settled on Texas sheep range, at Post Oak Springs. Continuing news columns brought him in a single mail 300 letters from far away as Sandwich Islands, inquiring about Texas. During the Civil War, produced wool for Confederate uniforms, blankets. Proposed a weaving mill on Comal River for making cloth near the flocks. Received no government response. To keep producing wook, had to fight COmanches, range fires, freezing disasters. When roaming vandals threatened to kill sheepherders, he and his teenage son tended flocks themselves. To end of his life, his regular dispatches to the "Picayune" continued to praise good life in Texas. (1965)


George Wilkins Kendall, journalist and pioneer Texas sheepman, was born on August 22, 1809, at Mont Vernon, near Amherst, New Hampshire, the son of Thaddeus and Abigail (Wilkins) Kendall. He learned printing at Burlington, Vermont, and practiced his trade first in Washington and then for Horace Greeley in New York. About 1832 he worked for a year on the Mobile Alabama Register, then moved to New Orleans. There, with Francis Lumsden, he founded the city's first cheap daily, the New Orleans Picayune, named after the inconsequential coin then current in Louisiana. The first edition, a four-page folio, appeared in January 1837. A humorist, Kendall filled the paper with light banter that increased its popularity. The Picayune prospered, and in time became a powerful force for the annexationqv of Texas and westward expansion. In 1841 at Austin Kendall joined the Texan Santa Fe expedition,qv launched by Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar.qv Near Tucumcari, New Mexico, the expedition, suffering hardships and confusion, surrendered to the Mexican army. Kendall marched as a prisoner to Mexico City, where he and others were imprisoned for a time in a leper colony. The Picayune published twenty-three of his letters (June 17, 1841-April 30, 1842) detailing his experiences, and influential friends secured his release in May 1842. On his return to New Orleans Kendall ran a serial account of the expedition in the Picayune, and in 1844 he published Narrative of the Texan Santa Fé Expedition, a 900-page book that sold 40,000 copies in eight years. When it appeared in book format, much of Kendall's material had been plagiarized in Frederick Marryat's Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of Monsieur Violet. For the next three years Kendall's Picayune advocated war with Mexico. When the Mexican Warqv came in 1846 Kendall became a volunteer in Capt. Benjamin McCulloch'sqv Texas Ranger company, attached to Gen. Zachary Taylor'sqv army on the Rio Grande. He accompanied the rangers on long and dangerous reconnaissances and was present at the storming of Monterrey. Kendall's reporting brought immediate fame, and he was hailed as the nation's first war correspondent. Kendall next traveled with the staff of Gen. William Jenkins Worth and recorded Gen. Winfield Scott's landing at Veracruz and the subsequent Mexico City campaign. Kendall was wounded in the knee in the storming of Chapultepec. After the war Kendall sojourned in Europe for several years, and in 1849 in Paris he married Adeline de Valcourt. The couple had four children. There too, he prepared his second book, The War between the United States and Mexico, which was published in 1851 with a profusion of illustrations by Carl Nebel.

In the 1850s Kendall played a major role in promoting the sheep business in Texas. In 1852 he and three friends purchased and placed twenty-four Spanish merino rams and a flock of chaurro ewes on a ranch on the Nueces River, and employed Joe Tait, an experienced herder from Scotland, as manager. Within a year Kendall moved the flock to the Waco Springs Ranch, near New Braunfels, and acquired the Post Oak Springs pasture, near Boerne. He battled blizzards, grass fires, and disease until 1856, when he began making a profit. The flock doubled to 3,500 animals within two years and he found a market for his wool clip in Atlanta, Georgia. Kendall promoted the Texas sheep business in every way. He regularly described his experiences in the Picayune and praised the Texas Hill country as a sheep range. His merino (and rambouillet) rams produced a graded flock, and he sold rams around the state. In 1858 he began contributing an article on the Texas sheep industry to the annual Texas Almanac.qv When the scab disease became an epidemic in 1864, Kendall was the first to build large vats and dip his flock of 5,000. The postwar years brought prosperity. At his death on October 21, 1867, Kendall generally was regarded as the father of the sheep business in Texas. Kendall County was named in his honor. Kendall's daughter Georgina was a well-known civic leader in San Antonio and was largely responsible for the preservation of the Kendall family papers, which were sold in 1989.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Paul H. Carlson, Texas Woolybacks: The Range Sheep and Goat Industry (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982). Fayette Copeland, Kendall of the Picayune (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1943). H. Bailey Carroll, The Texan Santa Fe Trail (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1951). Robert Walter Johansen, To the Halls of the Montezumas: The Mexican War in the American Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Thomas W. Cutrer

Also see this from the University of Texas Library, where is family papers are archives thanks to Georgina de Valcourt Kendall Fellowes. Includes application to the DAR. In Box 15, photographs and papers are kept of family members, including: Other Kendall Family Members. George W. Kendall (Son of Thaddeus), Abigail Wilkins Kendall (George W. Kendall's mother), Caroline (Carrie) Kendall, Amanda Kendall (wife of T. R. Kendall), Ralph, Caslie and Grace Kendall, Helene Kendall, and Richmond Kendall (son of Thaddeus).

After traveling extensively in Europe and living in Paris, where he met his wife Adeline de Valcourt, he and his family moved back to the United States; first to New Orleans, where the family only spent one year, and then to New Braunfels, Texas, in 1856. About 1860 the family once again moved, this time to Boerne, Texas, where Kendall would take up sheep ranching and introduce Merinos sheep to the region. He died at his ranch in Boerne from pneumonia on October 21, 1867.

He and Adeline de Valcourt had four children: Georgina (1850-1947), George William (1852-1876), Caroline Louise (1853-1899), and Henry Fletcher (1855-1913). After her father's death, Georgina de Valcourt Kendall Fellowes took up the task of preserving the records of her father and attempting to publish George Wilkins Kendall's manuscript, The War Between the United States and Mexico. She also preserved the records of her other family members, documenting their lives at the ranch in Boerne. Georgina Fellowes provided access to her family's records to a number of researchers.

The most substantial work based on the Kendall Family papers is Fayette Copeland's Kendall of the Picayune (1943). Georgina provided Copeland with full access to the collection, and a lengthy written correspondence between the two also sheds light on certain aspects of the life of George Wilkins Kendall and life of the Kendall family in early Texas.

Georgina married Eugene Fellowes in 1873. Eugene grew up in New Orleans, but had moved and become a member of the Illinois State Legislature. He and Georgina had one child, Kendall Fellowes, who had a career in acting in New York City. The family moved to Spokane, Washington, for the benefit of Eugene's health in 1883. He continued to practice law and was a member of the legislature when Washington became a state in 1889.

George William Kendall, like all of the Kendall children, was born in France and came to America with his parents in 1855. It was hoped that the climate in Texas would improve George's health as he was never strong. After his father's death in 1867, George assisted in the care of the ranch and of the large flock of sheep. He died, unmarried, in 1876 while visiting an aunt in Vermont.

Caroline Louise Kendall (Carrie) was discovered to be unable to hear or talk at the age of one year. When her family moved to America in 1855, she remained in France with her maternal grandmother in order to continue studies under Dr. Houdin, who was teaching her to articulate. She was able to make herself well understood in French. She came to America after the close of the Civil War and attended a school in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she learned to read and write English. She died, unmarried, on July 4, 1899.

Henry Fletcher Kendall graduated from West Point in 1878 and spent the majority of his service career in the Eighth Cavalry. He was stationed to a variety of posts in Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oregon. He married Mary Adair Jordan in 1887 and they had two children: Adeline and William Henry. While being transported to Manila in 1902, Fletcher became seriously ill and never fully recovered. He retired from the active service in 1905 and died in Portland, Oregon, in 1913.

Adolphe de Valcourt was born in Versailles, France, in 1828. He was the brother of Adeline de Valcourt Kendall. He was involved in the building of the Suez Canal and fought in the Franco-Prussian War. Their father, August Poirot de Valcourt, fought with Napoleon and was involved in the disastrous campaign in Moscow.

Nathan Kendall was George Wilkins Kendall's great great-grandfather. His will was passed down through the family, however, he had a son and a grandson named Nathan Kendall, which, sometimes, causes confusion.

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