The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962 Page: 322
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
pletely the mystery concerning Independence Hall. The docu-
ment, marked, "No. 96, Box 6, B," and dated December 20o, 1849,
was recently located in the Memorials and Petitions File of the
Secretary of State for 1849 at the Archives of the Texas State
library. It is a petition from N. T. Byars to the legislature for
payment of his claim for rent on "a House," for the use of the
Convention in 1836.46
The Byars petition, however, makes no reference to an accom-
panying photograph and nothing else has been found in this file
to indicate that such a photograph was submitted.
The photograph, which appears to be heavily retouched and
is blurred in reproduction, was republished in 1935 in a Texas
history text,4" identified only as the "Old Capitol at Washington."
A biography of Francis Dieterich,47 published in 1958, carries
a clear, apparently unretouched photograph of the same build-
ing, which is identified as coming from Ellison Photo Company,
Austin. The author, Dora D. Bonham, has stated that she has no
authentication of the identification of this portrait beyond the
information in Ellison files.48 Ellison Photo Company9 has an
album of old prints, in which a copy of this clear photograph
appears, identified as "N. T. Byars' blacksmith shop, in which the
Texas Declaration of Independence was signed." The Ellison
shop also has two excellent negatives of this picture, enlargements
from a small picture originally acquired from an unknown source.
Alfred Ellison, owner of the shop, says he does not know when,
or from whom, the original photograph was secured.
If this photograph is authentic, and the description given in
memoirs now available are even reasonably accurate, the building
must have been remodeled between the time it was seen by the
writers of the memoirs and the time at which the photograph
was taken. Quite obviousiy, neither of the narrow gabled ends
45No. 96, Box 6, B, December so, 1849, Memorials and Petitions, 1849 (Secretary
of State File, Archives, Texas State Library).
4eHerbert P. Gambrell and L. W. Newton, Social and Political History of Texas
(Dallas, 1935), opposite 351. This same photograph was published in the Mueller
Record, January-February, 1948.
47Bonham, Merchant to the Republic. Here it is identified as "Independence Hall,
as viewed in 1893, Washington, Texas."
48Dora D. Bonham to R. H. S., signed statement, July 6, 1961.
49615 Congress Avenue, Austin.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962, periodical, 1962; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/m1/368/: accessed April 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.