Samuel May Williams


Died aged c. 63

Samuel May Williams (October 4, 1795 – September 13, 1858) was an American businessman, politician, and close associate of Stephen F. Austin, who was an Anglo-American colonizer of Mexican Texas. As a teenager, Williams started working in the family's mercantile business in Baltimore. He spent time in South America and New Orleans, fleeing the latter because of debts. He landed in Mexican Texas in 1822, having learned French and Spanish. Stephen F. Austin hired Williams for his colony in 1824. Williams first worked as a clerk, and later assumed the title of secretary to the ayuntamiento, a local government established for the colony by the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas. He worked for Austin for about a decade. In 1834, Williams quit as secretary of the Austin Colony to work as a merchant, then formalized a partnership with Thomas F. McKinney. The next year he also made deals with the provincial government in Monclova for a bank charter and for large tracts of land in Texas. At that time he was a representative in the Coahuila and Texas legislature. However, by 1836, Williams and his partner, Thomas F. McKinney, supported the Texas Revolution against Mexico. Williams borrowed money against his family's lines of credit, which the partners applied to ships and ammunition on behalf of the rebel government. After Texas gained independence, Williams focused most of his business activities in Galveston, and represented Galveston County for one term in the Republic of Texas legislature. Through his partnership with McKinney he was invested in the Galveston City Company, and established diverse business interests there. The partnership ended when their business was acquired by Henry Howell Williams in 1842. After 1842, Williams worked toward establishing a bank in Texas. He briefly returned to public service when he accepted a diplomatic mission to negotiate a treaty with Mexico, which had still not recognized the sovereignty of the Republic of Texas. In the first year of Texas statehood, he ran twice for the U.S. House of Representatives, losing both times. In 1848 Williams succeeded in introducing the first bank in Texas: the Commercial & Agricultural Bank (C & A Bank). This was the only institution to legally issue paper money, though his charter and the bank's practices faced legal challenges throughout its existence, including anti-banking legislation and scrutiny from various Texas Attorneys General. Favorable decisions rendered by the district courts saved Williams and his bank for about four years. C & A Bank remained solvent during the Panic of 1857, but anti-banking politics were on the rise. Many of Williams' friends and allies distanced themselves from the bank and encouraged him to give up the project, but he resisted their advice. He died in 1858 after a short illness.

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Commemorated on 5 plaques

Texas Historical Marker #07441

First Hutchings-Sealy National Bank. Successor of Texas' oldest bank and its first national bank. Founded in 1835 when Mexico granted a banking charter to the merchants Thomas F. McKinney and Samuel May Williams -- a firm wealthy enough in 1836 to finance the Texas War for Independence to a large extent. Later McKinney, Williams & Company moved from Quintana to Galveston, where in 1841 the Texas Republic authorized them to issue bank notes for circulation as money. When re-established in 1847 as "Commercial & Agricultural Bank," this became first chartered bank in the state. At its closing, 1859, Ball-Hutchings & Company assumed many of its activities. This company was established by two young men, John H. Hutchings and John Sealy, under the name of Hutchings, Sealy & Company at Sabine Pass in 1847 as a merchandise business. These men moved to Galveston in 1854 and joined with George Ball to form Ball-Hutchings & Company. In 1897 the firm changed its name to Hutchings, Sealy & Company, and in 1930 it merged with Henry Rosenberg's South Texas National Bank. In 1958 the Hutchings-Sealy National Bank merged with the First National Bank of Galveston, the latter being the first Texas bank chartered under the National Bank Act of 1865. #7441

?, Galveston, TX, United States where they was

Texas Historical Marker #07456

Galveston Chamber of Commerce. One of the oldest Chambers of Commerce in Texas. Informally organized, spring 1838, during Republic of Texas, by a small group of Galveston's original civic leaders. Formally chartered February 3, 1845. Among founders were men who had, or soon would have, statewide fame: John K. Allen (founder of Houston), Gail Borden (dairy king), Michel B. Menard (a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence), Samuel May Williams (colonizing contractor), and Thomas F. McKinney (versatile businessman). These men assisted city in establishing a local government and helped Galveston City Co. sell lots for homes and businesses. They aided in organizing Galveston County and instituting mail connections with nearby Brazoria and Harris counties. Waterborne commerce -- basis of island's economy -- was promoted by the group, which also aided growth and prosperity by encouraging settlers to work and reside here. Over the years this voluntary organization of business leaders has played a role in development of the port, the University of Texas Medical branch, tourist industry, causeways, Maritime Academy, and Galveston Community College, as well as fostering the advance of the city's industry and commerce. #7456

2106 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, TX, United States where they was

Texas Historical Marker #11594

Samuel May Williams. Born the son of a ship captain in Rhode Island, Samuel Williams was apprenticed to his uncle in Baltimore after 1810 to learn business skills. After 1816 he lived in Buenos Aires, where he learned Spanish and its related culture. By 1819 he was working in New Orleans, where he might have met empresario Stephen F. Austin. Williams came to Austin's Texas colony in 1823, and became the empresario's translator and clerk. For his services and immigrant status, Williams received 11 leagues (48, 712 acres) of land. He married Sarah P. Scott in 1828; They had nine children. Williams and Thomas F. McKinney founded a mercantile firm in 1833 in Quintana at the mouth of the Brazos River. Williams had traveled to the United States in 1835 to sell bank stock when he learned of fighting in Texas. Using the partnership's credit, he made purchases for the Texas army. Williams and McKinney incurred expenses of $99,000 supporting the Texas revolution. By 1838 Williams was helping the Texas navy build seven ships. His firm had moved to Galveston, where the partners promoted development of the city with Michel Branamour Menard. Williams opened a bank in Galveston in 1848, and lived in this home until his death. He is buried in Galveston's Episcopal Cemetery. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986 #11594

3601 Ave P, Galveston, TX, United States where they was

Texas Historical Marker #11595

Samuel May Williams. -- #11595

?, Galveston, TX, United States where they was

Texas Historical Marker #11596

Williams-Tucker House, 1837-40. Built by Samuel May Williams, a founder of Galveston, secretary to Stephen F. Austin, postmaster and land agent of Austin colony. Organized first Texas bank, was father of Texas navy and shipping industry. As envoy to the U. S., failed to get loan for Texas War for Independence, but gave $150,000 of his own money (a tenth of the cost). House, framed in Maine, was shipped to Texas on a schooner. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1964 #11596

3601 Ave. P, Galveston, TX, United States where they was