Pioneer Printer: Samuel Bangs in Mexico and Texas. By Lota M.
Spell. Austin (University of Texas Press), 1963. Pp. xii+-23o.
Illustrations, maps, notes, appendices, bibliography, index.
With admirable scholarship and patient searching, Lota M.
Spell has brought to light the amazing story of a youth from
Boston who became the first printer in 'Texas and the first in
three other provinces of Mexico under Spain. From documents
in scattered libraries in the United States, Mexico, and Spain,
the Austin author has pieced together the hitherto neglected ad-
ventures of Samuel Bangs, who succeeded better in making and
recording history than in finding a good living for himself and
the family he acquired.
In 1816, an impetuous young Spanish general, Francisco Xavier
de Mina, formed an expedition to help Mexico achieve independ-
ence. In command of a small British ship, he stopped at Norfolk
and Baltimore and, at the latter city, picked up some American
recruits. Among them was Bangs, who was assigned to operate a
portable press brought from England. When the party landed on
Galveston Island early in 1817, Bangs issued for Mina a mani-
festo that became the first printing in Texas.
In Mexico the Mina expedition failed; and Bangs was captured
by General Joaquin de Arredondo, who spared his life because
he needed a printer. Bangs did pioneer government printing in
several Mexican cities, both before and after the country became
independent of Spain. In 1823, he returned to the United States
and married, but in 1827 he went to Mexico again as a printer
and a salesman for printing equipment.
In 1837, after his wife had succumbed to yellow fever, Bangs
took his two young sons to the United States. The next year,
married again, he made a new start as a printer in Galveston. He
worked for a succession of newspapers, did job printing, and sold
equipment. Later he operated in Houston and in several towns
near the mouth of the Rio Grande. Financially ruined when a
ship carrying his press and household goods from Galveston to
Port Isabel was wrecked, he ran a small hotel in the latter town
for a time. In 185o, he went to Kentucky to work as a printer and
died there, of typhoid fever, in 1854.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, July 1964 - April, 1965. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101198/. Accessed April 18, 2014.