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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Our Nephew As Pitcher

Aaron Playing Baseball

Aaron is one of our nephews and he plays baseball for his high school. Tonight they played a scrimmage game. I got some great photos!

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Alamo

Originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields, once the mission's but now their own, and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.

In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for "cottonwood") in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila.

Texas was part of the Spanish colony of New Spain until 1821 when the Mexican War of Independence gained Mexico independence from Spain. Texas became part of Mexico. Santa Anna had encouraged settlers in the Texas area. Anglo settlers in Texas were called Texians. Since the end of hostilities with Spain ten years before, the Mexican government, and Santa Anna in particular, had been eager to reassert its control over the entire country, and control of Texas was important to stop the American expansion west.

The Texas Revolution is best understood as an event that occurred within a larger Mexican civil war. Animosity between the Mexican government and the American settlers in Texas began with the Siete Leyes in 1835 when Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Perez de Lebron abolished the Constitution of 1824 and implemented an anti-federalist constitution. War began on October 1, 1835 at Battle of Gonzales. Santa Anna assembled an estimated force of 6,100 soldiers and 20 cannons at San Luis Potosí in early 1836 and moved through Saltillo, Coahuila, towards Texas. His army marched across the Rio Grande through inclement weather, including snowstorms, to suppress the rebellion.

In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Marín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo. Lieutenant Colonel William Barret Travis commanded the Texian regular army forces assigned to defend the old mission. In January 1836, he was ordered by the provisional government to go to the Alamo with volunteers to reinforce the 189 already there. Travis arrived in San Antonio on February 3 with 29 reinforcements. Within a short time, he had become the post's official commander, taking over from Colonel James C. Neill, who promised to be back in twenty days after leaving to tend to a family illness. On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Santa Anna and his troops started the seige.

The defenders of the Alamo came from many places besides Texas. The youngest, Galba Fuqua, was 16, and one of the oldest, Gordon C. Jennings, was 57. The men came from 28 different countries and U.S. states. Two negroes, for there were several negroes (slaves) and women and children in the fort, were spared. Only one woman was killed, she was shot accidentally, while attempting to cross the Alamo. Lieutenant Colonel William Travis was able to dispatch riders before the battle and as late as March 3 informing the Texas provisional government of his situation and requesting assistance. However, Sam Houston's Texas Army was not strong enough to fight through the Mexican Army and relieve the post. The provisional Texas government was also in disarray because of in-fighting among its members. On March 1 at about 1 a.m., 32 Texians led by Captain George Kimbell and John W. Smith from the town of Gonzales slipped through the Mexican lines and joined the defenders inside the Alamo. They would be the only response to Travis' plea for help. The group became known as the "Immortal 32."

Who was defending the Alamo?

William Barrett Travis was born in Saluda County, South Carolina, Mark and Jemima Travis in 1809; records differ as to whether his date of birth was the first or ninth of August, but the Travis family Bible indicates that he was born on the ninth. At the age of nine, he moved with his family to the town of Sparta in Conecuh County, Alabama, where he received much of his education. He later enrolled in a school in nearby Claiborne, where he eventually worked as an assistant teacher. Travis then became an attorney and, at age 19, married one of his former students, 16-year-old Rosanna Cato (1812-1848) on October 26, 1828. The couple stayed in Claiborne and had a son, Charles Edward, in 1829. Travis began publication of a newspaper. He later joined the Alabama militia as adjutant of the Twenty-sixth Regiment, Eighth Brigade, Fourth Division. For unknown reasons, Travis fled Alabama in early 1831 to start over in Texas, leaving behind his wife, son, and unborn daughter. Travis and Rosanna were officially divorced by the Marion County courts on January 9, 1836 by Act no. 115. Their son was placed with Travis's friend, David Ayres, so that he would be closer to his father. Travis purchased land from Stephen F. Austin and started a law practice in Anahuac. He played a role in the growing friction between American settlers and the Mexican government. On 19 December, Travis was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel of the Legion of Cavalry and became the chief recruiting officer for the Texan army. On January 21, 1836, he was ordered by the provisional government to go to the Alamo with volunteers to reinforce the 120-130 men already there. On February 3 Travis arrived in San Antonio with eighteen men as reinforcements. On 12 February, as the next highest ranking officer, Travis became the official commander of the Alamo garrison.

James "Jim" Bowie was born April 10, 1796 in Logan County, Kentucky (USA), and was the ninth of ten children born to Rezin Bowie and Elve Ap-Catesby Jones. His father had been injured while fighting in the American Revolution, and in 1782 married the young woman who had nursed him back to health. The Bowies moved frequently, first settling in Georgia, before moving to Kentucky. At the time of Bowie's birth, his father owned eight slaves, seven horses, eleven head of cattle, and one stud horse. The following year the family acquired 200 acres (80 ha) along the Red River. They sold that property in 1800 and relocated to Missouri before moving to Spanish Louisiana in 1802, where they settled on Bushley Bayou in Rapides Parish. The Bowie family moved again in 1809, settling on Bayou Teche in Louisiana before finding a permanent home in Opelousas in 1812. The Bowie children were raised on the frontier and even as small children were expected to help clear the land and plant crops. All of the Bowie children learned to read and write in English, but Jim and his elder brother Rezin could also read, write, and speak Spanish and French fluently. The children learned to survive on the frontier, how to fish and run a farm and plantation. Jim Bowie became proficient with pistol, rifle, and knife, and had a reputation for fearlessness. As a boy one of his Indian friends even taught him to rope alligators. In response to Andrew Jackson's plea for volunteers to fight the British in the War of 1812, Bowie and his brother Rezin enlisted in the Louisiana militia in late 1814. Shortly before their father died in 1818 or 1819, he gave Bowie and his brother Rezin each ten servants, and horses and cattle. For the next seven years the brothers worked together to develop several large estates. In 1825, the two brothers joined with their younger brother Stephen to buy Acadia, a plantation near Alexandria. Within two years they had established the first steam mill in Louisiana to be used for grinding sugar cane. Bowie became internationally famous as a result of a feud with Norris Wright, the sheriff of Rapides Parish. Bowie had supported Wrights's opponent in the race for sheriff, and Wright, a bank director, had been instrumental in turning down Bowie's loan application.[24] After a confrontation in Alexandria one afternoon, Wright fired a shot at Bowie. The uninjured Bowie was enraged and tried to kill Wright with his bare hands. Wright's friends intervened and stopped the attack, after which Bowie resolved to carry his hunting knife on his person. The knife he carried had a huge blade. What began as a duel between two other men deteriorated into a melee in which Bowie, having been shot and stabbed, killed the sheriff of Rapides Parish with a large knife. This and other stories of Bowie's prowess with the knife led to the widespread popularity of the Bowie knife. After recovering from the wounds he suffered in the Sandbar Fight, Bowie decided in 1828 to move to Texas, at that time a state in the Mexican federation. Bowie became a Mexican citizen on September 30, 1830, after promising to establish textile mills in the province of Coahuila y Tejas. On April 25, 1831 Bowie married nineteen-year-old Maria Ursula de Veramendi, the daughter of his business partner, who had become the vice-governor of the province. Several days before the ceremony he signed a dowry contract, promising to pay his new bride 15,000 pesos (approximately $15,000) in cash or property within two years of the marriage. At the time Bowie claimed to have a net worth of $223,000, most in land of questionable title. Bowie also lied about his age, claiming to be 30 rather than 35. The couple built a house in San Antonio, on land Veramendi had given them near the San José Mission. After a short time, however, they moved into the Veramendi Palace, living with Ursula's parents, who supplied them with spending money. The couple had two children, Marie Elve, born March 20, 1832, and James Veramendi, born July 18, 1833. A cholera epidemic struck Texas. Fearing the disease would reach San Antonio, Bowie sent his pregnant wife and their daughter to the family estate in Monclova in the company of her parents and brother. The cholera epidemic instead struck Monclova, and between September 6 and September 14, Ursula, thier children, her brother, and her parents died of the disease. Bowie, on business in Natchez, heard of his family's deaths in November. From then on, he drank heavily and became "careless in his dress". The Anglos in Texas began agitating for war, and Bowie worked with William B. Travis, the leader of the War Party, to gain support for the war. Stephen F. Austin formed an army of 500 men to march on the Mexican forces in San Antonio with the cannon that had precipitated the fight. On October 22, he asked Bowie, now a colonel in the Texas Rangers, and James W. Fannin to scout the area around the missions of San Francisco de la Espada and San José y San Miguel de Aguayo and find supplies for the volunteer forces. On the foggy morning of October 28, Mexican General Martín Perfecto de Cos led a force of 300 infantry and cavalry soldiers and 2 small cannons against the Texian forces. Although the Mexican army was able to get within 200 yards, the Texian defensive position protected them from fire. One of the men under Bowie's command during the battle later praised him "as a born leader, never needlessly spending a bullet or imperiling a life, who repeatedly admonished...Keep under cover boys, and reserve your fire; we haven't a man to spare." Bowie resigned from Austin's army because he did not have an official commission in the army, and he disliked the "minor tasks of scouting and spying". Houston offered Bowie a commission as an officer on his staff but Bowie rejected the opportunity, explaining that he wanted to be in the midst of the fighting. Instead, Bowie enlisted in the army as a private under Fannin. After Houston received word that Santa Anna was leading a large force to San Antonio, Bowie offered to lead volunteers to defend the Alamo from the expected attack. He arrived with 30 men on January 19, where they found a force of 104 men with a few weapons and a few cannons but little supplies and gunpowder. Houston knew that there were not enough men to hold the fort in an attack and had given Bowie orders to remove the artillery and blow up the fortification. Bowie and the Alamo captain, James C. Neill, decided they did not have enough oxen to move the artillery someplace safer, and they did not want to destroy the fortress. Bowie was ill, and two doctors, including the fort surgeon, were unable to diagnose his illness. When Bowie's mother was informed of his death she calmly stated "I'll wager no wounds were found in his back."

David "Davy" Crockett was most likely born on August 17, 1786 but as to where is disputed, with his birthplace being given as near the Nolichucky River in Greene County, Tennessee, in Limestone Cove, Washington County, North Carolina, in Franklin, Tennessee, or in Hawkins County, Tennessee [1]. His father ancestors were French Huguenot (Anglo-Irish) and Scots-Irish descent while his mother's ancestors appear to have been exclusively English. He was the fifth of nine children of John and Rebecca Hawkins Crockett. He was named after his paternal grandfather, who was killed at his home in present-day Rogersville, Tennessee, by Indians. His father John was one of the Overmountain Men who fought in the American Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain. The Crocketts moved to Morristown, Tennessee sometime during the 1790s and built a cabin. Shortly after being sent to school, he left home to avoid an unfair beating at the hands of his father. According to Crockett he apparently had "whupped the tar" out of a school bully who had embarrassed him on his first day in class and, to avoid a beating at the hands of the overly strict school teacher, began skipping school. After several weeks the teacher wrote to Crockett's father asking why his son wasn't attending class. When questioned Crockett explained the situation to his father who apparently was angered that family trade goods exchanged for his son's education had gone to waste and refused to listen to his son's side of the story. Crockett ran away from home to avoid the expected beating and spent several years roaming from town to town. During this period Crockett reports that he visited most of the towns and villages throughout Tennessee and learned the majority of his skills as a backwoodsman, hunter and trapper. Around his 16th birthday Crockett returned home unannounced. During the years of his travels his father had opened a tavern and Crockett had stopped for a meal. He was unnoticed by his family but one of his younger sisters recognized him with delight. Much to Crockett's surprise, the entire family - including his father - were more than happy to see him and Crockett was welcomed back into the family. On August 14, 1806, Crockett married Mary Polly Finley (1788-1815) at the home of Polly's parents in Jefferson County, Tennessee.[6] They had two boys: Congressman John Wesley Crockett was born July 10, 1807, followed by William Finley Crockett (born 1809). They also had a daughter, Margaret Finley (Polly) Crockett. After Polly's death David remarried in 1816 to a widow named Elizabeth Patton and they had three children: Robert, Rebecca and Matilda. On September 24, 1813, he enlisted in the Second Regiment of Tennessee Volunteer Mounted Riflemen for ninety days and served under Colonel John Coffee in the Creek War, marching south into present day Alabama and taking an active part in the fighting including the final victory under Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. He was discharged from service on March 27, 1815. Crockett was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the Fifty-seventh Regiment of Tennessee Militia on March 27, 1818. In 1826 and 1828 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. As a Congressman, Crockett supported the rights of squatters, who were barred from buying land in the West without already owning property. He also opposed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act.

On October 31, 1835, Crockett left Tennessee for Texas, writing "I want to explore Texas well before I return". He traveled along the Kawesch Glenn, a southwest trail with historical insight. He arrived in Nacogdoches, Texas, in early January 1836. On January 14, 1836, Crockett and 65 other men signed an oath before Judge John Forbes to the Provisional Government of Texas for six months: "I have taken the oath of government and have enrolled my name as a volunteer and will set out for the Rio Grande in a few days with the volunteers from the United States." Each man was promised about 4,600 acres of land as payment. Travis appealed for help against the Mexican forces at the Alamo and Crockett responded. He died fighting there.

James Butler Bonham was born near Red Bank (now Saluda), South Carolina, on February 20, 1807, the son of James and Sophia Butler {Smith}. His parents went to South Carolina from Maryland just after the American Revolution and settled down to become planters. Travis and Bonha grew up in the same South Carolina county and attended the same church and may have been related. Bonham entered South Carolina College in 1824. In 1827, during his senior year, he led a student protest over harsh attendance regulations and poor food being served at the school's boardinghouse. He was expelled along with the entire senior class. In 1830, Bonham practiced law in Pendleton, but was found in contempt of court after caning another attorney who had insulted one of Bonham's clients. When ordered to apologize by the sitting judge to the offended lawyer, he refused the offer and to which Bonham then threatened to tweak the judge’s own nose. Bonham was promptly sentenced to ninety days for contempt of court. Bonham served as an aide to Governor James Hamilton Jr. during the Nullification Crisis in 1832. Bonham’s fiery temperament resulted in his brandishing a sword and pistol condemning Andrew Jackson and the Washington politicians. His bold and outspoken position brought him the rank of lieutenant colonel. At the same time he served as captain of a Charleston artillery company. In October of 1834, he moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where other members of his family had previously settled. He then went to Mobile where he helped organize a company of militia cavalry known as the Mobile Greys. The small force traveled to San Felipe, Texas in late November 1835, where Bonham was commissioned a lieutenant in the Texian Cavalry on December 3. On 20 December he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Texas cavalry. On 11 January 1836, Houston recommended to James W. Robinson that Bonham be promoted to the rank of major. Bonham accompanied legendary frontiersman Jim Bowie to the Alamo. Bonham departed the Alamo on 16 February for Goliad in an effort to convince the local commander, James Fannin, to send some of his troops to help the defenders of the Alamo because of the rumors of General Santa Anna and a large contingent of troops were on their way. Fannin refused and some sources suggest that Bonham may have returned to the Alamo. These accounts state that on 20 February, Bonham again left to seek more troops, traveling to Victoria and other towns, including Gonzales where he learned that their volunteers had already left for the Alamo. By early March, after nearly two weeks of siege warfare by Santa Anna's army, Bonham eluded Mexican cavalry patrols and lines and arrived back at the Alamo on 3 March, with a final message for Travis from Robert McAlpin Williamson assuring Travis that help was on its way and urging him to hold out. But they didn't arrive and Bonham died with the other soldiers.

Micajah Autry was born in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Theophilus and Elizabeth (Greer) Autry. Between the ages of 17 and 18, he volunteered for military service against the British in the War of 1812. He marched to Wilmington, North Carolina, as a member of a volunteer militia company and later joined the United States Army at Charleston, South Carolina. He remained in Charleston in the company of Captain Long until the Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1815. bad health forced Autry to quit farming and become a teacher. He moved to Hayesboro, Tennessee, in 1823 and studied law. The next year, he married a widow, Martha Wyche Putney Wilkinson. They had two children of their own and raised Martha's daughter from her first marriage. In 1828 Autry was admitted to the bar in Nashville, Tennessee. He practiced law in Jackson, between 1831 and 1835 in a partnership with Andrew L. Martin. Autry and Martin later started an unsuccessful mercantile business in Nashville. During a subsequent business trip to New York City and Philadelphia, he heard of the opportunities in Texas. In 1835 he left his family and slaves in the care of Samuel Smith, his stepdaughter's husband, and set out for Texas by steamboat from Nashville. He met some men on the way to Texas to fight in order to be awarded land in Texas. He joined them. He was in Nacogdoches, Texas, on January 13, 1836, where he enlisted in the Volunteer Auxiliary Corps of Texas. His letter to his wife written on that date indicated that he had set out for Washington-on-the-Brazos with David Crockett and others under the command of Capt. William B. Harrison. He arrived, with this company, on February 9 and joined the Alamo garrison. Autry, an expert marksman, was chosen by his company to eliminate General Santa Anna as he walked around the Mexican battle lines. He missed and he was killed in the Alamo.

Almeron Dickinson and his wife, Susanna Wilkerson Dickinson, were at the Alamo. Evidently Almeron Dickinson was an officer. They had been living outside the Alamo and sought refuge at the fort when the Mexicans came. Almeron died at the Alamo and Susanna survived. She was the best eye witness of what happened. She died in 1883.

Joe and Sam were the two black slaves in the fort. Joe was the slave of Travis and Sam was the slave of Bowie.

Lieutenant Colonel Travis wrote in his final dispatches: "The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion otherwise the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered their demand with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat." Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas.

The seige lasted 13 days. A Mexican women deserted one night, and going over to the Mexican Army informed them of our very inferior numbers. The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. There were three picket guards without the fort, but they, must have been asleep, and were run upon an bayonetted, for they gave no alarm. Travis sprang up, seized his rifle and sword. Travis ran across the Alamo and mounted the wall, and called out to his men, "Come on boys, the Mexicans are upon us, and we'll give them Hell." He discharged his gun. In an instant Travis was shot down. He fell within the wall, on the sloping ground, and sat up. The enemy twice applied their scaling ladders to the walls, and were twice beaten back. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. On the third attempt they succeeded in mounting the walls, and then poured over like sheep. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. As Travis sat wounded on the ground General Mora,5 who was passing him, made a blow at him with his sword, which Travis struck up, and ran his assailant through the body, and both died on the same spot. This was poor Travis' last effort. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. The struggle lasted more than two hours when Susanna Dickinson's husband rushed into the church where she was with their child, and exclaimed: "Great God, Sue, the Mexicans are inside our walls! All is lost! If they spare you, save my child." Then, with a parting kiss, he drew his sword and plunged back into the battle. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory. Susanna Dickinson survived and described seeing Col. Crockett lying dead and mutilated between the church and the two story barrack building. She said Col. Bowie had been sick in bed and not expected to live, but as the victorious Mexicans entered his room, he killed two of them with his pistols before they pierced him through with their sabres. His body also mutilated.

The Mexicans brought wood from the neighboring forest and burned the bodies of all the Texans, but their own dead they buried in the city cemetery.

Mrs. Dickinson said, that of the five who, for a moment, survived their companions, and threw themselves on the victor's clemency, two were pursued into her room, and subjected in her presence to the most torturing death.2 They were even raised on the points of the enemy's lances, let down and raised again and again, whilst invoking as a favor, instantaneous death to terminate their anguish, till they were at last too weak to speak, and then expired in convulsion.

There were 200-300 Mexicans killed and 400 wounded (unknown for sure) and all the soldiers in the Alamo (between 180-250). The only survivors were women, children and 2 slaves. One was Joe, Travis' slave.

During the 13 days of the seige of the Alamo, the men within had time to write their final words.

Here is a letter from David Crocket to his family:
San Augusteen2 Texas 9th January 1836

My dear Son and daughter,

This is the first I have had an opertunity to write you with convinience I am now blessed with excellent health and am in high spirits although I have had many difficulties to encounter I have got through Safe and have been received by everybody with open cerimony of friendship I am hailed with harty welcom to this country. A dinner and a party of ladys have honored me with an invitation to partisapate both at Nacing doches [Nacogdoches]3 and at this place The Cannon was fired here on my arival and I must say as to what I have seen of Texas it is the garden spot of the world. The best land and best prospects for health I ever saw and I do so believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country to Settle

It's not required here to pay down for your League of land every man is entitled to his head right of 4000-428 acres--they may make the money to pay for it on the land. I expect in all probibility to settle on the Bordar or Chactaw Rio of Red River that I have no doubt is the richest country in the world good land and plenty of timber and the best springs & mill streams good range clear water--and every appearances of health game plenty. It is in the pass whare the Buffalo passes from North to South and back Twice a year and bees and honey plenty I have a great hope of getting the agency to settle that company and I would be glad to see every friend I have sittled thare It would be a fortune to them all I have taken the oath of government and have enrolled my name as a volunteer for [unclear word] H.__ and will set out for the Rio grand in a few days with the volunteers from the United States4 But all the volunteers is intitled to a vote for a member of the convention or to be voted for and I have but little doubt of being elected a member to form a Constitution for this province.5 I am rejoiced at my fate I had rather be in my present situation than to be elected to a seat in congress for life I am in hopes of making a fortune yet for myself and my family bad as my prospect has been.

I have not wrote to William but have requested John to direct him what to do I hope you will show him this letter and also Brother John as it is not convinient at this time for me to write to them I hope you will all do the best you can and I will do the same Do not be uneasy about me I am among my friends I must close with great respects, Your affectionate father Farewell David Crockett

__To Wily & Margaret Flowers

Memphis Mister Wiley Flowers
Feb. 3 Crockett P.O.
Wilson county

The Texas Revolution ended on April 21, 1836 at the Battle of San Jacinto (near Houston) where General Sam Houston led the Texas Army to victory in 18 minutes over a portion of the Mexican Army under Santa Anna, who was captured shortly after the battle. The conclusion of the war resulted in the creation of the Republic of Texas where it teetered between collapse and invasion from Mexico. Texas was annexed by the United States of America in 1845. The question was finally settled in the Mexican-American War.


My sources were Wikipedia and the Alamo website.

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