Hanson George Catlett was a mystery. He died in Texas in 1854. But where did he come from? Other Hanson Catletts had been found in Maryland, so it was possible that this one was from Maryland, too. A treasure trove of old family letters provided the clues that broke the case wide open. In 1839, he left his family in Maryland to build his fortune in Texas, intending to bring them out west in a few years. Besides those family letters, a wide range of other sources fill in details of his life, putting it in historical per¬spec¬tive. H. G. Catlett was a prolific writer, and his first-hand accounts of surveying and land deals in early Texas, his role as courier for Zachary Taylor in the Mexican War and later as an Army quartermaster, his view of the fractious relationships with Native Americans, and his vocal support for a road to California through Texas show how complex he was. Unrest in Texas, and later the annexation of Texas and the Mexican War temporarily kept him from his initial goal. But all of his experiences led him to the partnership with Alabama Congressman Robert Toombs and Secretary of War George W. Crawford that allowed him to amass rights to almost 90,000 acres. His untimely death before the lands could be located and patents issued caused discord among his heirs and partners as they struggled to settle the estate. The Civil War further delayed the settlement, and Catlett's son Henry was prevailed upon to accept $7,500 for his one-third share of the Texas lands. Catlett's name lives on in Texas, since property carries the names of the original grantees. Tax records and real estate listing throughout central Texas to this day refer to H.G. Catlett Surveys. That, rather than the fortune he sought, is his posterity.