Henry W. Raguet was born in 1796 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He, along with thousands of other early Texas settlers, would not be considered famous. Individuals like him aren’t written up in textbooks and have no streets, towns, counties or buildings named for them. They simply lived their lives and raised their families, despite whatever hardships and tragedies that they endured.
Henry had previously served in the United States forces during the War of 1812. Around this time, he married Marcia Ann Towers of Somerset, Pennsylvania. After Raguet was discharged from the army, he returned to Pennsylvania to his family and shortly thereafter relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio where he worked in a banking business which operated for a few years. However, the banking venture ultimately failed. Following the bankruptcy and closing of the bank, Henry took a trip to New Orleans where he happened to meet Sam Houston. Houston invited him to join him on a trip to Nacogdoches, Texas, leading Raguet to decide to move there. On the way back to Ohio to arrange the move, he met William Logan in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The two struck up a friendship and decided to go in business together. Logan and Raguet opened a mercantile business in Nacogdoches shortly thereafter.
Raguet served as a staff officer under Sam Houston in the Texas Revolution and was in service during the Battle of San Jacinto. He and his wife had six children who lived to adulthood. Son Henry Wynkoop Raguet, Jr. took over the family mercantile business in 1852 until the outbreak of the Civil War. Henry, Jr. enlisted as a private in Gen. Tom Greene’s brigade. He continued to serve, eventually transferring to Company H of the Fourth Texas Cavalry, rising in the ranks to lieutenant, captain and then major under Gen. H. H. Sibley. Raguet was wounded in the battle of Valverde in the Mesilla Valley area of southern New Mexico. After a contentious and costly Confederate victory, Raguet continued with Sibley’s Confederate force to Glorieta where the next major battle occurred. The conflict, during which Raguet would be mortally wounded, led to the defeat of the Confederate forces in New Mexico. Raguet’s remains were taken to Santa Fe, about 30 miles to the west, where his brother Condy saw to his burial.
Henry, Sr.’s son James Condy and daughter Mary Helen would later perish in a steamboat fire on December 4, 1868. The steamboats America and United States collided at 11:30 PM at Ray’s Landing near Madison, Indiana. The United States was carrying petroleum in addition to passengers when the America hit the United States on the starboard side, in the forward part of the vessel. The United States quickly sank to about the main deck and both vessels caught fire immediately, which became more intense because of the petroleum. No lives were lost on the America but there were about 40 fatalities among the crew and passengers, including James Condy and Mary Helen Raguet, aboard the United States, which burned from stem to stern.
Both ships were wooden hull side packet side-wheel steamers and were owned by the U. S. Mail Line. They were traveling in opposite directions on the Ohio River. The cause of the collision was assumed to be a misunderstanding of the ships’ locations by one or both of the captains. The death toll was originally thought to be much higher, but a number of people survived who were originally thought to have been lost. The situation was further complicated by the loss of the ship’s passenger manifest on board the United States.
Daughter Augusta Amelia Raguet married dry goods merchant Leonard Thorn. Together they had a large family and lived most of their lives in New York. Daughter Anna Raguet was once the love interest of Sam Houston. Houston met her after becoming acquainted with Henry Raguet, Sr., as noted above. It has been written that Houston tried to obtain a divorce from his estranged first wife, Eliza Allen, to marry Anna in 1833, but divorce was not lawful in the days prior to the establishment of the Republic of Texas. Houston secured his divorce in 1837 after a Texas law was passed to legalize the practice, but Anna was not interested in marrying him. Anna later met Houston’s friend Robert Anderson Irion who asked her to marry him, once he was convinced that she had no further feelings for Houston. Anna accepted, the couple married and had a large family of five children.
In addition to his mercantile business, Henry Raguet, Sr. also served as postmaster of Nacogdoches. He eventually retired from his mercantile business and moved to Marshall, Texas where he lived for a number of years. He died and was buried in 1877 in Marshall. His wife Marcia Ann died in 1879 and is buried beside him.
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