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Historically Fort Bend:
Robert J.Calder


A photograph of the Calder House in Richmond, ca. 1895. It was located at 6th and Jackson where the Jane Long Annex is now.

A photograph of the Calder House in Richmond, ca. 1895. It was located at 6th and Jackson where the Jane Long Annex is now.

By Chris Godbold

Fort Bend County had its share of men who fought in the Texas Revolution. More veterans settled here at some point after the fighting was done. One of those was Robert J. Calder. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1810 to James H. and Jane Caldwell Calder. Robert’s father died while he was still young so his uncle James Caldwell became a father figure for him. Robert, his mother and uncle moved to Texas via Kentucky in 1832. They settled in Brazoria County.

Soon after, tensions rose between the Texians and the Mexican government and Robert found himself amid the fight. He arrived at Velasco after the battle and was named a Marshal of the Republic of Texas. Calder later fought the Mexican army at Gonzales, Mission Concepcion and at San Jacinto. In fact, he and a friend Benjamin C. Franklin were dispatched to take the news of the Texians’ victory over Santa Anna to President David Burnet, who was on Galveston Island at the time.

After the war, Calder settled again in Brazoria County and married Mary W. Douglas. He advanced to his first elected office in 1837 when he became sheriff of Brazoria County. He held other offices including Chief Justice from 1844 to 1846. By 1850, the Calder family was living on a farm on the San Bernard River in Fort Bend County. At this time Robert and Mary had five children: Robert, Jr., Jane Eliza, Zemula, Anna Maria, and Samuel. A son James followed a year later.

Robert didn’t stay out of public service for long. In 1859 he was Mayor of Richmond and in 1866 was County Judge of Fort Bend County. He also served as Justice of the Peace. At some point, probably by 1859, he and his family moved to Richmond. When not working in public office, Calder engaged in the mercantile business and practiced law with Major W. L. Davidson, who had married his daughter Jane. Calder’s son Robert enlisted in Terry’s Texas Rangers during the Civil War and died in battle. Anna Maria married J. C. Williams, and Samuel married Loretto Lamar, daughter of Mirabeau and Henrietta Lamar. They had four children: three daughters and one son. James married Sallie Weston and died before 1904.

A portrait of Robert Calder.

A portrait of Robert Calder.

Robert Calder died in 1885 and was buried with Masonic honors in Morton Cemetery. His wife Mary died seven years later and was buried next to him. In 1929, the state of Texas erected a monument for them at their graves.

Bibliography:

Handbook of Texas Online, Seymour V. Connor, “Calder, Robert James,” accessed July 28,2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fca09.

Sowell, A. J. History of Fort Bend County. Houston: W. H. Coyle & Co., 1904. Reprint, Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Co., 2014.

Wharton, Clarence R. History of Fort Bend County. San Antonio: The Naylor Co., 1939. Reprint, Austin: Eakin Press/Sunbelt Media Inc., 2001.

 

Historical facts and photos courtesy of the
Fort Bend County Museum Association, Richmond, TX

 

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