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Calder, Robert James  ( 1810 July 17  -  1885 Aug 28 )

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CALDER, ROBERT JAMES -- Born in Baltimore, Maryland, July 17 1810, a son of James H. and Jane E. (Caldwell) Calder. Mr. James H. Calder died when Robert was a child and he was reared by his mother in the home of her father, James P. Caldwell. Mr. Caldwell, then a widower, Mrs. Calder and Robert J. Calder came to Texas in 1832 and settled in what is now Brazoria County. In Headright Certificate No. 57 for a league and labor of land issued to Captain Calder February 1, 1838 by the Brazoria County Board of Land Commissioners it is simply stated that he arrived in Texas prior to May 2, 1835.

On June 26, 1832, Mr. James H. Caldwell settled in what is now Brazoria County. On June 28 of that year Mr. Caldwell was Adjutant of Captain John Austin's Company in the battle of Velasco, but Mr. Calder arrived on the scene too late to participate in the affray.

In 1835 eighteen young men of Brazoria Municipality organized themselves into a company, the command of which was offered to Dr. Branch T. Archer, who refused, and then to James W. Fannin, who accepted. John York was elected First Lieutenant and Calder Second Lieutenant. On the 28th of October, 1835, Fannin's Company with a portion of Captain Robert M. Coleman's Company, was detailed to select a site for the encampment of the whole army. There were one hundred and five men in the whole detachment, rank and file. They moved and halted before the Mission of Concepcion just before sunset without dismounting. The force encamped in a horseshoe bend below San Antonio, Lieutenant Calder being placed as a long sentinel on top of the mission. The next morning the battle of Concepcion was fought. When Fannin was appointed recruiting officer, Mr. Calder accompanied him and consequently did not participate in the Storming and capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10.

On December 7, 1835, Mr. Calder was appointed Third Lieutenant of Artillery by the General Council of the Provisional Government.

Mr. Calder reenlisted in the army March 1, 1836, and on March 6th he arrived at Gonzales. There on the 12th he was elected Captain of a company of volunteers, most of whom resided in what are now Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Matagorda Counties. The organization became Company K, First Regiment of Texas Volunteers, and was commanded by Captain Calder at San Jacinto. On June 21, 1838 he was issued Donation Certificate No. 361 for having participated in the battle. On December 21, 1837, he received Bounty Certificate No. 1225 for 640 acres of land for having served in the army from March 1 to October 23, 1836.

On April 23, 1836, Benjamin C. Franklin was detailed to carry dispatches from the battlefield to President David C. Burnet in Galveston announcing the victory won by the Texas Army, and Captain Calder accompanied him in an unofficial capacity.

In February 1837, Captain Calder was elected the first sheriff of Brazoria County, holding that office for six years. In 1838 he arrested the notorious forger Monroe Edwards and placed him in jail at Brazoria. Before the end of that yeer, Captain Calder while still sheriff, was elected mayor of Brazoria. He was elected Chief Justice of Brazoria County on December 16, 1844, and again on July 13, 1846, from which position he resigned during the latter part of the year to remove to Richmond, Fort Bend County. In 1859 he was elected Mayor of the city of Richmond. From July 1866 to April 1869, he served as Chief Justice of Fort Bend County. Retiring from public life, he practiced law at Richmond in partnership with Major W. L. Davidson.

Captain Calder was elected one of the vice presidents of the Texas Historical Society at its organization at Houston, May 23, 1870.

On August 25, 1881, Captain Calder presided at the unveiling of a monument at Galveston that was later erected on the San Jacinto Battlefield dedicated to the memory of the nine Texans who were killed or mortally wounded there on April 20 and 21, 1836. An extended account of the Battle of San Jacinto written by Captain Calder was published in the Texas Almanac of 186l.

Captain Calder and Miss Mary Douglass, daughter of Major Samuel C. Douglass, were married January 3, 1837, by Judge Benjamin C. Franklin. Captain Calder died August 28, 1885, and was buried under the auspices of Richmond Masonic Lodge No. 72, the Reverend Hotchkiss preaching the funeral services. Mrs. Calder, born in Georgia, November 15, 1815, died at the home of her daughter Mrs. Anne M. Williams in Galveston November 10, 1892. Her remains were placed beside those of her husband in Morton Cemetery at Richmond. In 1929 the State of Texas erected a joint monument at their graves.

Children of Captain and Mrs. Calder were Robert, Jane Eliza, Anne Maria, Samuel Douglass, James P. and Zemula Calder.

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.


Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Rank: Captain
  • Company: First Regiment Texas Volunteers
  • Battle Account: Texas Almanac 1861

Personal Statistics

  • Date of Birth: 1810 July 17
  • Birthplace: Maryland, Baltimore
  • Origin: Kentucky
  • Came to Texas: 1832
  • Date of Death: 1885 Aug 28
  • Other Battles: Concepcion
  • Bounty Certificate: 1225
  • Donation Certificate: 361
  • Profession: Lawyer
  • Wife: Mary Douglass
  • Children: Robert Calder; Jane Eliza Calder Davidson; Anne Maria Calder Williams; Samuel Douglass Calder; James P. Calder; Zemula Calder


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