Maverick’s most lasting legacy is the application of his name as a term for unbranded cattle, which was inspired by his unbranded herd on Matagorda Peninsula. Legend has it that he refused to brand his calves because he thought that allowed him to claim all unbranded calves on the range.
Lawyer, land speculator. Maverick was born in Pendleton District (now Oconee County) on July 23, 1803, the son of the Charleston businessman Samuel Maverick and Elizabeth Anderson. After graduating from Yale University in 1825, Maverick studied law with the Virginia jurist Henry St. George Tucker and opened a law office in Pendleton. He moved to Georgia in 1833 and then to Alabama, overseeing family lands. Bored with plantation life and unsuited to overseeing slaves, Maverick moved to Texas in pursuit of cheap land, inspired both by his grandfather’s success as a land speculator and by his father’s entrepreneurial ethic. Arriving in 1835 at the height of the Texas revolution, Maverick joined the Texan forces, but he quickly returned on family business to Alabama, where he married Mary Ann Adams on August 4, 1836. The next year the couple took their firstborn, Samuel Maverick, Jr., and several slaves to Texas, settling in San Antonio. Maverick took a law license and began purchasing land in western Texas, relocating several times but returning to San Antonio for good in 1847.
Maverick’s most lasting legacy is the application of his name as a term for unbranded cattle, which was inspired by his unbranded herd on Matagorda Peninsula. Legend has it that he refused to brand his calves because he thought that allowed him to claim all unbranded calves on the range. In reality Maverick was an indifferent cattleman who simply did not bother to brand his small herd and was out of the cattle business entirely by the mid-1850s. He also lent his name to Maverick County in western Texas, where he held more than 300,000 acres at his death. Maverick died on September 2, 1870, and was buried in San Antonio’s City Cemetery Number One.
Green, Rena Maverick, ed. Samuel Maverick, Texan: A Collection of Letters, Journals, and Memoirs. San Antonio, Tex.: Privately printed, 1952.
Marks, Paula Mitchell. Turn Your Eyes toward Texas: Pioneers Sam and Mary Maverick. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1989.
Maverick Family. Papers. Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas, Austin.