Mordello Stephen Munson

b. 25 April 1825, d. 13 October 1903
Mordello Stephen Munson|b. 25 Apr 1825\nd. 13 Oct 1903|p113.htm|Henry William Munson|b. 15 Jan 1793\nd. 6 Oct 1833|p2528.htm|Ann Binum Pearce|b. 17 Apr 1800\nd. 6 Sep 1865|p2532.htm|Jesse Munson||p2533.htm||||William Pearce|b. c 1754\nd. 6 Nov 1813|p2668.htm|Sarah Bray|d. 6 Jun 1801|p2669.htm|

Uncle of George Poindexter Munson Sr.
Great-granduncle of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Munson and Allied Families
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Mordello S. Munson
     Mordello Stephen Munson was born on 25 April 1825 in the Atascosito District, Coahuila and Texas, Republic of Mexico.1 He was the son of Henry William Munson and Ann Binum Pearce. He and Sarah Armour obtained a marriage license on 2 February 1850 in Brazoria County, Texas.2 They married on 6 February 1850 in Brazoria County.3 He died on 13 October 1903 at Ridgely Plantation, Bailey's Prairie, Brazoria County, Texas, at age 78.4 He was buried in Munson Cemetery, Bailey's Prairie, Brazoria County.5
     Mordello was the first Munson born in Texas, and family tradition is that he was the first white child born at the old Coushatta Indian village on the Trinity River. Williamson wrote that "early records suggest that this son may have been named Stephen Mordella Munson, probably to be known as Stephen." In the Pearce family, Stephen was a common name, and Mordella was the Spanish officer who had saved the life of Mordello's father at the Battle of Medina in 1813.1

Stephen B. Munson appeared on the famous Atascosito District Census of 31 July 1826 as the one year old son, born in Texas, of Henry W. Munson and Ann B. Pearce. The initial "B" is probably a careless error considering his brother who preceded him on the census was William B. Munson.6 In November 1828, three year old Mordello traveled with his family by barge to Gulf Prairie in Austin's Colony where his father had recently bought land from Stephen F. Austin. His parents named their new home Oakland, and to this day, none of the land has been sold.

     Mordello's father died in 1833, leaving a widow, Ann, with four small sons to raise, and a plantation to run. Two years later, Ann married James P. Caldwell who she had nursed back to health in 1832 after he was wounded in the Battle of Velasco. He and Henry William had been friends, and he helped Ann carry out her late husband's dying request: "Please educate my children."

     The three oldest Munson boys appear to have attended the first ten years of school together, and their educational expenses are listed in the final settlement of their father's estate in 1848. In 1833-34, they attended the Thomas I. Pilgrim school that Henry William and James F. Perry had arranged for before Henry's death in 1833. The school probably closed by 1835 when Pilgrim began teaching at Bell's Landing. In 1836-37, they attended school in Liverpool with Fayette Copeland. Mr. Copeland died in 1837, and they attended school with M. Newell in Velasco for part of the year. They were then sent away to school for three years, attending the school of Mr. and Mrs. James D. Rumsey in Hopkinsville, Kentucky between 1838 and 1841. In 1842 they attended Rutersville College seven miles northeast of La Grange, Fayette County and their names appear on the roll. Rutersville College was the first chartered Protestant college in Texas. The institution, which flourished between 1840 and 1856, was the dream of Martin Ruter, a Methodist missionary from Tennessee and superintendent of the Methodist mission in Texas in the early days of the Republic. When Mexican troops threatened Texas in 1842, Mordello joined Texian armed forces and participated later that year in the Somervell expedition to Mexico. He was not one of those who continued to Mexico on the Mier expedition, but returned to Rutersville College. The three brothers left there in 1843 and thereafter attended different Methodist sponsored colleges east of the Mississippi River. Mordello attended La Grange College at La Grange, Alabama, Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky, and the New Orleans Law School.7

     After they married, Mordello and Sarah first lived at Bailey's Prairie on the "Russell Place," which they named "Hard Castle." This was land that Mordello's older brother, William, bought from Mills in 1847. They built a new home nearby in about 1855 which they named "Ridgely." There they raised their eight children and the seven orphaned children of brothers Gerard and George.8

     Mordello was a stockman, farmer, and lawyer, and he gradually accumulated a large plantation on Bailey's Prairie. In The Munsons of Texas, Williamson wrote that after the last purchase of land on 16 February 1859, "Mordello owned all of the western quarter, and more, of the Cornelius Smith Survey -- a plantation of approximately 1,500 acres -- and he had paid a total of $7,900.00 in addition to William B. Munson's original trade."

     Mordello served in the Texas State Legislature from 1857 until 1861. He was a strong proponent of slavery and secession, and was a delegate elected from Brazoria County to the Secession Convention. His term as a legislator ended in the fall of 1861, and in January of 1862 he left his family and plantation and enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army at Galveston. He was discharged in April of that year and re-enlisted as a captain in Waul's Texas Legion in July. His army service took him through the early campaigns in Louisiana and Mississippi and finally to the decisive campaign at Vicksburg which ended on July 4, 1863. In the Confederate defeat at Vicksburg, Mordello was captured, released, and returned home, having signed a parole agreement that he would never again take up arms against the Union. In the spring of 1864, and again in 1865, he was back in the Confederate Army engaged in the late campaigns in Louisiana and Arkansas. He was in Louisiana with the Army when he got word of his brother Gerard's death. In a letter to Sarah, he wrote, "My Brother's murder shall be avenged if I live..." and " is my duty and should be my privilege to kill him." In the same letter he wrote, "...Gerard's children whilst I live shall be to me as my own."

     Mordello returned home to Ridgely Plantation on May 23, 1865. In 1866, he was elected as a member of the Eleventh Legislature, representing District 35, which included Brazoria and Galveston Counties, and in 1874, he replaced W.S. Moody who resigned as representative from District 12 for the Fourteenth Legislature. Mordello Munson was thus a four-time member of the Texas legislature. He was one of the legislators most instrumental in securing the passage of the law creating the University of Texas at Austin and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas at College Station.

Additional Data
Mordello S. Munson petitioned the Probate Court of Brazoria County, Texas, on 27 March 1848 to have the estates of Henry W. Munson and William B. Munson partitioned. Henry William died intestate in 1833, "possessed of considerable property and leaving a widow, Ann B., who has since intermarried with James P. Caldwell, and four children, viz. William B., George and Gerrard and your petitioner." Henry William's estate had never been divided. This action was probably prompted by the untimely death of William Benjamin only nine days earlier, who died "intestate and without issue, possessed of some property, real and personal..." The petition also asks to have guardians appointed to "defend the interests of said minors in this suit..." This included the two children of James and Ann B. Caldwell Henry B. Andrews was appointed guardian "as litera." He and Ann B. and James P. Caldwell replied to the petition, all joining "in the prayer for the partition of said estate," Ann stating that she was entitled to half of the community property.

On 21 September 1848, James F. Perry, Joseph M. McCormick and William J. Bryan met at the house of James P. Caldwell and proceeded to "appraise and partition the Estate of Henry W Munson and William B Munson between Ann B Caldwell and her children..." The estate was appraised at $26,825.00, including 9,699 acres of land as follows:

          554 acres at Oakland Plantation
          2,479 acres bought from William J. Bryan at $3.00 per acre
          2,222 acres on the Bernard in the Gray & Moore League
          4,444 acres on the Navidad.

The estate was divided into 64 shares for purposes of partition. Those receiving shares were Ann B. Caldwell (36), Mordella Munson (9), Gerrard Munson (9), George Munson (9), Robert and Mary Caldwell (1).9 Slaves belonging to the estate were not partitioned off until about 1850. Mordello's part in the division was four Negroes, Ralf, Laura, each valued at $1,000, Benjn. valued at $300, and Joe valued at $200 for a total value of $2,500.10

Between 20 June 1850 and 14 August 1854, Mordella Munson was Postmaster at Hinds, Brazoria County, Texas.11Click to view image

M.S. and Sarah K. Munson appeared on the 1 June 1850 Federal Census of Brazoria County, Texas, enumerated 24 October 1850.12 Click to view image

M.S. and Sarah K. Munson appeared on the 1 June 1860 Federal Census of Columbia, Brazoria County, Texas, enumerated 3 July 1860. Their children Henry W., Geo C., Emma and Doll were listed as living with them.13 Click to view image

Gerard B. Munson had made his will on 2 August 1861 in Brazoria County, Texas. Mordello S. and George P. Munson inherited the entire estate, except for specific bequests to the children, to be held in trust for the children. Profits from the estate were to be used for the education and support of the children, and to provide a good support for Gerard's widow so long as she remained unmarried. Mordello and George were named executors of the will and guardians of the minor children who were to share equally in the estate when they became of age or married with the consent of the executors. The entire estate was willed to Mordello and George in the event that none of the children became of age or married.14

Mordello and Sarah Munson appeared on the 1 June 1870 Federal Census of Brazoria, Brazoria County, Texas, enumerated 14 June 1870. Their children Henry, George, Emma, Sarah, Waddy, Armour, Bascom and Stephen were listed as living with them, as were Mordello's orphaned nieces Lizzie Munson and Mary Munson.15 Click to view image

M.S. and S.K. Munson appeared on the 1 June 1880 Federal Census of Brazoria County, Texas, enumerated 30 June 1880. Their children H.W., Emma, Sarah, J.W., H.A., W.B. and M.S. were listed as living with them, as were Mordello's orphaned nephew W.P. Munson, and nieces Mary Munson and Gerrard Munson.16 Click to view image

Mordella Munson appeared on the 1 June 1900 Federal Census of Brazoria County, Texas, in the household of Hillen A. and Lilla M. Munson, his son and daughter-in-law.17 Click to view image

Children of Mordello Stephen Munson and Sarah Kimbrough Armour


  1. [S20] Thurmond A. Williamson, The Munsons of Texas, an American Saga, First Edition manuscript (Dallas:, 1987), 92.
  2. [S2] Brazoria County Marriage Book A: 218, no. 174, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  3. [S20] Thurmond A. Williamson, Munsons of Texas, 189.
  4. [S20] Thurmond A. Williamson, Munsons of Texas, 225.
  5. [S17] Mordello S. Munson tombstone, Munson Family Cemetery, Bailey's Prairie, Texas; photographed by the writer on 31 July 1997.
  6. [S403] Henry W. Munson, 31 July 1826 population census, Atascosito District, Coahuila and Texas, Republic of Mexico, original document, Library of Congress Washington, D.C.
  7. [S20] Thurmond A. Williamson, Munsons of Texas, 134-137.
  8. [S704] "Mordello Stephen and Sarah K. Munson: Early Years at Bailey's Prairie," The Munsons of Texas - an American Saga, online. <
  9. [S408] Henry W. Munson and William B. Munson, Probate file no. ?, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  10. [S20] Thurmond A. Williamson, Munsons of Texas, 306.
  11. [S47] Postmasters and Post Offices of Brazoria County, Texas, 1846-1930, online <>.
  12. [S55] M.S. Munsin household, 1850 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, page 391, dwelling 178, family 178; National Archives micropublication M432, roll 908.
  13. [S54] M.S. Munson household, 1860 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, Columbia, page 20, dwelling 165, family 152; National Archives micropublication M653, roll 1289.
  14. [S426] Gerrard B. Munson will (1861), Brazoria County Will Book D: 227-229, County Clerk's Office, Angleton, Texas.
  15. [S53] Mordello Munson household, 1870 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, Brazoria, page 19/503-20, dwelling 139, family 139; National Archives micropublication M593, roll 1576.
  16. [S52] M.S. Munson household, 1880 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 8, enumeration district (ED) 22, sheet 27C/222, dwelling 274, family 274; National Archives micropublication T9, roll 1292.
  17. [S51] Hillen A. Munson household, 1900 U.S. Census, Brazoria County, Texas, population schedule, Precinct 1, enumeration district (ED) 1, sheet 16A/16, dwelling 323, family 323; National Archives micropublication T623, roll 1614.
  18. [S1224] Henry William Munson, death certificate 22309 (9 Jul 1924), Texas Department of Public Health, Austin.
  19. [S1226] George Caldwell Munson, death certificate 54756 (7 Jan 1932), Texas Department of Public Health, Austin.
  20. [S1225] Emma Munson Murray, death certificate 6576 (10 Apr 1936), Texas Department of Public Health, Austin.
  21. [S1169] Mrs. Sarah M. Kennedy, death certificate 16892 (13 August 1913), Texas Department of Public Health, Austin.
  22. [S1234] Walter Bascom Munson, death certificate 36879 (2 Sep 1949), Texas Department of Public Health, Austin.