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Biography of Calder, R.J., Capt.
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Kentucky,Maryland,Texas | No Comments
Veteran Of San Jacinto
Captain Calder was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on the 17th of July 1810, and was the son of James H. and Jane E. Calder (nee Miss Caldwell). His father dying when he was very small, young Calder was raised by his paternal uncle, Major James P. Caldwell (a noble and generous man), until he arrived at the age of manhood. From Maryland he, his mother, and Major Caldwell, moved to Kentucky, and from there to Texas in 1832, settling in Brazoria County. Soon after trouble commenced with the Mexican authorities, which culminated in the battle of Velasco in June, 1832. Young Calder, in company with other citizens of Brazoria County, repaired to the scene of action, but arrived too late for the fight; however, they remained on duty there until the final surrender of the fort.
In 1833 his mother died, a true, noble Christian woman. Major Caldwell survived until 1856, dying with yellow fever, in Brazoria County, at the house of his stepson. Mordella Monson.
Mr. Calder held various positions in the civil service. In 1835 he was appointed Marshal of the Republic of Texas by President David G. Burnett. The duties of this office were to tale charge of wrecks and prizes and execute the laws of Judge Benj. C. Franklin. During this same year he joined the “army of the people” under General Stephen F. Austin, when the Mexicans attacked the Texans at Gonzales and were driffen off, and they went back to San Anna second lieutenant in the company of Captain J. W. Fannin, John York being first lieutenant. After the battle of Mission Conception Captain Calder came back home and was not at the taking of San Antonio.
When the Mexican army advanced to the conquest of Texas after the fall of the Alamo in March, 1836, Mr. Calder was elected captain of Company K, composed principally of Brazoria County men. He was in all the retreat east, and participated with his men in the battle of San Jacinto, and was the first man, in company with Judge Franklin, to carry the news of the victory to President Burnett. They left the battleground in a skiff, going down the San Jacinto River to the bay. In his company was Anson Jones, afterwards President of the Republic, and Judge Benj. C. Franklin.
Captain Calder was married at Brazoria, Texas, December the 27th, 1836, to Miss Mary W. Douglas, a native of Georgia.
In February, 1837, he was elected sheriff of Brazoria County, which position he held six years, and during that time arrested the famous forger, Monroe Edwards. While acting in the capacity of sheriff, he was taken by a mob and placed in jail in the town of Brazoria to prevent his imprisoning Willis Alston, whom they had determined to kill and did kill as soon as the sheriff was locked up and the prisoner in their possession. They then release the sheriff and apologized to him for their action, saying it was for his good that they did so.
In 1838 he was mayor of Brazoria and from 1844 to 1846 was chief justice and probate judge of Brazoria County. From 1846 to 1858 he lived a quiet, retired life on his farm in Fort Bend County, to which place he had removed in 1846. In 1869 he was mayor of Richmond, and from July, 1866, to April 1869, he was judge of probate and chief justice of Fort Bend County, a position from which he was removed by the federal military authorities.
During his residence in Richmond he was engaged in some mercantile business, and practiced law in partnership with his son-in-law, Major W. L. Davidson.
Captain Calder always contended that General Houston was right in his retreats before Santa Anna, and that he fought the battle of San Jacinto from choice and not because he was forced to fight (as some assert), and that he never held a council of war, but acted at all times on his own responsibility.
Captain Calder was a Mason, and Past High Priest of the Chapter. He died at Richmond August the 28th, 1885, aged seventy-five years, one month and nine days. He was buried by the Masonic fraternity, No. 72, A. F. and A. M., offiiciating, and it was one of the largest funeral processions ever seen in Richmond. Among those present were Thomas J. Smith, Geo. W. Pleasants, Judge Williams, Major Cain and Judge Sullivan, the Rev. Hotchkiss officiating in the ceremonies. Thus was laid to rest the last surviving captain of the twenty-two who led their men to victory on the bloody field of San Jacinto.
A few months after the death of Captain Calder he was followed by his wife, who died at Galveston while on a visit there. Besides two that died in infancy, they had six children, three girls and three boys, who lived to womanhood and manhood. Robert, the eldest, a member of the famous Terry Rangers, was killed in battle during the civil war, and his body was carried from the field on a horse by Mr. Clem Bassett, now of Richmond, Texas. Jane Eliza married W. L. Davidson and lives in Richmond. Jennie W. never married, but is still living. Ann Maria married J. C. Williams, deceased, and she now resides in Galveston. Samuel D. married Lola Lamar, daughter of General M. B. Lamar. He died at Boerne, Kendall County, but his remains were conveyed to Richmond, Texas, and buried in the cemetery there. His widow now lives in Galveston. James P. married Sallie Weston. He died, and she married Sandy Herndon.
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