Name: Sylvanus Castleman
Birth: ABT. 1776 in KY or VA
Death: JUN 1831 in Washington Co./Fayette Co?, TX 1
Burial: unmarked grave, Fayette Co., TX
"Sylvanus Castleman was in the War of 1812. He married Elizabeth Lucas. He traded a lot in Sainte Genevieve, Missouri to Stephen F. Austin to have his land surveyed in Texas. They were the sixth family of Stephen F. Austin's "Old Three Hundred". He was a close friend of Stephen F. Austin. Austin lodged in his home several times. In 1823, Austin and Baron De Bastrop lodged in his home in August. In December 1823, Sylvanus was appointed judge for the alcalde election. He took office on January 10, 1824. Sylvanus and Andrew were once captured by Indians and Andrew's wife begged for their lives as she did her small infant. She was granted her wish and they were all set free. Sometime before March 10, 1832, he became demented and committed suicide." Notes from Marjorie Woodham.
Sylvanus Castleman in Texas
Sylvanus Castleman with John Crownover, was in Texas as early as January 26,1821. Castleman had come from St. Genevieve, Missouri where he later returned for his family. He and Crownover were among the original Stephen F. Austin's first colony of three hundred.
Castleman traded a lot in St. Genevieve on March 1, 1822 to Stephen F. Austin for payment of debt for surveying his land in Texas.
Sylvanus first settled in the vicinity of Columbus on Cummings Creek. He was listed as an inhabitant of San Felipe de Austin from 1823-1827. Governor Don Felix Trepalacious in July 1823 wrote a letter to the colonist asking them to meet together at the home of Sylvanus Castleman on the lower Colorado August 9, 1823. The colonists were there to draw up laws of conduct that were to govern the colony. Castleman's must have been a central point in the colony for there are letters written by different officials and colonist that use the address "Castleman's on the Colorado".
Historical accounts of Sylvanus Castleman and his sons show that they were troubled by Indians and held no respect for them. When Castleman learned that the Indians scalped their victims, he was reputed to have said, "it was a poor rule that did not work both ways," and after that he scalped every Indian he killed.
Castleman received title to two sitios of land in present Wharton County, on half sitio in present Fayette County, and two labors in present Austin County on July 7, 1824. The reason Sylvanus was treated so generously is not known, but his large family may have been a deciding factor.
On March 4, 1823, Austin made a list of American settlers on the Colorado district of all the residents. Among the settlers were Sylvanus Castleman. His is listed as being 46 years old, a farmer with cattle and hogs. Listed as his family members are:
Elizabeth Castleman 37, Nancy Castleman 19, Andrew Castleman 18,
Sarah Castleman 17, Elizabeth Castleman 13, Lavina Castleman 11,
Benjamin Castleman 7, and Jacob Castleman 2.
They also had two "domisticks"-Guy 18, and Beck aged 5.
On April 12, 1824, Sylvanus Castleman hired a Negro slave named John, from Stephen F. Austin and agreed to pay for his services with 25 bushels of corn "to be delivered next fall".
Records show that Sylvanus Castleman was a rancher, Indian fighter, and surveyor but also a political figure. On December 3, 1823, Stephen F. Austin appointed Sylvanus judge for the election held in the colony for alcalde. Castleman was elected for the position with twelve of seventeen votes, and on January 26, 1824 he took office.
In an account written by Mary Crownover Rabb, she states that "Mr. Casleman lived six or seven miles above LaGrange at a place called Indian Hill." Mrs. Rabb, along with her husband, John, had gone to visit the Castleman's about December 15, 1823.
Our next account of Sylvanus Castleman is included in the census of March 1826. It listed Mr. Castleman as a farmer and stock raiser between the age of forty and fifty. His household consisted of his wife, four sons, two daughters, one servant, and one slave.
In August of 1828, Andrew Castleman and his father, Sylvanus, were taken captive by Indians, the Castleman's had been working when the Indians came upon them by surprise. The Indians led them into the Colorado River bottom where they joined another group. This party of Indians was passing around among themselves, three week old Milly Castleman. Milly was the daughter of Andrew and granddaughter of Sylvanus. Nancy Kincholoe Castleman, Milly's mother, had been frightened from her home by the Indians. She had then fled to the river bottom, seeking safety. Through much begging from Nancy and using a boy who lived with Castleman's as an interpreter, the Indians released Sylvanus and Andrew and gave Milly back to her mother.
Between 1831-1833 the Colorado River overflowed its banks and flooded the bottomlands. John Rabb and Mary Crownover Rabb, the sister of two of Sylvanus' sons-in-law, John Chesney Crownover and Arter Crownover, were among the settlers whose homes were flooded. After evacuating his wife and children, Mr. Rabb pulled all of their belongings into a cedar tree and left to check on the welfare of his brother, Andrew. A man named Batiste in the search assisted John Rabb. During the search Batiste suffered from leg cramps and was forced to seek safety in a tree while John Rabb continued on to his brothers house. Mr. Rabb was himself stranded, but on the roof of Andrew's house. The next morning Sylvanus Castleman took his boat to Andrew Rabb's house and rescued John Rabb and then rescued Batiste from the tree.
The exact date and burial place of Sylvanus Castleman has yet to be discovered. From an abstract of title of lands granted to Sylvanus Castleman by the Mexican government in Wharton County, we find where Elizabeth Castleman in June of 1837 completed a contract of sale of 1000 acres to Horatio Chriesman that Sylvanus had started before his death. It also states that Sylvanus Castleman died in Washington County. Fayette County was created out of parts of Washington and Bastrop counties in 1837. LaGrange is in what was Washington County.
1840 probate court records of Austin County show that Elizabeth Castleman appeared before John H. Money, judge of the Probate Court of Austin County. She states that Sylvanus Castleman died in 1831. Elizabeth was appointed adminisratrix.
At the July term of court in 1841, in Fayette County, Sylvanus' estate was partitioned between his wife, children, and grandchildren. Elizabeth Castleman, widow of Sylvanus, received 800 acres of land located 5 miles northwest of the own of LaGrange. His estate was then partitioned out where each of his children received 250 acres of land. The children of his son, Andrew, who was killed at the Battle of Velasco, received 250 acres to be divided among themselves. Sylvanus' son, John, was at that time still a minor. There was never any mention of the son Benjamin after the listing on March 4, 1823.
In the papers of Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar there is an account written to Lamar from Andrew Rabb, who was elected to Congress from Fayette County in 1838 and 1853, that states:
He obtained the first head right in Austin's colony-it was
located on the west side of the Colorado, near LaGrange,
on the west side. He moved on the Brazos, above
Sanfellipe 10 or 12 miles west side, and becoming deranged
committed suicide. He was esteemed one of the best
Winkler, E. W.
Manuscript Letters and Documents of Early Texians 1821-1845
Handbook of Texas-Vol. I
Weyand, Leonie Rummer and Houston Wade
History of Fayette County
Papers Concerning Robertson's Colony in Texas-Vol. IV
Hayes, Charles W.
Galveston-History of the Island and the City-Vol. I
Barker, Eugene C.
The Father of Texas
Sinks, Julia Lee
Chronicles of Fayette
Probate Court Records-Austin County
Rabb, Mary Crownover
Travels and Adventures in Texas in the 1820's
Census Records Republic of Texas
Taylor, Virginia H.
The Spanish Archives of the General Land Office of Texas
Marriage By Bond in Colonial Texas
Ray, Worth S.
Austin colony Pioneers
History of Texas
Wharton, Clarence R.
History of Ft. Bend County
Boddie, Mary Delaney
Thunder on the Brazos
The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar-Vol. IV Part I, Page 215-217
The Lavaca County Tribune-July 1956
"During this summer Capt. C. was without a shirt, and wore a buckskin hunting shirt instead.— Towards autumn he learned that Col. Groce had some goods. He therefore visited the Col. to replenish his wardrobe. He bought a few yards of coarse, brown Hollands—“Of this linen” says the captain “Mrs. Byrd made me two shirts, the best I ever wore, as they lasted nearly three years.” In the fall of 1823 Col. Austin wrote to Chriesman from the Colorado to employ him as a surveyor. He accepted the appointment and followed the business for several years. About the same time Seth Ingram and Selkirk were also appointed surveyors. The first survey made by Capt Chriesman in the Colony was a league of land 87 for Josiah H. Bell on the west side of the Brazos a few miles below the Labahia road. This work was done on the tenth day of October 1823. Ingram's first survey was made for Sylvanus Castleman on the west side of the Colorado above LaGrange. After making a few more surveys above and below the Labahia road, Capt. Chriesman went lower down the Brazos to work."
Kuykendall, J. H., "REMINISCENCES OF EARLY TEXANS. A COLLECTION FROM THE AUSTIN PAPERS ", Volume 006, Number 3, Southwestern Historical Quarterly Online, Page 236 - 253. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/publications/journals/shq/online/v006/n3/articl e_4.html
[Accessed Tue Mar 11 21:08:59 CDT 2008]
In May 1958 Joe Cole reported: "One grave at Manton Spring. Supposed to be one of the Castleman's. The grave is lost. Buried about 1830. About 5.5 miles west of La Grange on the old Plum gravel road. (Willie Snider. May 1958) / in gravel pit - J. Cole." This is very possibly Sylvanus Castleman's gravesite.
Father: Jacob Castleman (II) b: 1756 in VA ?
Mother: Eva (Eve) Liston b: BET. 1750 - 1760 in New Castle Co., DE
Elizabeth "Betsy" Lucas b: ABT. 1780 in TN
19 AUG 1803
in Davidson Co., TN
- Nancy Castleman b: ABT. 1804 in Davidson Co., TN
- Andrew Castleman b: ABT. 1805 in TN
- Sarah Castleman b: ABT. 1806 in TN
- Elizabeth Castleman b: ABT. 1810 in Tn
- Lavinia Castleman b: 23 APR 1813
- Benjamin Castleman b: ABT. 1816
- Jacob Castleman b: ABT. 1821 in Missouri
- John Castleman b: ABT. 1823 in Fayette Co., TX
- Title: Official Record
Media: Official Document
Note: Official Record. The Petition of Elizabeth Lucas Castleman dated June 27, 1831