While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Mary M. Standifer

ATTWELL, JAMES (ca. 1815–?). James Attwell (Atwell), printer, newspaper publisher, and editor, was born in New York and apparently moved to Texas soon after the Texas Revolution. He was publisher and printer of the Matagorda Colorado Gazette and Advertiser, the first issue of which appeared on May 16, 1839, with W. Donaldson as editor. By December 25, 1839, Attwell had sold the paper to William Douglas Wallach, but he continued to work on the Gazette as a printer. Whenever Wallach was away, Attwell served as his "authorized Agent" and had "entire control" of the paper. The Gazette apparently ceased publication in 1843. Attwell later became editor and proprietor of the Matagorda Weekly Despatch (1843–46). He was apparently assisted in the editorial work by Richard Drake Sebring, who died in August 1844. By 1850 Attwell had moved to Lavaca (now Port Lavaca). In early 1854 he published the first number of the Lavaca Register with Edward B. Mantor as editor. The Register continued to be published for about a year. In 1857 Attwell bought the Lavaca Herald (1855–59) from James C. Rowan and became publisher and editor. He issued the paper until late 1859, when it was bought out and became the Gulf Key. Attwell likely worked as a printer on other papers in Matagorda and Lavaca during the 1840s and 1850s. In 1844 in Matagorda he printed a four-page prospectus for James Wilmer Dallam's Digest of the Laws of Texas. On March 27, 1841, Attwell was elected justice of the peace for beat two in Matagorda County, and in 1847 he was listed as a contributor to a library fund in Matagorda. In the 1860 census for Lavaca, Attwell claimed $500 each in real and personal property.

Compiled Index to Elected and Appointed Officials of the Republic of Texas, 1835–1846 (Austin: State Archives, Texas State Library, 1981). Joe B. Frantz, Newspapers of the Republic of Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., Houston: Armstrong, 1986). Marilyn M. Sibley, Lone Stars and State Gazettes: Texas Newspapers before the Civil War (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1983). Thomas W. Streeter, Bibliography of Texas, 1795–1845 (5 vols., Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1955–60).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Mary M. Standifer, "ATTWELL, JAMES," accessed July 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fat04.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...