James P. Douglas, Founder


1877-1880

James P. Douglas James Postell Douglas was born in Lancaster District, South Carolina, January 7, 1836. When he was a small child the family moved to Talledge, Alabama, and when he was twelve, to Tyler, Texas. His father was a Methodist minister, and his mother of French Huguenot descent. He was named after a scholar and teacher in Lancaster, a James Postell. His grandfather, Alexander Douglas, of Lanarkshire, Scotland, came to Boston to join the army of Washington. He stayed at Valley Forge, where his feet were frozen, making him a cripple for life. After 1778 he went south to the Carolinas and rejoined the army to fight in the battle of Cowpens.

The Douglas family had bought land located near "the forks of the Trinity," and also around Tyler and Rusk. James, at the age of fourteen, had a mail contract with the government between Shreveport, Louisiana, and San Augustine, Texas, by way of Tyler. He rode horseback and made the round trip once each week. At night he studied law and was eventually admitted to the bar shortly before the beginning of the Civil War. When war was declared, he was commissioned by the Confcdernte States of Americn to raise fifty men in Tyler and fifty men in Dallas. This command became the First Texas Battery. Douglas received the rank of Lieutenant, but after the battle of Elkhorn, he became the Captain. Throughout the war this battery served brilliantly, first with Bragg in Kentucky, then at Murfreesboro, under Johnston at Chickamauea and through the hundred days in Atlanta. Douglas received the rank of Major after these campaigns, and was often in command of J. E. Johnson's artillery. At the close of the war Douglas returned to Tyler, where he entered politics and was elected, to the Twelfth Legislature of Texas as a senator. One of his most intimate friends was Governor Richard B. Hubbard, after whom he named the first locomolive of the Tyler Tap. He participated in the expulsion of the Davis regime, but cut short his political career to engage in the peach industry of East Texas. Being an ardent horticulturist, he established a chain of canning factories, locating them in Tyler, Henderson, and Lindale.

Douglas entered the newspaper business by editing and owning the Tyler Democrat-Reporter during the secession period and through the war. In 1868 he married Miss Sallie White, by whom there were four children. After her death he married Miss Alice Smith and they had three children. He is remembered as an outstanding citizen of East Texas in the years following the Civil War.



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