Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 2, May, 1998 Page: 58
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
on November 19, 1837, the town was ten months old, and had 800 inhabitants, many
stores, and a number of doggeries. However, on December 5, 1837, twenty-six men met
to establish the Philosophical Society of Texas. According to the Houston Telegraph on
January 13, 1838, the society was to pursue subjects "important to the scientific enquirer
generally, and calculated to add so largely to the national character and national wealth
..." The society prepared a memorial to be presented to Congress asking for "a suitable
endowment and encouragement for the institution." The society wanted to attract "the
cordial cooperation of all the mental energy and literary acquirement of our infant repub-
lic." The sixth name on the charter was Angus McNeill, above the name of Augustus C.
Allen, one of his partners. Some others who were charter members were Mirabeau
Buonaparte Lamar, William Fairfax Gray, Sam Houston, David Gouverneur Burnet,
Littleton Fowler, Henry Smith, Ashbel Smith, Thomas Jefferson Rusk, John Austin
Wharton, and Anson Jones. In the book A History of the Philosophical Society of Texas,
1837-1987, only Angus McNeill is listed without some.identifying note. And while one
historian said after reading the list of names "Why those men were the Republic of Texas!"
additional notes in the book gives the place of origin for Angus McNeill as "unknown"
and his date of arrival in Texas as "unascertained." Even though the Philosophical Soci-
ety did not then become a thriving institution in Texas, it does show the visionary quality
of Angus McNeill, even if it served only as an opportunity to mix with the powerful and
make contact with the people who could be of use to him at some future date.29
Back in Shreveport on January 1, 1838, Angus found time to witness,
with James F. Pritchett and Bushrod Jenkins, the will of Samuel Price Carson, who was
the first secretary of state of the Republic of Texas. Angus was beginning to settle more of
his attention on Texas.30 One reason for looking to Texas occurred in Shreveport on June
20, 1837 when Angus McNeill killed a man named Mathew Gladden with a Bowie knife.3'
Nothing was done about the death of Gladden at the time, but McNeill's business affairs
were becoming complicated and his debts were increasing.
He was not without problems in Houston. In March 1838, an advertise-
ment in the Telegraph and Texas Register read: "Notice-All persons are hereby warned
from purchasing a note drawn by the undersigned, in favor of Angus McNeil, on the 12th
December '37 for the sum of $12,000, Government audited paper, or $7,000 in cash,
payable on the 1st of March following, as I am determined not to pay the same in conse-
29 Herbert Pickens Gambrell, A History of The Philosophical Society of Texas 1837-1987 (Austin:
The Philosophical Society of Texas, 1987), pp. 8-22.
30 Robert L. and Pauline H. Jones, "Samuel Price Carson," Texana, vol. 6, no. 3, 1968, pp. 259-
31 District Court Records of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, Criminal Cause File No. 19: State of Loui-
siana v. Angus McNeill.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 2, May, 1998, periodical, May 1998; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151403/m1/10/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.