This film from the Orris D. Brown Collection documents notable locations, battles, and citizens that tell the story of early Texas at the time of its centennial in 1936. Intertittled to introduce each place and its significance, footage is included of statues of La Salle and Sam Houston, the Spanish Governor's Palace and the Alamo in San Antonio, the Battle of Gonzales battlefield, the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence in Washington-on-the-Brazos, Sam Houston's homes in Independence, Texas and Huntsville, Texas, and the graves of the Houston family. Most notably, footage of Sam Houston's slave and personal servant, Uncle Jeff Hamilton, is also included. The digital preservation of this film was made possible by a grant to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and the Houston Public Library from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Jeff Hamilton, known as Uncle Jeff, was purchased by Sam Houston as a child. He was a playmate of Houston's own children, a personal body guard and driver for Houston, and Office Boy when Houston was elected governor. He took lessons in reading, writing, arithmetic, religion, and responsibility from the family. Hamilton was with Governor Houston when he refused to join the Confederacy and stayed on with him as a personal servant after the abolition of slavery. After Houston's death, Uncle Jeff moved with Mrs. Margaret Houston to Independence, staying with her until she died, then as an employee of Baylor College, moved with the female college to Belton, Texas where he lived until his death. Late in life, Hamilton was honored throughout the United States for his association with the nation's leading men, and he spoke publicly about his life on many occasions. Two Texas historical markers, at his grave and on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus, honor Uncle Jeff Hamilton still today.
Orris Dorr Brown was born in 1890 in Henderson, Texas. He married Edna Myra Webb in 1923, and together they traveled domestically and abroad teaching cake decorating techniques using edible sugar. Brown became interested in filmmaking in the early 1930s and began filming scenery and sites as he traveled. Texas became the focus of many of his films, and he traveled extensively throughout the state to document historical figures and locations, most notably scenes of Uncle Jeff Hamilton, Sam Houston's personal slave. In 1936, Brown filed for a U.S. patent for a Moving Picture Machine through which to view films. He moved into professional filmmaking as an employee of Empire and Superior Studios in the 1940s and 50s to film full-length pictures. Orris D. Brown was a Shriner and a Free Mason. He passed away in 1965.
The digital preservation of this collection was made possible by a grant to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and the Houston Public Library from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.