Chapter Four: Seguin, the Republic,
There wasn't much left when the settlers from the "Runaway Scrape" returned to Gonzales. They knew they would have to rebuild their burned homes, stores, corrals, and recapture the livestock, if there were any left. But theirs was a proud lot. They were fiercely independent and proud. This was their home. They had fought for it, many having shed their blood for its survival.
As the early settlers again swung their axes, felled trees, and began rebuilding their lives, new settlers began pouring in. News of Texas' victory at San Jacinto had spread quickly throughout the United States and her territories. The sense of adventure, the prices of the land, a chance of making a good living or getting a second chance from a failure, lured hordes of Americans.
It wasn't long before the land around the town site of Gonzales was all owned. Nobody was more aware of this than the returning Texas Rangers, who had made a camp before the Revolution at a place they called Walnut Springs. Walnut Springs, on the banks of Walnut Branch in present day Seguin, had been a meeting place for the Rangers during their patrols against outlaws and mischievous Indians. It was also right in the middle of Umphries Branch 1831 league purchase.
With the land around Gonzales running out, and the stories of the pre-revolution era settlers such as the Sowells, Tumlisons, Dicken-sons, and the proud service of the Navarros, Seguins, and Floreses, the Rangers decided that Walnut Springs would be a good place to settle.
Joseph S. Martin, although not an original settler of Gonzales, had been able to purchase the Umphries Branch league for 300 pesos. Martin was known to be a sound businessman and was held in respect by his contemporaries.
As a result, three men founded a corporation, along with Martin, to establish a town site at Walnut Springs. These men were James Campbell, Arthur Swift, and Matthew Caldwell. They agreed to buy half of the Umphries Branch league and sell shares for the purpose of building a town.
There were originally thirty-three takers, although at a later time, for one reason or another, some shareholders would sell their shares, not make the requisite payment, or default. These thirty- three are on the photo of the original Town Minutes but are listed here as well. Many of their descendants, seven to eight generations later, remain in Seguin today.
Henry B. King
James A. Swift
John R. King
James M. Day
P. C. Bell.
H. G. Henderson
Andrew J. Sowell
John H. Russell
M. S. Bebee
Miles G. Dikes
George W. Nichols
M. P. Woodhouse
(Note: Two names could not be read)
Many of these men had not only served proudly in the Texas Militia during the Revolution, but would continue their service in the Republic either as Texas Rangers or the Texas Army.
On August 12, 1838, the corporation bore fruit, for that is the day Walnut Springs was founded. There were 44 shares, 33 sold to 33 men and 11 reserved for Martin to dispose of as he saw fit. The shares were drawn by lot with the first choice of location going to the man drawing the highest number. Drawing number 44 was James Campbell, 43 was W. S. Bebee, and number 1 was Barnett Randle.
No further action was taken for about another six weeks. Plans had to be made, rules established, paperwork effected, and family plans made. It was a tremendous undertaking to begin a new community on the frontier - a community that would last through the coming centuries.
The shareholders convened again on September 22, 1838, at Walnut Springs. A form of government was established with French Smith elected as President. James Campbell, John Russell, John Gray, George Nichols, and Michael Cody were charged with planning the layout of the city. A photo shows the map that was presented November 22, 1838, to the shareholders. Note that Market Street today is named Nolte Street, and that Bastrop Street is today's River Street. Many of the streets were named either after people who had been a part of the early Seguin period, or had distinguished themselves in the battles that made Texas. Otherwise the streets were named for some function they served. For instance, Court Street was so named because it was intended to build a courthouse on one of the two inner blocks reserved for the public's use. The other block had Market Street running by, and that block was laid aside for market use by the citizens. Both blocks today are still in use, serving all the citizens of Seguin and the county, just as the founding fathers had wished. This is, in itself, a compliment not only to the founding fathers but to the citizens of today and tomorrow.
The town of Walnut Springs was organized into four sections. As one drives about town today he can easily pick out each section's characteristics. If one is interested in a driving or walking tour of Seguin's historic homes and places there are two excellent guides - Joe Comingore's Walking And Driving Tour of Historic Seguin, which can be obtained at the Public Library, and the other is a hard bound book published by the Seguin Conservation Society entitled Historic Homes - The Charm of Seguin. Both present excellent historical briefs on Seguin and her beauty.
The four sections of town were the central or inner lots, the acre lots, timber lots, and farming lots.
In the inner lots, there were 56 blocks, each two hundred feet wide. The center two blocks, as earlier written, were to be retained for public use. Each of the remaining 54 blocks were divided into building lots with each block being further divided into 8 lots. The only exception to this were the six blocks surrounding the two inner blocks. Each of those six blocks was to be subdivided into 10 lots.
The second section, the acre lots, surrounded the central 56 blocks. These were named acre lots so that if people wanted to garden or keep some livestock and poultry then they would have enough land.
To the south of the acre lots was the third section. It was called the timber lots. Each of these lots had five acres and the lots fronted the Guadalupe River.
The fourth section was to the north of the acre lots, called the farming lots. These were twelve acres in size and ran as far north as present day IH-10, and east of Guadalupe Street.
It is of interest to note that the original town site did not go west of present day Guadalupe Street. Only half of the Umphries Branch league had been purchased by the shareholders, each buying a share for $50.31.
If one is interested in the names of the streets in each of the four sections, Reverend Fitzsimon wrote his History of Seguin in 1938 and did a remarkable job in naming the streets in each of the sections.
The shareholders next determined some rules for settling. First, a house had to be built on the property within six months after November 1, 1838. Second, the house had to be a minimum of 14 feet by 16 feet. Third, either the shareholder or his representative had to be living in the house within one year. By 1840 there would be 12-13 homes.
Finally the day came when Seguin would be named Seguin. On February 25, 1839, James Campbell and John R. King made a motion that the town be named Seguin. Mr. Russell suggested the name of Tuscumbia.
The name of Tuscumbia, according to one account, was the name of a popular dance tune of the times. Research through music archives reflects there was no written music entitled Tuscumbia. There could have been a folk song by that name but to this day there has been no evidence that such existed. There is a Tuscumbia, Alabama. Tuscumbia, Alabama, was named for the Cherokee Chief, Tuscumbia. Many early pioneers came overland from Alabama, settling between the Highsmith Community and Luling. Perhaps there was a Tuscumbia, Texas, in 1839, in what would become Harrison County. The overlanders from Tuscumbia, Alabama, could have traveled through there, thus perpetuating the name of Tuscumbia.
There is some doubt as to which Seguin the town of Seguin was named after. Mrs. Willie Mae Weinert states that the pages of the Town Minutes concerning the issue were torn out. Some historians have stated it was Juan who should receive the compliment; others felt that Erasmo should be honored. The issue is really academic, for both were heroes of the Revolution, both served their cities and government. Juan would become a Senator to the Republic and later a County Judge and received a pension from the State for his military service. Of the two, Juan was the more controversial. After careful research, this author concluded, in an article written in 1985, that yes, Juan Seguin made some mistakes. These mistakes cast a dark cloud on his reputation until the day he died. However, in that he did return to serve the State, and that the Mexican government refused to recognize his military service during the Vasquez and Woll Campaigns against San Antonio in 1842, this author concluded that Juan Seguin was a true Texas Patriot.
Either way, Seguin was the right name for it was selected over Tuscumbia by a vote of 18 to 7, and the community continued to organize and be settled.
In the meantime, Santa Anna wanted revenge. He wanted Texas back. President Lamar unwittingly supplied Mexico with a way to do this. His dislike for the Indians was well known.
The overall Mexican strategy was to foment insurrection among the Indians and dismayed Mexicans inside the Republic. Many Mexicans were being verbally and culturally snubbed by some of the new settlers who had neither fought for Texas nor had taken the time to learn the Mexican culture. Realizing this, Mexico sent agents deep into Texas to stir internal rebellion.
One of these agents was Vicente Cordova. In the summer of 1838, at the same time Seguin was being organized, he had been successful in organizing an insurrection near Nacogdoches. His efforts were almost successful as he had gained a following of some 100 discontented Mexicans and 300 Cherokees under Chief John Bowles. After the insurrectionists had killed a member of an Anglo party that had gone out to recapture some stolen horses, the militia, under General Rusk, set out for the Cherokee Nation. Cordova hid on the upper Trinity River and Brazos River until March of 1839. His band of renegades constantly employed guerrilla tactics, making it difficult to locate and find him.
At the same time, Matthew Caldwell was directed to form a Company of Rangers at Seguin in March 1839. Ostensibly this was done to help Colonel Edward Burleson at Bastrop blunt the Comanche threat to the west, and to reenforce Burleson in the Cordova Rebellion.
Cordova continued his work, urging Mexicans and Indians to burn homes, destroy property, and wreak havoc. General Rusk raised a force of 250 volunteers to put more pressure on Cordova and at one point overran an Indian position, killing eleven warriors.
Cordova began to get restless. He wanted to confer with his superiors in Matamoros. With an escort of 75 Mexicans, Indians, and Negroes, he left the upper Trinity River and began to maneuver southward.
Colonel Burleson heard of Cordova's maneuvers. Upon learning of Cordova's encampment near Austin, Burleson gathered eighty men to flush Cordova out. On March 26, 1839, Burleson began his campaign. Burleson reasoned that if Cordova was making his way to Matamoros he would stay near the San Antonio to Nacogdoches Road. On March 29, his scouts picked up Cordova's trail that led to the confluence of Mill Creek and the Guadalupe River in present day Hidden Oaks, south of highway 90-A.
By late afternoon on the twenty-ninth Burleson's men charged into Cordova's defensive positions. Joined by Caldwell's Rangers in Seguin, 25 of Cordova's men were killed. Young James Day of Seguin was seriously wounded, so much so that he remained crippled the rest of his life.
Cordova was a bright guerrilla tactician, but his band panicked at the ferocity of the Ranger's attack. They broke their position and fled several miles through the bottom lands, outdistancing the tired horses of Burleson's men. After nightfall Cordova moved east of Seguin and then north towards New Braunfels where he forded the Guadalupe River. He proceeded southwards towards Matamoros, pursued by Matthew Caldwell's Rangers. However, Cordova got to the Nueces River and crossed it before Caldwell could catch up with him.
The battle of Mill Creek has come to be known as Battle Ground Prairie. There is a granite commemorative marker near the intersection of Pankau Road on highway 90-A attesting to the battle.
In addition to the Mexican attempts at creating rebellion inside the young Republic, the Comanche Indians continued their wars with the Apaches to the west and Anglo settlers to the east. One of their policies was to kill the men, and enslave the women and children.
In early January 1840, three Comanche Chiefs rode into San Antonio and demanded a treaty. It was agreed to reconvene in March at the Council House in San Antonio. The Comanches were to bring all of the enslaved white women and sell them to the Texans.
In March, 1840, 65 Comanches arrived with one woman, Matilda Lockhart. Her body had been brutalized. Bruises covered her exposed limbs, the flesh around her nostrils had been burned by live coals. She was filthy and emaciated. Sobbing, she told her story to the Texans, pointing out there were fifteen others being held west of San Antonio.
Colonel William G. Cooke of Seguin and Indian Commissioner of the Republic, Captain Caldwell of Seguin, and other Rangers became so emotionally infuriated at the sight of Mrs. Lockhart, and her story, that control was lost. In the ensuing fight several Rangers were killed, as were most of the Comanches.
The Comanche reaction to the treaty violation was violent and bloody. They went on a murdering rampage through southeast Texas, killing, burning, mutilating anything, anyone.
Victoria and Linville fell to over 1,000 marauding Comanches. One of the Linville settlers was Michael Erskine who survived and later would buy Jose de La Baume's Capote Ranch and conduct the first cattle drive from Seguin to California. His granddaughter, Mary B. Erskine, would do so much for education that what was once the High School would be named in her honor.
Ben McCulloch readied a group of men from Seguin and Gonzales while Captain Caldwell readied his Rangers. Generals Edward Burleson and Felix Huston mustered their men for a fight with the Comanches.
McCulloch's troops had intercepted the leading party of the Comanches at Casa Blanca but could not contain them. Hurriedly he dispatched a courier to Burleson. Burleson and Huston took up their positions with some 200 men while Caldwell raced towards Plum Creek with three small companies.
According to Wilbarger's Indian Depredations in Texas, Captain Caldwell made a short speech:
The results speak. At Plum Creek about seventy to eighty Comanches were killed, the rest skirting around the Texans and escaping, abandoning their livestock and some captives.
The Comanches would remain a menace on the frontier for years to come. Never again, though, would they attack in such force. The men of Seguin and the Republic were making their mark.
Events continued to unfold that would involve the citizens of Seguin and especially two very prominent men - Juan Seguin and Jose Antonio Navarro.
The economy of the young Republic was disastrous. Mexico knew this and with Santa Anna back in power in 1841, he needed only the slightest excuse to try and retake Texas.
President Lamar again unwittingly gave him the opportunity. Santa Fe, in present day New Mexico, was at the far western extreme of the Republic's boundaries. Much of its trade was with the midwestern states and territories rather than with Texas.
Lamar dispatched, in the spring of 1841, Jose Antonio Navarro and Colonel William G. Cooke, who was married to Luciano Navarro's daughter, to Santa Fe with a 270-300 man contingent. Their purpose was to reestablish trade with Texas. At Santa Fe the contingent was captured by the Mexican Army, imprisoned, and then marched to Perote Castle near Mexico City. It was there that Jose Antonio stated he would never deny his allegiance to Texas. The prisoners would not be released until 1844.
The Santa Fe expedition infuriated Santa Anna. Combined with other events such as the more aggressive patrolling of Galveston Harbor by the infant Texas Navy, he made invasion plans.
At the same time, in 1841, Juan Seguin had made several desperate decisions. Some of the land he had invested in was deeded to him by Anglo entrepreneurs. If he did not pay his notes they threatened to foreclose. Additionally, everything he had done for the early colonists, his service in the Revolution, had come to naught. The local Mexican natives had continued their culture and were not prepared for what each successive wave of Anglo settlers would bring.
Because Texas had fought Mexico for her independence and won, because of the Cordova rebellion in which disgruntled native Mexicans had declared against Texas, because of the Santa Fe expedition, and because the Anglos looked upon a person of Mexican descent as a potential traitor, and because the new Anglo arrivals looked upon the Mexican customs as insolent and lazy, and they spoke a language foreign to English, the native Mexican became a third class citizen. Even though families such as Seguin and Navarro were prominent, they too were looked upon as suspect by the lesser schooled Anglo.
Seguin was very sensitive to what he saw happening and remembered the earlier years of enjoyment and empathy with Stephen F. Austin, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie. Those days could no longer be. He was saddened to see a minority of illiterate, misguided Anglos mistreat him and his people.
Combined with prospects of financial ruin and a perceived sense of thanklessness for all his people had done, Juan Seguin set out for Mexico to engage in some livestock transactions to raise money.
It was in Saltillo that General Vasquez, upon orders of Santa Anna, told Seguin he had two choices: be imprisoned and default on his property, or serve in the Mexican army in retaking Texas. Seguin accepted the latter.
Shortly thereafter General Vasquez received orders to invade Texas. By March 5, 1842, his army of 1400 men had taken Goliad, Victoria, and San Antonio.
Jack Coffee Hays of Seguin, commanding a Ranger Company near by, heard of the occupation too late. Vasquez symbolically raised the Mexican flag over San Antonio, made a few observations and departed for the Nueces River on March 7. Hays pursued Vasquez as far as the Nueces and broke pursuit to return to Seguin and raise volunteers.
He established his camp on the Manuel Flores Ranch now known as the Saffold Place, just across the Guadalupe River and south of Seguin. Edward Burleson was elected commander, but soon the volunteers disbanded for there appeared to be no immediate danger of a new Mexican invasion.
Yet war fever swept through the Republic. Congress wanted a declaration of war on Mexico. Sam Houston wanted peace. While he was trying to appease the Republic the inevitable happened.
Captain French Smith's Company, with John R. King and William G. King, stole a six pound cannon from San Antonio. It was one less cannon for the advancing Mexican Army.
Shortly afterwards, General Adrian Woll, with Juan Seguin as one of his cavalry men, invaded and took San Antonio. The date was September 11, 1842.
At the time of the invasion, District Court was in session with Judge Anderson Hutchison presiding. Present from Seguin were Andrew Neill and Reverend Gustav Elley. All those present in the Court were taken prisoner. Only Andrew Neill would later be able to escape.
Word of the capture of San Antonio and the imprisonment of the distinguished men of the Court quickly spread.
Again the Flores Ranch at Seguin became the rallying point for volunteers. This time there would be war.
Captains Matthew Caldwell, Jack Coffee Hays, James Byrd, and James Callahan rallied a force of 200 Rangers, scouts and volunteers. Sixty were from Seguin and Gonzales alone. On September 17, 1842, they rode quickly to the Salado Creek, located between present day Rittiman Road and Eisenhauer Road.
After posting sentries and ensuring the men were prepared for battle, the order was given to rest. It was midnight. The plan was to go into effect the morning of September 19.
Early on the nineteenth, Captain Jack Coffee Hays, Lieutenant Ben McCulloch and Sergeant Ackland rode to a small ridge, three to four hundred yards east of the Alamo. They stopped and looked around to make sure of their next move.
Suddenly they raised their hats, shouted and challenged the Mexican army to do something, anything. In a few moments about four hundred Mexican cavalry stormed through the gates of the Alamo, supported by a troop of infantry.
Satisfied, Hays and his group retreated up the ridge in the direction of Salado Creek. Setting the pace, the small band of Rangers stayed close enough to the Mexican cavalry to make sure they didn't lose interest. As it turned out one of the Ranger's horses was wounded, but kept galloping. Shortly, Hays led the Mexican cavalry into Captain Caldwell's concealed position and the Battle of Salado erupted. Juan Seguin was spotted and recognized by the defenders on the Salado. His fate was sealed in the eyes of the Texans. To them he was a traitor.
By 1:00 p.m. on the nineteenth, General Woll had arrived and taken personal command of his army. Supported by artillery, the Mexican infantry charged the Texans, time and again, only to be repulsed each time.
One of the reinforcements for the volunteers and Rangers was the small company of 54 volunteers from Fayette County, led by Captain Nicholas Dawson. Cut off from the main body of defenders, out of earshot and rifle shot, Dawson's men were surrounded and isolated. Almost to a man, Dawson's Company was massacred and mutilated. Only three men managed to escape - soldiers Miller and Woods and one other. Dawson's massacre was added to the list of the Alamo, Goliad, and Santa Fe.
By sundown General Woll began his withdrawal. The Texans had won their day - the first successful victory against Mexico since becoming a Republic.
Woll used sixty carts in carrying away his wounded and dead. The Texans suffered, outside of Dawson's massacre, one killed, twelve wounded. Calvin Turner of Seguin was among the wounded. Vicente Cordova, who had led the Cordova Rebellion, was killed on the Mexican side. Fate had caught up with him.
Reinforced by two more companies from Bastrop, Captain Caldwell decided to rest his men before beginning the pursuit. With the heavy rains, he knew Woll would not make much headway in his retreat.
Juan Seguin urged his parents to join Woll's retreat to the southwest. At first Erasmo Seguin and his wife joined the retreat in their cart. After several days though, he looked at his son and said no, this is my home. Erasmo Seguin returned to San Antonio.
Beginning on September 20, 1842, Captain Caldwell began his pursuit of General Woll. Crossing the Medina River and moving towards present day Castroville, he began to close the distance. On the twenty-first Colonel John H. Moore arrived with 80 volunteers from the Colorado and Lavaca area.
However, the Texans would never catch up with Woll. He was too slippery - having dispersed his army under separate commands to exfiltrate across the Rio Grande. Caldwell's force returned to San Antonio by September 24.
The Texans were elated over their victory. Mexico was on the run. They wanted to pursue, attack, and show Mexico once and for all that the Republic was here to stay.
On September 25, in front of the Alamo and before a crowd of 1200, Colonel Edward Burleson set into motion what would become known as the Mier Expedition.
Burleson gave a rallying speech that day. He outlined a plan for an expedition into Mexico. The men were to return home, obtain fresh mounts and supplies, and return to San Antonio in one month. From there General Sommerville would lead them to Mexico.
The young townsite of Seguin again saw men crossing her paths on the way to defending the Republic. Sam Houston had subsequently ordered two regiments into service. One regiment, under the Command of Colonel Jesse B. McCrocklin, from Washington County, passed via Gonzales to San Antonio on the Seguin-San Antonio Road.
In addition to the two regiments were eleven volunteer companies. One of these companies was Jack Coffee Hays', seconded by First Lieutenant Henry E. McCulloch, and Second Lieutenant Ephraim McLean.
For some unknown reason McCrocklin's Regiment returned home. With the eleven separate companies, however, a new Second Regiment was organized.
On November 22, the final muster was held at San Antonio's Mission Concepcion. Led by General Somerville, the militia moved westward across the Medina River and then south in the direction of the Laredo Road. The weather turned cold, rainy, blustery. Many of the men were green, unused to the hardships of military campaigning. The weather, especially the cold, inhospitable rainy weather, affected the men's morale quickly.
Mules and horses often times sank to their bellies in the saturated sandy loam soil. After three days of traveling from west to south the body of 700 men, 200 packmules and 300 cows, finally made it to the Laredo Road. At last there was firm ground to support the men and their livestock.
The unabated northers continued. The Nueces River, boundary of Texas and Mexico, was flooded. Led by Captain Hays, the Nueces was crossed with no loss of life. During the night of November 25-26 the northers took their toll on the livestock. About midnight, they stampeded and were not rounded up until shortly after daybreak.
In hindsight the Mier Expedition was ill-fated from the start. First, McCrocklin's Regiment balked at going on the expedition. Second, the wet, bitter weather took its toll on man and beast. Third, while on a scouting party after crossing the Nueces, Captain Hays captured two Mexican spies, one of whom escaped and undoubtedly told his superiors of the approaching Texans.
On December 8, the Texans marched into Laredo. Although greeted with respect by the citizens of Laredo, not one Mexican soldier was to be seen. The Texans were tired, their horses spent, food was scarce, and their blankets and clothes were torn.
Additionally, General Sommerville appeared to be indecisive. He moved from one location to another, not explaining why to his men. Although this posturing may have been confusing to the Mexican soldiers, the Texans were spoiling for a fight. They were in no mood to play a game of cat and mouse. Morale sank lower.
Finally, on December 11, sensing a morale problem, Somerville stated that those who wanted to return home could do so. Two hundred left. The remaining 500 remained and crossed the Rio Grande River into Mexico on December 15, all under the watchful eye of Mexican General Canales. The men were subjected to another bone chilling norther for three days. With no dry clothes, cows or food, the Texans almost became mutinous. The Mexican army commanders continued to wait, letting the weather do their job for them. Was it not the weather that had hurt Santa Anna so much when he chased the Texans to San Jacinto?
On the morning of December 19, Somerville directed the men to return home. Two hundred again left. Somerville, Hays, and McCulloch were among the two hundred. Three hundred remained, electing to carry the battle forward. Many men from Seguin remained. They had been on the road to liberty for too long.
The 300 reorganized into companies, and pushed further down the Rio Grande. On December 23, the men entered the sleepy hamlet of Mier where the Mayor immediately surrendered. The same day, after receiving promises of being resupplied by the Mayor, Colonel William S. Fisher, the new commander, returned across the Rio Grande to the Texas side, with his men.
General Ampudia entered Mier with two hundred soldiers. For whatever reason, Fisher led his men back into Mexico to punish the Mexican military for its harassment of Texas since 1836. It was Christmas Day, December 25, 1842.
The battle was fierce, lasting seventeen hours. By 2:00 p.m. on December 26, the Texans were spent in the bloodiest battle since the Alamo. By one account, blood from the sharp shooting Texans filled the gutters.
With twenty three men wounded, almost out of ammunition, fatigued and hungry, the men under Fisher stepped forward and laid down their arms. Although Ampudia had promised to be compassionate, such was not to be the case. What happened next also tells the story of the Santa Fe prisoners and the Court prisoners.
According to Max Moellering's Master's Thesis, several men from Seguin were captured. These men were sixty-year-old Dr. Ezekiel Smith, father of Paris Smith, Zed Isam, Alexander Mathews, and Caleb St. Clair. Two men were captured whose relatives would later settle in Seguin: Robert and William Beard of Fort Bend County. Both later died during imprisonment. William Hopson of Seguin was killed in the battle.
Like the prisoners of Santa Fe one year earlier, the men were tied or chained in pairs and marched from one location to another. Mexico City was the ultimate destination. The march was not uneventful, however.
The prisoners first reached Matamoros on January 9, 1843. Paraded before the people of Matamoros, they made a dreadful spectacle. On January 19, they were force marched south to Monterrey, covering 18-20 miles a day, spending the nights in open corrals, like animals. From Monterrey they marched, still bound to one another, into the mountains of Saltillo where they were joined with the Court prisoners of General Woll. The next destination was San Luis Potosi with a stop scheduled at the Hacienda Salado, 110 miles away.
They arrived at the Hacienda on February 10, having endured over two months of humiliating captivity and enduring immense deprivation. Some made plans to escape.
Led by the fiery Scotsman, Captain Ewen Cameron, 191 men escaped the morning of February 11. Their destination was the border. Three died in the attempt. Initially a success, only five of the 191 would actually make it back to Texas. Due to overexposure, thirst, and starvation, the remainder surrendered by February 19, 1843.
By March 25, the recaptured prisoners returned to Hacienda Salado. Upon reaching their place of escape, all the prisoners learned that Santa Anna ordered his Generals to shoot each prisoner. Had his commanders not interceded, another massacre would have joined the list of those that had already occurred. As a result of the intercession, the Diezmo was ordered by Santa Anna.
Translated idiomatically, Diezmo meant every tenth man was to be executed. The method of selection was well contrived, and poorly done by the Mexican authorities. A jar or earthen pot was filled with 176 beans. One hundred fifty-nine were white, seventeen were black. Each man drawing a black bean, while blindfolded, was to be executed.
According to Eva Jones Boyd in the August, 1987, issue of Texas Highways, the following occurred:
Those who drew a black bean were allowed to write one last letter home. One is on display in our museum at Los Nogales and reprinted here:
On April 25, on the outskirts of Mexico City, orders were received from Santa Anna to execute Captain Ewen Cameron. He died bravely.
The Honor Roll of the dead were:
James D. Cooke
Henry W. Haling
R. H. Harris
Robert H. Dunham
J. C. Cash
James M. Ogder
W A. Cowan
William M. Eastland
Thomas L. Jones
J. M. Thompson
Later the prisoners were moved to Perote Prison, between Mexico City and Vera Cruz, thus joining the Santa Fe Prisoners.
Of all the Texas prisoners captured between 1841 and 1842, only 104 would be released by September 1844. The remainder had been executed, had died during imprisonment, had been released by special intercession, or had escaped.
All was not fighting, though, from 1838-1845. The infant town of Seguin was organizing and growing. There were many issues that needed attention - Mexico, Indians, bandits, roads, and home building. None of these things just happen. It takes people to make things happen, and happen they did.
Frontier communities could not have survived without some form of protection. Pre-Seguin and early Seguin were fortunate in that respect.
Protection was provided by the early Texas Rangers. Although many of them were originally from Gonzales, thirty-three would become the founders of Seguin.
Their campground, according to the Bicentennial Minutes of Seguin, was Walnut Springs, as early as 1828. Their outpost was located near Guadalupe Street, on Walnut Branch. In all likelihood it was more of a meeting place than a station with buildings, although a building was erected later.
Mrs. Weinert's research reflects that the muster roll of Captain Matthew Caldwell's "Gonzales" Rangers in 1839 consisted of:
All of these men either helped found Seguin or settled in the county. Their history is a proud history for each, in their own way, fought for, planned and built a community that pulses with activity today.
Their roads, already mentioned, were well laid out, being required to be seventy feet wide, and running north-south and east-west.
In Mrs. Betty Jean Jones' article in the Bicentennial Minutes concerning the roads,
Today the spirit of naming streets in honor of major contributors to the livelihood of Seguin continues.
Homes, no less than 14 feet by 16 feet, had to be built, and quickly, or the shareholders would have to default on their shares.
The earliest home predated Seguin - the home of Umphries Branch at Elm Springs near East Center Street and South Bauer. One of the early founders, and most enterprising, Andrew, first settled in this home. In later years he would construct five other buildings, the most famous being "Hillary Hall."
Some homes, especially the pre-Seguin homes of the early land grant holders, were built of adobe with some timber used for bracing and reinforcement, such as Los Nogales and the Navarro Ranch house. The early Anglo settlers opted for wood though.
The Hall-Burges-Glenewinkel home, on the corner of Travis and Nolte, alongside Walnut Branch, was built by Captain Robert Hall, Texas Ranger, in 1838. From his home he could walk along Walnut Branch towards Court Street and check on his Rangers at the Ranger Station. According to Vince Hauser's Master's Thesis on The Concrete Era of Seguin Texas, William Burges later took possession of the house and, as his law practice flourished, "added the Greek revival front portion of the house, probably in the late 1860s ...." Today Lynn Glenewinkel owns the Hall House, conducting his photography business in the original part of the house.
According to Richard Mycue's article in the Bicentennial Minutes, French Smith built his house in the 600 block of East Nolte, near Umphries Branch's original site. Close to him, in the 500 block of East Nolte, was the house of Abraham Roberts.
The Manuel Flores - Bird Saffold House, built around 1837 on Business Highway 123, just south of the F.C. Weinert Bridge by Starcke Park, was even commented on by the German scientist-botanist, Ferdinand Roemer, when he visited here in 1846. According to Vince Hauser's manuscript, Roemer described the house:
For an idea of what the early log cabins looked like, the reader is invited to visit the Campbell Log Cabin on East Live Oak, just across from the Agricultural Building. Through the work of Mr. Joe L. Bruns, the Pete Campbell family, the Guadalupe County Historical Commission and the Seguin Conservation Society, the Campbell House was moved to its present location in 1979. It is maintained and operated by the Seguin Conservation Society and has been restored to its early authenticity. The biggest exception is that between the original logs the spaces were caulked with mud, clay, gravel and sticks during the cold months. With the arrival of warm weather the caulking was chiseled out to allow the breezes to flow through. Today, concrete is between the logs year round.
Sometimes the spaces between the logs of the cabins, during the warm months, served a purpose other than allowing for breezes to filter through. Local legend provides an interesting story. The Lipan Apaches not only tried to be friendly, but sometimes they enjoyed playing pranks. To the young male Indians, who were seeking recognition as a brave warrior, a coup was essential. The coup had to be something belonging to a potential or established enemy. It could be earned in battle, such as a scalp, or from some derring-do raid.
The early frontier cabins usually had only one room. Later they were expanded to two rooms with a dog-run. The young girls usually helped their mothers inside and outside the cabin while the boys accompanied their fathers in the fields. Due to the warm, humid climate, the girls often braided their hair or put them in pigtails. Due to crowded conditions inside the cabin, the girls often had their backs to one of the walls. An enterprising young Indian, in search of his coup, would stealthily sneak up to the cabin and lie in wait until the right moment. That moment came as a young lady backed up to the cabin logs. Quickly reaching through the space between the logs the young Indian soon had his coup - a pigtail cut by his knife, and off he would run to proclaim his manhood. At least the young ladies retained their scalps if not their vanity and pride.
And love took place in these pioneer homes. The young Rangers met their future brides and courted them no differently than as is done today, except for the modes of transportation. House calls were made, parents were met, picnics and parties followed. Two young and smart Rangers, James Callahan and Jack Coffee Hays, met their brides in young Seguin. For James Callahan his courtship was with Melissa Day.
According to Mrs. Weinert, Melissa was the daughter of Mrs. Sara Emery Day. Mrs. Day was the widow of Judge Jonathon Day of Gonzales. He had gained a share in the stock of Walnut Springs and per her request, Mrs. Day had the share issued in her son's name, James M. Day, who would be wounded in the fight against Cordova at Battle Ground Prairie. Upon settling in Seguin, Mrs. Day had a house built on West Court Street on Walnut Branch, near the Ranger Station and close to Captain Hall's house. Being close to the Ranger Station it was inevitable for young Melissa Day to meet her man. And she did, for in 1841, she gave her hand in marriage to young Callahan. As time went on he would continue to serve his community, county and state as a Ranger and as a dedicated civilian.
Jack Hays too met his future wife in the form of Susan Calvert. No record is known of the beginning of their courtship but, according to stories handed down through the years, these two must have been quite a pair.
Susan Calvert's father, Jeremiah Calvert, according to Mrs. Weinert's book, was a descendant of Lord Calvert of Baltimore, Maryland. Susan's marriage to Jack Hays took place in the Magnolia Hotel, which, according to Vince Hauser's Thesis, was built by James Campbell around 1838. Today, the original hotel still stands on south Crockett Street.
The marriage occurred in 1847. More will be discussed concerning Captains Callahan and Hays in the next chapter.
The years of 1838 -1845 also saw the Republic move quietly towards Statehood. As her frontier towns gained a foothold, with settlers streaming in, Texas became more appealing to the U.S. Government. The young Republic had shown she could defend herself, and expanded her defenses with the creation of a Navy on Galveston Island.
Former President Andrew Jackson had a dream that Texas, California, and the Southwest were pivotal in settling America from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Sam Houston also believed in State-hood. He was a close friend of President Jackson and knew he had Jackson's support with the incumbent President, John Tyler in 1843.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress balked at the annexation of Texas. The reasons were many, but included poor relations with Mexico, additional federal military defense requirements, and slavery.
In the presidential election of 1844, in which President Tyler lost to James Polk, the issue of annexing Texas was major. There seemed to be no way the Senate would ratify the annexation of Texas. Undeterred, President Tyler succeeded in obtaining passage of a joint resolution on annexing Texas.
Prior to leaving office, President Tyler signed the resolution on March 1, 1845. On December 29, 1845, President Polk signed the Texas Admissions Act. The Republic, with her infant pioneer communities, was now a State of the United States. Her raw courage and industriousness set her and her people on a new course. Seguin would play a significant role in the continuing development of Texas.