The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962 Page: 33
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D. A. Orviss: Texas Merchant
Orviss, the founder of a general mercantile store which supplied
the residents of Central Texas with their necessities and luxuries.
In 1859 Orviss invested money in the D. A. Orviss and Com-
pany, a general mercantile store in Jefferson, Texas, which he
leased to W. C. Gillean in return for one-half of the profits.
Orviss was the captain of the Steamer Texas, a steamboat oper-
ating on the Mississippi and Red Rivers and allowed his lessee
to have complete control over the firm. Without the knowledge
or consent of Orviss, who was absent from Jefferson from 1863
to 1865 "being out in the service," Gillean used Company funds
to purchase a dry goods concern in Houston. After the Civil War,
Orviss was offered a position in a New Orleans firm but was
required to make a capital investment. Returning to Jefferson
with the intention of selling the D. A. Orviss and Company store
to raise the necessary money, the owner learned that Gillean had
used the Company's resources in the Houston venture. Orviss was
forced to give up the New Orleans business prospect, and hoped
to obtain one-half of his capital in six months and the remainder
a year later. The store in Houston was not successful and closed
in 1865. By a mutual agreement of both parties, Orviss acquired
the ruined business but he had already lost $40,000.2 Orviss and
his wife, Louisa, returned to their native Illinois for a short visit
after this unfortunate affair was settled, but decided to return to
Texas and establish a store in the interior on the Houston and
Texas Central Railroad.3
Texas became a symbol of opportunity and economic advance-
ment in the Post Civil War period, as productive and inexpensive
land together with an advancing railroad, which would take
agricultural commodities to market, helped to increase the bright
visions of men who immigrated to the new land. Some found
windfalls, others found hardships, but all who came shared in
the thrill of being a part of a new and big country that was being
won to the plow and to civilization.
1D. A. Orviss to Captain F. M. Martin, February 1, 1869 (D. A. Orviss Letters,
Archives, University of Texas Library).
2D. A. Orviss to W. C. Gillean, January 25, 1870; Certificate of W. C. Gillean of
New Orleans, former partner of D. A. Orviss and Company of Jefferson, Texas,
3D. A. Orviss to John L. Croom, Matagorda, July 18, 1874, ibid.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962, periodical, 1962; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/m1/47/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.