Samuel Augustus Maverick was born in the summer of 1803 in South Carolina to Samuel and Elizabeth Anderson Maverick. His father operated an import business. Young Samuel worked in the family business, graduating from Yale University in 1825. He left the family business and moved to Virginia in 1828 to study law. For a while he practiced law and in 1833 he moved to Georgia for a year before relocating to Alabama to operate a plantation that had been given to him by his father.
The following year, he sailed to Velasco, and began speculating in the purchase and sale of land in and around Austin’s Colony as the settlers were preparing for war. Maverick had moved to San Antonio by the time of the beginning of the Siege of Bexar and there is a diary of the Seige that is attributed to him. He and several others were evenually allowed to leave by Mexican General Cos. Maverick and others sought out the Texian Army and Maverick returned as part of Ben Milam’s division to participate in the battle. They were successful in taking San Antonio and Maverick remained in the area, residing at the Alamo, until he was chosen to attend a convention in early March, 1836 to draw up a Declaration of Independence from Mexico.
As a representative of the Alamo garrison, Maverick attended the convention in Washington-on-the-Brazos and was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. A printed copy of the document omits his name, but the hand written original document includes it. During the few days of the convention, the Alamo fell in the historic battle with Mexican General Santa Anna. Maverick is believed to have remained in Texas until shortly before the Battle of San Jacinto. Around that time, he returned to Alabama to sell his property there and remained in Alabama for a few months. While there, he met and married Mary Ann Adams. He brought his new wife to meet his father in South Carolina and his father offered him the family plantation in that state. However, instead of accepting the gift, Maverick, his wife and several slaves set out ot return to Texas, arriving there in early 1838.
For the next few years, he bought and sold land, generally making his home in San Antonio. He and other settlers there dealt with Comanche raids, and Maverick continued to trade in land. He rejoined the Texas Army in 1842 after Santa Anna sent more troops to the area in an attempt to retake it. The Mexican forces succeeded in seizing control of San Antonio later that year under Mexican General Woll. Maverick and several dozen others were captured and forced to begin marching to Mexico, finally reaching the San Carlos Fortress in Perote, Veracruz. He remained confined in Mexico until the spring of 1843.
Maverick served as mayor of San Antonio in 1839 and later was elected to the Texas Congress of the Republic. Following Texas’ admission to the United States, he served again in the Texas Legislature from 1851-1863. He supported Sam Houston in the effort to avoid Texas’ succession from the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War, though he evenually voted in favor of succession at the Succession Convention. During the war, he served as Chief Justice of Bexar County and served again as mayor of San Antonio.
He is often referred to as a cattleman and his name has become associated with the cattle business, although he was apparently not actively involved in the business on any considerable scale although he owned several hundred thousand acres of land at various times. However, he is said to have declined (or refused) to brand his herd. Another legend stated that he gave instructions to a slave to grand the herd, but the slave failed to do it. Nevertheless, the name “maverick” has come to refer to unbranded cattle. Maverick has also been added to the vernacular to refer to a person of independent thought and action.
Maverick died in 1870 and is interred in San Antonio in old San Antonio Cemetery #1. Maverick County, on the Rio Grande, is named for him. It was carved out of Kinney County in 1856 and formally organized in 1871. Maverick, Texas in Runnels County is also named for him. In 1965, it was proposed to place a statue of Maverick on Alamo Plaza. Nothing has yet come of that, but later that year a Texas Historical Marker was placed on a building at Houston and Alamo streets approximately on the location of one of his San Antonio residences.
His wife, Mary Maverick, is noted for having done one of the earliest images of the Alamo following the historic battle, a watercolor believed to have been painted by her in 1838, shown below:
(Image credit: Texas A&M University)
Mary Maverick’s watercolor figures in an interesting sidelight regarding the venerable structure. The niches on the upper and lower levels of the facade appear to show statuary that is no longer there. It is not known for certain what happened to them, or exactly when they may have disappeared, but they were all apparently gone by around 1841.
Mary Maverick survived Samuel Maverick by about 28 years. She died in 1898 and is also buried in the old San Antonio Cemetery #1.
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