The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979

Notes and Documents
"I Am Already Quite a Texan":
Albert J. Myer's Letters from Texas, 1854-1856
Edited by DAVID A. CLARY*
A LBERT JAMES MYER, BEST KNOWN AS THE FATHER OF THE UNITED
States Army Signal Corps and of the United States Weather Serv-
ice, began his military career in Texas in the 185os. Although his so-
journ there lasted only two and one-half years, 1854-1857, it was filled
with interesting adventures. Moreover, Myer1 was blessed with a knack
for detailed and witty observation that make his letters to his prospec-
tive brother-in-law a remarkable and entertaining portrait of the Texas
frontier of the fifties. Myer's account of life in Texas makes a valuable
companion to such better-known commentaries as that of Frederick Law
Olmsted.2
That his Texas service was an adventure for Myer is reflected in the
letters reproduced here, from the originals in the Myer Papers at the
Library of Congress. Myer wrote them to James Walden of Hamburg,
New York, the brother of his betrothed, Catherine Walden, whom he
married on August 24, 1857. Undoubtedly, Myer wrote them to im-
*David A. Clary is the chief historian of the United States Forest Service, Washington,
D.C., and has published a number of works on history and historic preservation. The au-
thor wishes to thank Paul J. Scheips for his counsel and encouragement in this project;
Nicholas J. Bleser, formerly at Fort Davis National Historic Site (now at Tumacacori Na-
tional Monument, Arizona), for letting him borrow and copy some of the Myer Collection
a few years ago, and for various services rendered; William C. Tweed for helping in the
photocopying of the letters; and Russell Smith of the Manuscript Division of the Library
of Congress for his help.
1The most comprehensive biography of Myer is Paul J. Scheips, "Albert James Myer,
Founder of the Army Signal Corps: A Biographical Study" (Ph.D. dissertation, The Amer-
ican University, 1966). Scheips provides an excellent account of Myer's Civil War career in
"Union Signal Communications: Innovations and Conflict," Civil War History, IX (Dec.,
1963), 399-421. See also Martin L. Crimmins, "General Albert J. Myer: The Father of the
Signal Corps," West Texas Historical Association Year Book, XXIX (Oct., 1953), 47-66; and
J. Willard Brown, The Signal Corps, U.S.A., in the War of the Rebellion (Boston, 1896).
2Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey through Texas; Or, A Saddle-Trip on the South-
western Frontier; with a Statistical Appendix (New York, 1857); see particularly chapter V,
"A Trip over the Frontier," 273-355.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/. Accessed October 20, 2014.