We are told by Academia that ethnographic methodology is not usually evaluated in terms of a philosophical standpoint. Ethnographic studies nonetheless need to be evaluated in some manner. While there is no consensus on evaluation standards, Richardson provides 5 criteria that ethnographers might find helpful.
1.Substantive Contribution: "Does the piece contribute to our understanding of social-life?"
2.Aesthetic Merit: "Does this piece succeed aesthetically?"
3.Reflexivity: "How did the author come to write this text…Is there adequate self-awareness and self-exposure for the reader to make judgments about the point of view?"
4.Impact: "Does this affect me? Emotionally? Intellectually? Does it move me?”
5.Expresses a Reality: "Does it seem 'true'—a credible account of a cultural, social, individual or communal sense of the 'real'?"
According to Norman K. Denzin, the following eight principles should be considered when observing, recording and sampling data:
1.The groups should combine symbolic meanings with patterns of interaction.
2.Observe the world from the point of view of the subject, while maintaining the distinction between everyday and scientific perceptions of reality.
3.Link the group's symbols and their meanings with the social relationships.
4.Record all behaviour.
5.Methodology should highlight phases of process, change and stability.
6.The act should be a type of symbolic interactionism.
7.Use concepts that would avoid casual explanations.
I'm going to give that a try, but after having read a book touted by William G. McLoughlin as “probably the definitive study of the Texas Cherokees“ I'm going to shine my light on the backgrounds and doings of some of the non-native peoples who populate the story of the Texas Cherokees. Many of these persons are not even mentioned in the book I speak of and in my opinion the ethno-historian was focused on the pawns and knights, while doing an admirable job of describing the board. I will attempt to at least describe some of the other pieces of the first rank. Maybe, by their style of play, choice of gambits and tempo we may guess at the Masters engaged in the actual contest.
I will say that the Cherokees were the pawns but pawns may be “queened” if allowed a mere six moves unmolested. Don't forget that as you read. There is a tale of a man who brought the Bible to a white trader in Cherokee territory. He asked the trader to translate it into Cherokee and give it to the head men of the Cherokees to read. The trader did this.
When the missionary returned several years later to the trading post, he inquired as to the response of the Cherokees to the Bible. The trader told him that they thought the first part, the Old Testament was a very strange war story of a very strange people. The second part, the New Testament they had been very impressed with. They thought the Jesus character was for the most part a very wise peace chief and a good brave man. The trader had been asked by the Chief upon finishing the books, “Why don't you white people follow what he said?”
It would be well for all to remember that the people we study in history books and “in the field” have been and are yet studying us. As for this writer in answer to the third criteria, that of “reflexivity” I will point out that I had blood on both sides of this struggle and that has taught me not to hate, but rather to learn, to understand and finally to remember. Keep in mind that men are men and must be appraised on the quality of their deeds rather than the quantity of their words.
Being a Texas Cherokee was and is a complicated thing. Feelings run deep, written records are scarce and there were many agendas at play. Cherokee blood has been mixed for four hundred years. My grandmother is my Cherokee connection and when she told me as a child of this part of my heritage, I embarked on a quest of learning that is far from over as I write. Myself, my mother, my maternal grandmother, my maternal great-grandmother and maternal great grandfather were all born in Texas. My same grandmother is also my connection to the other side of the story through a common ancestor with a man named Edward Burleson. Here is his story.
Edward Burleson (1798–1851), soldier and statesman, son of Capt. James and Elizabeth (Shipman) Burleson, was born at Buncombe County, North Carolina, on December 15, 1798. He served as a private in the War of 1812 in his father's company, part of Perkin's Regiment, Alabama. He married Sarah Griffin Owen on April 25, 1816, in Madison County, Missouri Territory; they had nine children. On October 20, 1817, Burleson was appointed a captain of militia in Howard County, Missouri; he was commissioned colonel on June 13, 1821, in Saline County, and was colonel of militia from 1823 to 1830 in Hardeman County, Tennessee.
He arrived in Texas on May 1, 1830, and applied for land in March 1831; title was issued on April 4, 1831. On August 11, 1832, he was a member of the ayuntamiento at San Felipe de Austin. On December 7, 1832, he was elected lieutenant colonel of the militia of Austin Municipality. In 1833 he was elected a delegate to the Second Convention in Mina. From 1830 to 1842 he defended settlers in numerous engagements with hostile Indians. On May 17, 1835, in Bastrop he was elected to the committee of safety and was therefore unable to attend the Consultation of 1835, although he had been elected a delegate. On October 10, 1835, in Gonzales he was elected lieutenant colonel of the infantry in Gen. Stephen F. Austin's army. On November 24, 1835, Burleson became general of the volunteer army and replaced Austin. On November 26, 1835, he fought in the Grass Fight during the siege of Bexar. His father was active in this battle, which was won by the Texans.
On December 1, 1835, Burleson was commissioned commander in chief of the volunteer army by the provisional government. On December 6 he entered Bexar and, with Benjamin R. Milam, wrote a report to the provisional government. On December 14, 1835, he reported on the success at Bexar to the provisional governor, Henry Smith. The volunteer army disbanded on December 20, 1835, and Burleson raised a company and rode to Gonzales in February 1836. By March 10, in Gonzales, he was officially elected colonel of the infantry, First Regiment. On April 21, 1836, at the battle of San Jacinto, he commanded the First Regiment, which was placed opposite Mexican breastworks and was the first to charge them. Burleson accepted the sword and surrender of Gen. Juan N. Almonte.
From July 12 to December 1836 he was colonel of the frontier rangers. In 1837 he surveyed and laid out roads to Bastrop, La Grange, and other Central Texas places. On June 12, 1837, he became brigadier general of the militia established by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. As a representative of the Second Congress from September 26, 1837, to May 1838, Burleson served on the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, the Committee on Military Affairs, and the Committee of Indian Affairs, of which he was chairman. In 1838 he was colonel of the First Regiment of Infantry in the new regular army and on April 4, 1838, defeated Mexican insurrectionists under Vicente Córdova. In the spring of that year Burleson laid out the town of Waterloo, the original settlement of the city of Austin. He was elected to the Senate of the Third Congress but resigned on January 19, 1839, at President Mirabeau B. Lamar's request, to take command of the Frontier Regiment. On May 22, 1839, Burleson intercepted a Córdova agent with proof that Mexico had made allies of Cherokees and other Indians. He defeated the Cherokees under Chief Bowl in July 1839.
On October 17, 1839, Burleson was in command of the ceremonies establishing Austin as the capital of the Republic of Texas. He defeated the Cherokees on Christmas Day, 1839, at Pecan Bayou, killing Chief Bowles' son John and another chief known as the Egg. Burleson sent Chief Bowles' hat to Sam Houston, who was enraged. On August 12, 1840, Burleson defeated the Comanches in the battle of Plum Creek.
In 1841 he was elected vice president of the republic. In the spring of 1842, when the Mexican army under Rafael Vásquez invaded Texas, Burleson met with volunteers at San Antonio, where they elected him to command. Houston sent Alexander Somervell to take over, and Burleson handed the command to him. Burleson then made his famous speech before the Alamo: "though Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat, the Alamo had none." In the fall of 1842 Mexican general Adrián Woll invaded Texas. Burleson raised troops for defense and again yielded the command to General Somervell, sent by Houston. In 1844 Burleson made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency against Anson Jones. In December 1845 he was elected senator from the Fifteenth District to the First Legislature of the state of Texas. He was unanimously elected president pro tem.
During the Mexican War Burleson and Governor James P. Henderson went to Monterrey, Nuevo León; Burleson was appointed senior aide-de-camp, held the rank of major, and served as a spy during the siege of Monterrey and at Buena Vista. In March 1851 Burleson, Eli T. Merriman, and William Lindsey surveyed and laid out the town of San Marcos. In 1848 Burleson introduced a resolution to establish Hays County and donated the land for the courthouse. He chaired the Committee on Military Affairs, which awarded a $1,250,000 grant to Texas for Indian depredations.
Burleson died of pneumonia on December 26, 1851, in Austin, while serving as senator from the Twenty-first District. He was still president pro tem. He was given a Masonic burial at the site of the future State Cemetery, the land for which was purchased by the state of Texas in his honor in 1854. Burleson was a Methodist.
(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbu40), accessed January 20, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
A band of Cherokees, following Chief Bowles kept moving farther east from Tennessee to Missouri, to Arkansas and finally to what is today Texas. At the time they went to Texas it was a province of Spanish Mexico. There were eventually colonies of American empresarios moved into the same lands. There were local indigenous peoples, Creoles and many refugees and opportunists of many different stripes. Many remnants of many other displaced homeless tribes followed Bowles or were welcomed by him.
He and other leading men of the Cherokees tried to play by the new rules and secure the all important papers needed to give title to any land a person wished to occupy regardless of the name of the territory. It mattered not if he was treating with a Spaniard, a Mexican, an American, a Frenchman, a Jew or an Englishman. People on several sides made overtures and promises and even signed documents which never saw their final ratification.
In practical terms each of the parties on all sides of the borders and disputes saw the advantage of using these Cherokees. There were, in contrast to the Cherokee who by this time were farming corn, raising livestock and cotton, spinning cloth and literate with an alphabet several nomadic indigenous groups who still lived by warfare and the by the chase.
The Mexican politicians desired a buffer to keep out new American incursions of land grabbers. Both the Americans and the Mexicans saw the usefulness of having this same buffer against the Comanches and the Lipan Apaches. For a time, that is. Being aboriginals soon barred them from having the necessary travel documents and passports needed to go to the provincial and national capitols of Mexico and conduct their business. This is why some of the non-native people who history tells us were “leaders” of the Cherokees were allowed to go on these missions. After scrutinizing the stories of these individuals, I would find it hard to trust their purported motives, their methods or their true employers.
When things came to a head after Texas won its independence, a military contingent was dispatched to the Cherokee and associated bands to inform them of their imminent removal. A few short talks were held and the negotiations promised cash compensation for crops sown and improvements such as houses, farms and for livestock. It was made clear, as several contingents of Texan soldiers drew closer cutting off any escape routes, that there was no choice about leaving, they would be ousted.
In the last parlay, it was said that the Cherokee warriors would have to take off their gun-locks and give them to the Texans. They would then be escorted across the border and returned their weapons. Bowles said that he had freely walked into this neighborhood and that he would walk out the same way. He declined the escort. The Texans demanded it. Bowles said he had to talk to the younger men first as this provision hadn't been mentioned yet in their earlier talks and agreements.
The Texans demanded that he sign off on behalf of those not present and Bowles said he would not. He sent a message to the Texas Commissioners that he would have gathered all the men needed to sign the paper in two days time. The reply came back that the Texas Army was even at that moment marching on Bowles villages and anyone not waving a white flag would be considered hostile.
By the time the Texan returned to deliver this message, the Cherokee village was deserted and the Battle of the Neches was underway. It is said the Cherokees began firing first and had eighteen killed to two casualties among the Texans The next morning a force of Cherokees together with Delawares, Kickapoos and Shawnees engaged Burleson and Rusk's men at the headwaters of the Neches River. The Texans burned the village of the Delawares and after two charges won the day. Here is an account of the life and death of Chief Bowles.
Chief Bowles or Duwa'li, was born in North Carolina circa 1756. He had auburn hair, blue eyes, and was a half-blood Scotch-Cherokee. It is said that settlers from North Carolina killed his father when he was fourteen years old. It is also said that the boy killed the murderers of his father. Bowles became the chief of the town of Running Water, Tennessee when he was thirty two. In June 1794, some boats were sailing down the Tennessee River. William Scott and a man named Stewart wanted to do some business. They invited Bowles and some others on board their boat and gave them whiskey. The Cherokees bought things for very high prices until their money was gone. After they were sober, they realized that they had been cheated. Bowles then returned all of the merchandise and tried to get the money back. He was sent ashore. He took two warriors with him and tried again. He warned the traders that they must fight or return the money. Stewart and Scott killed one warrior. Bowles escaped, but returned and killed all the white men on the boat. Bowles was afraid because the Cherokees had a treaty with the Americans. Bowles and his warriors sailed down the Tennessee River, the Ohio River, and the Mississippi River in the captured boat. Then they sailed up the Saint Francis River to Missouri. The Cherokees in Tennessee told the American government that they would help to find and to arrest Bowles. When Bowles learned of this, he decided to stay in Missouri. Many more Cherokees came to live with him. After the American government investigated, they said that Bowles was justified in what he did. Chief Bowles and his people lived in the valley of the Saint Francis River until 1811, when a violent earthquake happened. The people thought that the Great Spirit was warning them to move.
Many of them moved to Arkansas. One third of the Eastern Cherokees were living west of the Mississippi River by 1813. Chief Bowles and his followers traveled south into Mexican territory. Many other people had also left their homelands to escape the European invasion. Alabama, Biloxi, Caddo, Choctaw, Cushatta, Delaware, Ioni, Kichia, Kickapoo, Mataquo, Shawnee, Tahocullake, Taovaya, Tawakoni, Quapaw, and Waco people formed an alliance with the Cherokees. Bowles and six other chiefs obtained a grant to 1.5 million acres of land from the Mexican government. Some European settlers wanted to lead a revolution and make a new republic out of this northern part of Mexico. They asked the Cherokees for help. The Cherokee warriors fought the Apaches and the Comanches to the west. This enabled the revolutionaries to fight the Mexican Army in the south. The revolution was a success and the Republic of Texas was born. In return for their help, the Cherokee land was guaranteed by Sam Houston. The future President of the Republic of Texas. He promised that a new land title would be made. The document sat on his desk for a year and it was never ratified. When Mirabeau B. Lamar became the second president of the Republic, he refused to honor Houston's agreement. He tore up the paper. Lamar then sent a decree of expulsion to the chiefs. He had used the same tactics in Georgia when he was Governor there. Chief Bowles asked his people if they wanted to fight to hold their land. They decided to fight. Secretary of War of Texas, Albert Sydney Johnston, and General Thomas J. Rusk were sent to enforce the decree. The Battle of the Neches began on July 15. The Texas Militia burned a Delaware village and then attacked the other people. Approximately eight hundred men, women, and children were slaughtered. On July 16, Chief Bowles was shot in the leg and his horse was wounded. The Chief began to walk on the battle field. He was shot in the back.
The chief sat down and faced the Texas Militia. He began to sing a death chant. The captain of the militia approached, placed a pistol to his head and killed him. Bowles was 83 years old. Some people cut long pieces of skin from his corpse. These were used to make souvenir reins. His body was left unburied. On July 16th 1839, a dream of cultural and religious freedom ended in a bloody massacre. President Lamar made a speech before the Texas Legislature and declared that "eastern Texas is now free of all Indians." European settlers were encouraged to move onto the vacant farms. The survivors scattered. Some went to Mexico, some went to Oklahoma, and others hid in the forests of eastern Texas. Those who remained in Texas had to conceal their heritage, to escape persecution and death. A marker stands at the site of the battleground. On July 16 1995, in Cherokee County, Texas, near the town of Tyler, descendants of those tribes and their friends, had a funeral service for Chief Bowles. 156 years after his death. Also to remember the other lives that were lost in the battle. The site was purchased in 1997 by the American Indian Heritage Center of Texas. The place of the massacre is sacred. Blood and tear-drops have stained the soil. The spirits of the vanquished linger. - Pitter's Cherokee Trails -Pat Talley, Philip Lamb -edited by Michael Hawes
Firstly, I knew was a child that the Cherokees were not indigenous to Texas. They hailed from farther east in the Smokey Mountains. Some scholars I had read held out theories based on the peculiar way that Cherokee basketry was finished on the rims and the type of materials employed, such as hickory strips – that rather than coming from Asia over the land-bridge in the ice age, that they traveled north from deep in the Orinoco River basin in South America.
There are records extant, written and verbal in the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes of the coming of people from the south, who were warred upon and driven back south to the known home region of the Cherokees. Others conclude the same based on studies of the peculiarities of the Cherokee language and its dissimilarity to other aboriginal tongues of North America.
Much mystery right out of the gate. I became popular in the 1800s to theorize that the Cherokees in particular but not exclusively were remnants of the “Lost Ten Tribes” of Israel. This theory still has many adherents among Jews, aboriginals and others. This is part of a larger theory that encompasses peoples in Africa and Asia who are said to be descended from the “Lost Tribes.”
These speculations are fascinating to study in and of themselves and as in the case of the Gypsies, the words, arts, customs and genes of wandering peoples may always be discerned if one knows what to look for. It must always be born in mind that at the head of the theories many times, as in the case of the “Ten Lost Tribes”, are documents written after the facts, many of which conflict with other documents of equal age and veracity.
Mordecai M. Noah was the writer of theories of the Jewishness of some Native Americans. He proposed that the Canaanites came over the land bridge first. Here is a quote from his pamphlet.
“They were the Canaanites, the scriptural Titans, who, according to the sacred historian; built cities with walls and towers reaching to the heavens. The builders of the tower of Babel, the family of the shepherd kings who conquered Egypt, and built the pyramids, and were driven from Syria by Joshua. The men, who finally founded Tyre and Carthage, navigated round the continent of Africa, and sailed in their small craft across the Atlantic, and landed in the Gulf of Mexico. The Phoenicians were the founders of Palenque, Mitlan, Papantla, Quemada, Cholula, Chila and Antiquerra. When I studied the history of these people, on the ruins of Carthage, it was said by antiquarians present, that the Carthaginians had a colony at a considerable distance, which they secretly maintained; and when I was at Tangiers, the Mauritania Tangitania of the ancients, I was shown the spot where the pillar was erected, and was standing in the time of Ibnu, the Moorish historian, on which was inscribed, in the Phoenician language -- "We are the Canaanites who fled from Joshua, the son of Nun, that notorious robber." From that spot, then... the pillars of Hercules, now known as the straits of Gibraltar, they crossed to our continent, and founded a great empire of the Ophite worship, with Syrian and Egyptian symbols. Now, mark the issue. Fifteen hundred years after the expulsion of the Canaanites by Joshua, the ten tribes pass over the straits of Behring to the continent of America, and poured down upon these people like the Goths and Vandals. The descendants of Joshua a second time fell on the Canaanites on another continent, knowing them well as such, and burn their temples; and destroy their gigantic towers and cities.” - 1837: Discourse of the Evidence of the American Indians being the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israël - Mordecai M. Noah
Mordecai owned newspapers in New York such as The National Advertiser, The New York Enquirer merged into the New York Courier and Enquirer, The Evening Star and The Sunday Times. He bought land in Grand Island in the Niagara River and created a refuge for Jews, which he called Ararat. From Wikipedia we learn that “On September 2, soon after arriving in Buffalo from New York, thousands of Christians and a smattering of Jews assembled for a historic event. Noah led a large procession headed by Masons, a New York militia company and municipal leaders to St. Paul's Episcopal church. There was a brief ceremony- including a singing of the psalms in Hebrew. The cornerstone was laid on the communion table which read "Ararat, a City of Refuge for the Jews, founded by Mordecai M. Noah in the Month of Tishri, 5586 (September, 1825) and in the Fiftieth Year of American Independence.”
The proclamation establishing the refuge was read. The day ended with music, cannonade and libation. Twenty-four guns, recessional, Masons retired to the Eagle Tavern. No one ever set foot on Grand Isle. Mordecai returned to New York without setting foot on the island. The cornerstone was taken out of the audience chamber of the church and laid against the back of the building. It is now on permanent display at the Buffalo Historical Society in Buffalo, NY. Despite the failure of his project, he developed the idea of settling the Jews in Palestine and can be considered as the very founder of modern Zionism.” Herzl came along decades later, so this statement appears reasonable to me.
So we have a man who owned four newspapers “just looking for a home.” This Mordecai turned down a consulship to Riga given him by President James Madison in 1811. Two years later he accepted an appointment as consul to the Kingdom of Tunis. Two years later he was fired on the grounds that, in the words of James Monroe, his religion was "an obstacle to the exercise of [his] Consular function."
Another man, John Howard Payne subscribed to this theory of the “Lost Tribes.” Payne is famous mostly for the song he wrote the lyrics to called, Home Sweet Home. His maternal grandfather, Aaron Isaacs, was said to have come from Hamburg, Germany. He spent time in New York City and was listed as a member of Temple Shearth Israel in 1748. He was a merchant who shipped goods on consignment between Long Island and Connecticut and was employed as a courier during the American Revolution.
Payne was consul to Tunis (here we go again) for ten years after being appointed by President John Tyler in 1842. He was buried there and disinterred in 1883, brought to New York and then buried in Washington, DC. He went in 1836 to visit John Ross, a Cherokee chief who opposed the Removal policy of the USA. He also visited Major Ridge, another Cherokee leader who supported the Removal. His travels around the south were supposed to be for the purpose of canvassing subscriptions and literary materials for a new weekly magazine he proposed to call Jam Jehan Nima , or The World From The Inside of a Bowl.
He stayed quite some time with Ross and compiled much information as to the customs of the tribe as well as transcribing the official Cherokee records. He and Ross were jailed by the Georgia Guard and released after Major Ridge intervened on their behalf. Payne wrote letters that were placed in newspapers and some of these were supposed to speak for all Cherokees, which of course wasn't the case and incensed many people both white and Cherokee.
The notes he made as to the customs and traditions were held privately until just a few years ago. I purchased them and read both volumes. They are wholly concerned with finding similarities between Cherokee customs and ancient Judaic customs in order to support the M. M. Noah theory. There is no way to know if they are accurate and I wonder why they were held in a private collection for over one hundred and fifty years.
Payne was educated at Union College in Schenectady, New York. One of his contemporary classmates at Union College was a man named John F. Schermerhorn. This fellow was sent on a mission by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The Society was chartered by King William III in 1701. John's report to the Trustees of the Missionary Society of Connecticut was published in pamphlet form in Hartford in 1814, and was entitled: A Correct View of that Part of the United States which lies West of the Allegheny Mountains, with regard to Religion & Morals; by John F. Schermerhorn and Samuel J. Mills.
In 1832 President Andrew Jackson appointed Schermerhorn one of a Commission to remove the Cherokee and Chickasaw beyond the Mississippi River (later to be known as the Trail of Tears). While Indian Commissioner, he acquired about 400,000 acres of land in Highland, Grayson, Bath and Wythe Counties in Virginia. He and Payne met each other in Cherokee country while he was trying to secure a Removal Treaty. Payne was lobbying for the Ross party and this placed the two schoolmates directly opposite each other. Kind of like the old dialectic we are confronted with down through all of history.
Payne had some friends of interest. Two of which were the Colt brothers of Hartford, Connecticut. Samuel Colt made repeating pistols and his brother John C. was an authority on double-entry book-keeping.
From Wikipedia we glean that: John Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut. His father was Christopher Colt, a farmer who had moved his family to Hartford when he changed professions and became a businessman. Colt's father sent him to Hopkins Academy when he was 9-years-old, but removed him from school after a year as John was constantly in trouble and the elder Colt had lost his fortune in the economic Panic of 1819. His mother, Sarah Colt née Caldwell, died of tuberculosis when Colt was eleven years old. The children were cared for by Christopher's sister Lucretia Colt Price until Christopher Colt remarried two years later to Olivia Sargeant. The Colt family included seven siblings: four boys and three girls. The eldest sister, Margaret, died of tuberculosis 2 years after Colt married Sargeant, another of the sisters died in childhood. One of his brothers, Samuel Colt, achieved wealth and fame by founding the Colt's Manufacturing Company. Sargeant had three children with Colt and had little time for the children from the first marriage. Having lost their financial status, Olivia insisted that these children be put to work rather than receive any schooling. The Colt brothers became attached to their one remaining sister, Sarah Ann who acted as a surrogate mother of sorts, until she was sent from the house to a relative to work as a menial. John was known to keep locks of her hair and Margaret's all through his life.
Colt worked as an assistant book keeper at age 14 for the Union Manufacturing Company in Marlborough, Connecticut. He left the job and moved to Albany, New York in less than a year. He returned to Hartford in 1826 and studied at an academy for three months. In 1827 he found employment as a math teacher at a ladies seminary in Baltimore, Maryland for a year. In 1828 he became a supervisory engineer for a canal near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The following year his sister, Sarah Ann committed suicide by taking arsenic; one newspaper account stated it was due to a fight with her step-mother and another said she "took a morbid view of her doom to labor" until her "fortitude and her mind gave way". Devastated by this loss, John vowed to "leave the country and pass the rest of his days in some foreign land". In despair, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. His orders were for a Mediterranean cruise on the U.S.S. Constitution; illness prevented him from serving on the ship and he worked as a clerk in Norfolk, Virginia for Colonel Anderson.
Colt spent three months as a Marine and was disillusioned with the military lifestyle; clerking in a humid port was not the adventurous life he had envisioned. He was still very ill, but not ill enough for a medical discharge, so he forged a letter in the name of "George Hamilton", a farmer from Ware, Massachusetts, stating that his underage son had falsely enlisted under the name of John Colt. He mailed the letter to his brother James and asked him to mail it to Colonel Anderson from Ware. Anderson discharged Colt within days of receiving the letter, citing Colt's illness as the reason and not fraudulent enlistment.
Upon his discharge, Colt spent a year as a law clerk for his cousin, Dudley Selden.
Dudley Selden (1794 – November 7, 1855 Paris, France) was an American lawyer and politician from New York. He was a son of Joseph Dudley Selden (1764–1837) and Ethelinda Colt (1771–1864). He married Mary Augusta Packard (1803–1868), and had a daughter Maria Louisa Selden who married William Rogers Morgan. Selden graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1819. He studied law. He was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of his profession in New York City in 1831. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1831. Selden was elected as a Jacksonian to the 23rd United States Congress and served from March 4, 1833, to July 1, 1834, when he resigned. He was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
At the same time he became a river boat gambler and was challenged to a duel over a shared mistress. Although the two never fought the duel, this incident would become part of Colt's back story as a roughneck, street fighting gambler. He traveled to Vermont in 1830 as a debate coach for the University of Vermont, at Burlington; however, he left after a year due to symptoms of tuberculosis. Colt then traveled to the Great Lakes for relief from the disease and bought a farm in Michigan on Gooden's Lake; however, tubercular symptoms surfaced again and he soon left for Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became a teacher of one of the first correspondence courses in America, center of a Bohemian circle and counted John Howard Payne and Hiram Powers among his friends.
From there he attempted many business ventures throughout the United States: land speculator in Texas, soap manufacturer in New York, grocery wholesaler in Georgia, fur trader, dry-goods merchant in Florida, and an organizer of Mardi Gras masquerade balls in New Orleans
Payne served as a character witness for John. C. at John's trial for the murder of a printer named Samuel Adams, to whom Colt owed money for the publication of a bookkeeping textbook he had written. The two disagreed over the final amount owed; sources indicate that it was a discrepancy of $1.35. Colt killed Adams with a hatchet in what he claimed was self-defense, but afterwards covered up the crime by disposing of the body in a box of salt he tried to ship to a fake address in New Orleans.
On September 28, 1842, after exhausting his final appeal, Colt was sentenced to death by hanging and remanded to New York City's infamous prison, the Tombs. His sentence was to be carried out on November 14, 1842. Colt asked that he be allowed to marry Caroline Henshaw on the morning of his hanging. While imprisoned, Colt lived luxuriously in his prison cell, receiving daily visits from friends and family, smoking Cuban cigars, sleeping in an actual bed instead of a mound of straw and wearing silk dressing gowns inside and a seal skin overcoat for his daily walks in the prison yard. His cell contained the latest novels, a gilded bird cage with a canary and fresh flowers brought to him every day by Henshaw.
He dined on meals from local hotels such as quail on toast, game pates and reed birds. Several attempts were made to break him out of the prison by dressing him in women's clothing but all these efforts were foiled. A doctor was hired who claimed he could resuscitate Colt from the hanging, providing the body did not remain suspended long, as he believed Colt's neck to be of such thickness that strangulation would be impossible. Colt's friends put the doctor up in the Shakespeare Hotel on the morning of the scheduled hanging and planned to bring the body there from the Tombs for resuscitation.
On the morning of November 14, 1842, Colt and Henshaw were married in the prison at a small ceremony conducted by Rev Henry Anthon, an Episcopal Minister, and witnessed by Samuel Colt and John Howard Payne. After the ceremony and a few hours before the scheduled execution, a fire broke out in the Tombs. After the fire was extinguished, Colt's body was found in his cell. He had stabbed himself in the heart with a clasp knife, believed to have been smuggled to him by a family member. His body was taken by Rev Anthon and buried in the churchyard of St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery.
Here is what a former Chief of Police of New York said in his book regarding this very busy day. "I have heard it declared over and over again, by those in a position to know, that Colt did not commit suicide; that the body found in his cell when the Tombs caught fire was only a corpse prepared for the purpose, and that he escaped in the confusion. The coroner, it is said was aware of the deception. Persons who knew Colt well are positive they have seen him since the time of his alleged suicide in both California and Texas." -Walling, George Washington (1887). Recollections Of A New York Chief Of Police. Caxton book concern, limited. p. 26.
From Wikipedia we learn from Colt historian William Edwards that Caroline Henshaw married Samuel Colt in Scotland and that the son she bore was Samuel Colt's and not John Colt's. In a 1953 biography about Samuel Colt based largely on family letters, Edwards wrote that John's marriage to Caroline was a way to legitimize her son, Sammy. Samuel Colt had abandoned her because he felt she was not fit to be the wife of an industrialist and divorce was a social stigma at the time.
Samuel Colt took care of the child named Samuel Caldwell Colt financially with a large allowance and paid for his tuition in what was described as "the finest private schools". In correspondence with and about his namesake, Samuel Colt referred to him as his "nephew" in quotes. Historians such as Edwards and Harold Schechter have said this was the elder Colt's way of letting the world know that the boy was his own son without directly saying so.
After Samuel Colt's death in 1862, he left the boy $2 million by 2010 standards. Colt's widow, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt and her brother contested this. In probate, Caroline's son Sam produced a valid marriage license showing that Caroline and Samuel Colt were married in Scotland in 1838 and that this document made him a rightful heir to part of Colt's estate, if not to the Colt Manufacturing Company.
Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers had acquired some of the first Colt revolvers produced during the Seminole War and seen first-hand their effective use as his 15-man unit defeated a larger force of 70 Comanche in Texas. Walker wanted to order Colt revolvers for use by the Rangers in the Mexican-American War, and traveled to New York City in search of Colt. He met Colt in a gunsmith's shop on January 4, 1847 and placed an order for 1,000 revolvers. Walker asked for a few changes; the new revolvers would have to hold 6-shots instead of 5, have enough power to kill either a man or a horse with a single shot and be quicker to reload. The large order allowed Colt to establish a new firearm business. His factory in Hartford built the sidearms used by both the North and the South in the American Civil War and his firearms were credited in taming the western frontier.
Some other men of interest during these times were Haden Edwards, John Dunn Hunter, Peter Samuel Davenport, John Marie Durst and Adolphus Sterne.
Haden Edwards was born in Stafford County, Virginia, on August 12, 1771. He was the son of John Edwards, Sr, who later became one of the first two U. S. Senators from Kentucky. Haden married Susanna Beall of Maryland and they had 13 children. In 1820 Haden Edwards and his brother Benjamin acquired a plantation near Jackson, Mississippi. One of his sons, Haden Harrison Edwards (1812–1864) was a Texan who worked as a legislator, a merchant and a soldier. He founded the Sabine Pass and East Texas Railway and was that company's first president.
After learning that Mexican authorities were considering opening Mexican Tejas to American immigration, many empresarios had congregated in Mexico City to lobby for land grants. Among these were Stephen F. Austin and Haden Edwards, an American land speculator who quickly became known for his quick temper and aggressiveness. Despite his abrasive attitude, after three years of persuading various Mexican governments to allow Americans to settle in Tejas, in 1824 the Mexican federal government passed a General Colonization Law, which for the first time permitted immigration into Tejas. Under the terms of the law, each state would set its own requirements for immigration.
On March 24, 1825, the state of Coahuila y Tejas passed a colonization law, authorizing large land grants to empresarios who would recruit settlers for a particular colony. Edwards was granted a colonization contract on April 14. The contract allowed him to settle 800 families in East Texas. It required Edwards to recognize all preexisting Spanish and Mexican land titles in his grant area, to raise a militia to protect the settlers and to allow the state land commissioner to certify all deeds that Edwards would award.
Edwards' grant was located in a difficult part of the country. It encompassed the land from the Navasota River to 20 leagues west of the Sabine River, and from 20 leagues north of the Gulf of Mexico to 15 leagues north of the town of Nacogdoches. In Nacogdoches itself were the remnants of previous filibuster expeditions that had failed. To the north and west were Indians; the southern boundary was a colony belonging to Stephen F. Austin, who had received special permission to establish his colony several years prior. East of Edwards's grant was the former Sabine Free State, a neutral zone which had been essentially lawless for several decades.
Edwards arrived in Nacogdoches in August 1825. Believing that he was authorized to determine the validity of preexisting land deeds, in September Edwards posted notices alerting all residents that they must provide written proof of their ownership or their land would be forfeited and sold at auction. None of the English-speaking residents had valid titles as they had been duped by land speculators. Most of the Spanish-speaking landowners were unable to find the documentation that their families received seventy or more years before. But the number of grants actually in question was very low. According to General Land Office records, thirty-two had been made before 1825. In only one case was someone's land actually sold to someone else. But Edwards' behavior was threatening and it polarized the old inhabitants against the new. Edwards had $50,000 invested in the venture.
Anticipating the conflict between the new empresario and the old residents of the area, alcalde Luis Procela and the clerk, Jose Antonio Sepulveda, began validating old Spanish and Mexican land titles. Edwards accused the men of forging deeds. It is likely that both Edwards and the municipal authorities were in the wrong as the state land commissioner had been given authority to validate existing land titles.
An election for alcalde in December provided the occasion for the factions to express their opposition. Samuel Norris was the candidate for the old settlers and Chichester Chaplin (Edwards' son-in-law) was supported by the new. After the voting, Edwards certified Chaplin's election to political chief José Antonio Saucedo in San Antonio. Norris' supporters challenged his claim and charged that the voters in Chaplin's support were unqualified. Saucedo reversed the election in March 1826 and ordered archives and duties to be surrendered to Norris. The controversy did not settle down, in June 1826 Mexican President Guadalupe Victoria annulled Edwards' contract and expelled him from Mexico. Edwards was outraged and he found support in the new settlers he had brought.
On November 22, 1826, Martin Parmer (Chaplin's future father-in-law), John S. Roberts and Burrell J. Thompson led a group of thirty-six men from the Ayish Bayou to Nacogdoches, where they seized Norris, Haden Edwards, José Antonio Sepulveda and others and tried them for oppression and corruption in office. Haden was released and in fact his inclusion in the group may have been to cover up his participation in the attack. The others were tried, convicted and told they deserved to die but would be released if they relinquished their offices. Parmer turned the enforcement of the verdict over to Joseph Durst and proclaimed him alcalde. As soon as Mexican authorities heard of the incident, Lt. Col. Mateo Ahumada, principal military commander in Tejas, was ordered to Nacogdoches. He left San Antonio on December 11 with twenty dragoons and 110 infantrymen. Ahumada also enlisted Stephen F. Austin and Peter Ellis Bean, a Mexican Indian agent.
Edwards and Parmer began preparations to separate from Mexico in the name of an independent republic they called Fredonia. They planned to use the Texas Cherokees in their rebellion so they designed a flag with two parallel red and white bars to symbolize Indian and white. In fact, they obtained a treaty with the signatures of one Cherokee leader named Richard Fields and a strange man called John Dunn Hunter, but Cherokee support never materialized. The flag was inscribed "Independence, Liberty, Justice." Another three word slogan so reminiscent of the French Revolution and the Grand Orient Lodge.
Haden Edwards designated his brother Benjamin Commander in Chief and appealed to the United States for help. On December 16, 1826 the rebels rode into Nacogdoches and raised a flag of independence. The rebels signed it and flew it over the Old Stone Fort. Their Declaration of Independence was signed on December 21, 1826, declaring the Republic of Fredonia which would comprise of land from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande. When the Mexican officers and militia and members of Austin's colony reached Nacogdoches on January 31, 1827, the revolutionists fled across the Sabine River to Louisiana for safety. The Indians, Cherokees it is said, killed John Dunn Hunter and Richard Fields for involving the Tejas immigrant tribes in the whole damn adventure.
The Chaplin family settled in Natchitoches, where, on June 4, 1827, Chaplin was named a justice of the peace for Natchitoches Parish, a post he held for less than a year. Chaplin's first wife, Tabitha Beall Edwards Aydelot died on November 24, 1827 and he married Emily Parmer (daughter of Martin Parmer) in 1829 or 1830 in Natchitoches Parish while he was a fugitive from the Fredonian Rebellion. They had six children. With his selection as a Louisiana justice in 1827, he began a judicial career in both western Louisiana and eastern Texas that spanned almost four decades (1827–64). In 1827–28 he served as Probate Judge and from 1829 to 1834 as Parish Judge of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, newly formed from a portion of the original Natchitoches Parish.
Sometime late in 1833 or early in 1834 he returned to Jefferson County, Texas, where in 1836 he was chosen the first Chief Justice of the County. He served in that office for a short time and in 1838 was made a member of the Board of Land Commissioners of San Augustine County, Texas. Since he was in Texas before 1835, Judge Chaplin was awarded a Mexican land grant of a league in San Augustine County, on May 18, 1835. In December 1839 he received a head-right grant of 640 acres in Jasper County from the Republic of Texas. In 1840 he purchased land from his wife's family.
By 1845, however, he was again in Louisiana serving as District Attorney for Sabine Parish, a post he held until 1853, when he was installed as District Judge of the Parish. When a District Court for the Sixteenth District was established in 1855, he began functioning as judge of both the old Ninth District Court and the new Sixteenth District Court, both headquartered in Sabine Parish; he held this dual post until December 1864. In 1865 Chaplin completed his public service as the attorney for the Natchitoches Parish police jury. In 1870 Chaplin was grand master of the Free masonic Phoenix Lodge No. 38 in Natchitoches.
Edwards returned to Texas during the Texas Revolution, participated in the battle of Nacogdoches and made his home in Nacogdoches until his death on August 14, 1849. Edwards was the first worshipful master of the Free masonic Milam Lodge No. 2 when it was organized in 1837. Here we see Edwards displaying the sign of the Lion's paw in a portrait with his wife.
John Dunn Hunter (ca. 1796–1827), Cherokee leader* around the time of the Fredonian Rebellion, was born about 1796. He claimed that as a child he had been captured by the Cherokee Indians before they came to Texas. He adopted the name of an English benefactor, John Dunn, and later added the name "Hunter" given by the Indians because of his prowess in the chase. Although he lived with the Indians until about 1816, he received a fairly good education and traveled considerably through the United States and England. While in England Hunter wrote an account which was published in London in 1824 under the title of Memoirs of a Captivity among the Indians of North America. Dr. Hunter, as he was often called, returned to the Cherokees at one of their East Texas villages in 1825. In December of that year he was sent by Richard Fields to renew negotiations with Mexico for land for a Cherokee settlement in Texas. He arrived in Mexico City on March 19, 1826, and was promised land to be granted to individual Indian settlers but was unsuccessful also in getting a tribal grant with the right of self-government. Hunter returned to the Cherokee village in East Texas in May 1826 and, with Fields, began negotiations with Martin Parmer and his associates for the movement that resulted in the Fredonian Rebellion. Arrangements were made at Sand Springs in the area of southern Rusk County for dividing Texas between the Indians and the Anglo settlers with a line beginning at those springs and running due west to the Rio Grande. At this juncture Peter Ellis Bean arrived in East Texas as an agent of the Mexican government. Through Bean's influence the Cherokee council repudiated the agreement and refused to send men to assist the rebels. Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter fled after their trial by the Cherokee Council and were caught and executed in early February of 1827.
Robert Bruce Blake, "HUNTER, JOHN DUNN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhu33), accessed January 19, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Here are a few pages from an interesting book about Mr. Hunter, I include it as you will have to draw your own conclusions as to what he was up to. *The above citation says he was a Cherokee leader, he was neither a Cherokee nor was he their leader. The Cherokees were not allowed travel papers to go to the capitol, Hunter was allowed these documents, so he went in their stead. The two accounts disagree on which tribe he was “kidnapped” by as well.
About the year 1822, there appeared at New York a young man, of small stature, light hair, light eyes, and in every respect of ordinary appearance, who told of himself a strange and interesting story, which was briefly this.
At an early period of his childhood, he, with two other white children, living on the farthest bound of the western settlements, were one day carried off by a party of Indians, probably Kickapoos. One of the children was killed before his eyes, and he was soon separated from the other. He was carried to a considerable distance by the Indians, who at last arrived at their hunting grounds. He became gradually reconciled to his situation, and, though he was occasionally taunted by being white, he was finally regarded as one of the tribe.
He continued to live among the Indians for many years; traveled with them in their migrations over the vast western wilds, visited the borders of the Pacific Ocean, and shared in the wild adventures of Indian life. He came, with his Indian friends, at last, to the Osage settlements on the Arkansas, where he found some white traders, among whom was a Colonel Watkins, who treated him with kindness, and sought to persuade him to leave the Indians, and return to civilized life. Such, however, was his attachment to his adopted friends, that he rejected these suggestions.
Soon after, however, under the influence of intoxication, his Indian friends having laid a deep scheme for murdering Colonel Watkins and his party of hunters, the hero of our story deserted his tribe, and gave timely notice to Watkins, thus saving his life, and that of his friends.
Though his mind was greatly agitated by a feeling of self-disgust for the treachery he had committed toward his Indian brethren, he continued with the party of Watkins for a time, and descended the Arkansas river with them, nearly to its junction with the Mississippi. Here he left them, having made up his mind to join some Indian tribe which might not be acquainted with his breach of faith to the band of Osages, with whom he had lived so long.
Being supplied with a rifle and plenty of ammunition, he struck into the wilderness in a northerly direction, and pursued his wanderings alone, amid the boundless solitude. In the volume which he afterwards published, he thus describes this portion of his adventures:--
"The hunting season for furs had now gone by, and the time and labor necessary to procure food for myself, was very inconsiderable. I knew of no human being near me; my only companions were the grazing herds, the rapacious animals that preyed upon them, the beaver and other animals that afforded pelts, and birds, fish and reptiles. Notwithstanding this solitude, many sources of amusement presented themselves to me, especially after I had become somewhat familiarized to it.
"The country around was delightful, and I roved over it almost incessantly, in ardent expectation of falling in with some party of Indians, with whom I might be permitted to associate myself. Apart from the hunting that was essential to my subsistence, I practiced various arts to take fish, birds, and small game; frequently bathed in the river, and took great pleasure in regarding the dispositions and habits of such animals as were presented to my observation.
"The conflicts of the male buffaloes and deer, the attack of the latter on the rattlesnake, the industry and ingenuity of the beaver in constructing its dam, and the attacks of the panther on its prey, afforded much interest, and engrossed much time. Indeed, I have lain for half a day at a time, in the shade, to witness the management and policy observed by the ants in storing up their food, the manœuvres of the spider in taking its prey, the artifice of the mason-fly in constructing and storing its clayey cells, and the voraciousness and industry of the dragon-fly to satisfy its appetite.
"In one instance, I vexed a rattlesnake, till it bit itself, and subsequently saw it due from the poison of its own fangs. I also saw one strangled in the wreathed folds of its inveterate enemy--the black snake. But, in the midst of this extraordinary employment, my mind was far from being satisfied. I looked back with the most painful reflections on what I had been, and on what sacrifices I had made, merely to become an outcast, to be hated and despised by those I sincerely loved and esteemed. But, however much I was disposed to be dissatisfied and quarrel with myself, the consolation of the most entire conviction that I had acted rightly, always followed, and silenced my self-upbraiding.
"The anxiety and regrets about my nation, country and kindred, for a long time held paramount dominion over all my feelings; but I looked unwaveringly to the Great Spirit, in whom experience had taught me to confide, and the tumultuous agitations of my mind gradually subsided into a calm; I became satisfied with the loneliness of my situation, could lie down to sleep among the rocks, ravines, and ferns, in careless quietude, and hear the wolf and panther prowling around me; and I could almost feel the venomous reptiles seeking shelter and repose under my robe, with sensations bordering on indifference.
"In one of my excursions, while sitting in the shade of a large tree, situated on a gentle declivity, with a view to procure some mitigation from the oppressive heat of the mid-day sun, I was surprised by a tremendous rushing noise. I sprang up, and discovered a herd, I believe, of a thousand buffaloes, running at full speed, directly towards me; with a view, as I supposed, to beat off the flies, which, at this season, are inconceivably troublesome to those animals.
"I placed myself behind the tree, so as not to be seen, not apprehending any danger, because they ran with two great rapidity, and too closely together, to afford any one of them an opportunity of injuring me, while protected in this manner.
"The buffaloes passed so near me on both sides that I could have touched several of them, merely by extending my arm. In the rear of the herd, was one on which a huge panther had fixed, and was voraciously engaged on cutting off the muscles of the neck. I did not discover this circumstance till it had nearly passed beyond rifle-shot distance, when I discharged my piece, and wounded the panther. It instantly left its hold on the buffalo, and bounded, with great rapidity, towards me. On witnessing the result of my shot, the apprehensions I suffered can hardly be imagined. I had, however, sufficient presence of mind to retreat, and secrete myself behind the trunk of the tree, opposite to its approaching direction. Here, solicitous for what possibly might be the result of my unfortunate shot, I prepared both my knife and tomahawk for what I supposed would be a deadly conflict with the terrible animal.
"In a few moments, however, I had the satisfaction to hear it in the branches of the tree over my head. My rifle had just been discharged, and I entertained fears that I could not reload it without discovering and exposing myself to the fury of its destructive rage. I looked into the tree with the utmost caution, but could not perceive it, though its groans and vengeance-breathing growls told me that it was not far off, and also what I had to expect in case it should discover me.
"In this situation, with my eyes almost constantly directed upwards to observe its motions, I silently loaded my rifle, and then, creeping softly round the trunk of the tree, saw my formidable enemy resting on a considerable branch, about thirty feet from the ground, with his side fairly exposed. I was unobserved, took deliberate aim, and shot it through the heart. It made a single bound from the tree to the earth, and died in a moment afterward.
"I reloaded my rifle before I ventured to approach it, and even then not without some apprehension. I took its skin, and was, with the assistance of fire and smoke, enabled to preserve and dress it. I name this circumstance, because it afterward afforded a source of some amusement; for I used frequently to array myself in it, as near as possible to the costume and form of the original, and surprise the herds of buffaloes, elk and deer, which, on my approach, uniformly fled with great precipitation and dread.
"On several occasions, when I waked in the morning, I found a rattlesnake coiled up close alongside of me: some precaution was necessarily used to avoid them. In one instance, I lay quiet till the snake saw fit to retire; in another, I rolled gradually and imperceptibly away, till out of its reach; and in another, where the snake was still more remote, but in which we simultaneously discovered each other, I was obliged, while it was generously warning me of the danger I had to fear from the venomous potency of its fangs, to kill it with my tomahawk."
After Hunter had been engaged in roving about in this manner for several months, hoping to meet with some party of Indians to whom he might attach himself, he met with a company of French hunters, whom he accompanied to Flee's settlement, on the White river. From this point, after a stay of some months, in which he acquired a good deal of credit for cures which he performed by means of Indian remedies, he set out on a hunting expedition, during which he collected a large quantity of furs. These he sold to a Yankee, for 650 dollars, as he supposed, but, being ignorant on the subject of money, he found, on having the cash counted, that it was only 22 dollars!
This took place at Maxwell's fort, on the White river. Disgusted with the white people, by this act of plunder, he determined to quit them forever, and set off again to join the Indians. He was, however, diverted from his purpose, and went with a hunting party up the west fork of the river St. Francis. spending the season here, he returned, and making his way down the Mississippi, sold his furs for 1100 dollars. Thence he proceeded as a boatman to New Orleans, where his mind was greatly astonished at the scenes he beheld, the streets, the houses, the wharves, ships, &c.
He retraced his steps, and came to Cape Girardeau, in Missouri, where he remained some time, acquiring the rudiments of the English language. His acquaintances had given him the name of Hunter, because of his expertness and success in the chase. His Christian name was adopted, as he says in his book, from the following circumstance. "As Mr. John Dunn, a gentleman of high respectability, of Cape Girardeau county, state of Missouri, had treated me in every respect more like a brother or a son than any other individual had, since my association with the white people, I adopted his for that of my distinctive, and have since been known by the name of John Dunn Hunter." It is important for the reader to mark this passage, for important results afterward turned upon it.
He now spent two or three years, a part of the time at school, making, however, several expeditions to New Orleans, to dispose of furs he had either taken in hunting or obtained by purchase. At last, in the autumn of 1821, he crossed the Alleghenies, and entered upon a new career. So far, his story is told by himself, in his book, which we shall notice hereafter.
On his way, Hunter paid a visit to Mr. Jefferson, who received him kindly, and, taking a strong interest in his welfare, gave him letters of introduction to several persons at Washington. Hunter went thither, and, passing on, came to Philadelphia, and at last to New York, everywhere exciting a lively interest, by the remarkable character of his story, and the manner in which he related it. He was found to be well-informed as to many things, then little known, respecting the western country; he was, accordingly, much sought after, patronized and flattered, especially by persons distinguished for science and wealth. He was, in short, a lion. The project was soon suggested, that he should write a book, detailing his adventures, and giving an account of the Indians, and the Indian country, as far as he was acquainted with these subjects. A subscription was started, and readily filled with a long list of great names. The book was written by Mr. Edward Clark, and, in 1823, it was published, under the title of "Manners and Customs of the several Indian Tribes located west of the Mississippi, &c."
This work, written in a clever style, detailed the wonderful life and adventures of the hero, and gave a view of the Far West--the country, the animals, the plants; and it described the Indian tribes, their numbers, character, customs, &c. It also gave an account of their system of medicine, and their practice of surgery. The book was well received, and Hunter was borne along upon the full tide of public favor.
And now, another view was opened to him. It was suggested that he should go to England, and publish his work there. Taking letters from several men of the highest standing, and especially one to the Duke of Sussex, from Mr. Jefferson, as we are informed, he crossed the Atlantic, and made his appearance in the great metropolis. The career upon which he now entered, affords a curious piece of history.
Hunter's letters, of course, secured him the favor and kind offices of some of the leading men in London. His book was immediately published and heralded forth by the press, as one of the most remarkable productions of the day. The information it contained was treated as a revelation of the most interesting facts, and the tale of the hero was regarded as surpassing that of Robinson Crusoe, in point of interest. Hunter was a man of extraordinary endowments, and sustained the part he had to play with wonderful consistency. But all this would hardly account for his success, without considering another point.
In London, as well among the high as the low, there is a yearning desire for excitement. Imprisoned in a vast city, and denied companionship with the thousand objects which occupy the mind and heart in the country, they go about crying, "Who will show us any new thing?" Thus it is, that, in a crowded street, there is always a mob ready to collect, like vultures to the carcass, around every accident or incident that may happen: and these seem to consist of persons who have no profession but to see what is going on.
In high life, this passion for novelty is more refined, but it is equally craving. There are thousands in the circles of rank and fashion, who, having no business to occupy them, no cares, no sources of hope and fear, are like travelers athirst in a desert; and to them, a new scandal, a new fashion, a late joke, a strange animal, a queer monster, is an oasis, greatly to be coveted. One quality this novelty must have; it must, in some way or other, belong to "good society"--my Lord, or my Lady, must have a finger in it: they must, at least, patronize it, so that in naming it, the idea of rank may be associated with it.
Such a new thing was John Dunn Hunter. He was, supposing his story to be true, remarkable for his adventures. There was something exceedingly captivating to the fancy in the idea of a white man, who had lived so long with savages, as to have been transformed into a savage himself: beside, there was a mystery about him. Who was his father?--who his mother? What a tale of romance lay in these pregnant inquiries, and what a beautiful development might yet be in the womb of time!
Nor was this all: Hunter, as we have said, was a man of talent. Though small and mean in his personal appearance, his manner was remarkable, and his demeanor befitted his story. He had taken lodgings in Warwick street, and occupied the very rooms which Washington Irving had once inhabited. Another American author, of no mean fame, was his fellow-lodger. He held free intercourse with all Americans who came to London. He sought their society, and, in the height of his power, he loved to exercise it in their behalf, and to their advantage.
In dress, Hunter adopted the simplest garb of a gentleman; in conversation, he was peculiar. He said little till excited; he then spoke rapidly, and often as if delivering an oration. He was accustomed to inveigh against civilized society,--its luxuries and its vices,--and to paint in glowing hues the pleasures and virtues of savage life. He was very ingenious, and often truly eloquent. It was impossible, believing in the genuineness of his character and the sincerity of his motives, not to be touched by his wild enthusiasm.
It is easy to see, that such a man, unsuspected, introduced into society by the brother of the king, and patronized by the heads of the learned societies--launched upon the full tide of fashionable society, in the world's metropolis,--had a brilliant voyage before him. During the winter of 1823-4, Hunter was the lion of the patrician circles of London. There was a real strife among countesses, duchesses, and the like, to signalize their parties by the presence of this interesting wonder. In considering whether to go to a ball, a soiree, or a jam, the deciding point of inquiry was, "Will Hunter be there?"--If so, "Yes."--If not, "No!"
Nothing could be more curious than to see this singular man, in the midst of a gorgeous party, where diamonds flashed and titles hung on every individual around him. He seemed totally indifferent to the scene; or, at least, unobservant of the splendors that encircled him. He was the special object of regard to the ladies. There was something quite piquant in his indifference. He seemed not to acknowledge the flatteries, that fell like showers of roses, and that too from the ruby lips and lustrous eyes of princes' daughters, thick upon him. He seldom sat down: he stood erect, and, even when encircled by ladies, gazed a little upward, and over them. He often answered a question without looking at the querist. Sometimes, though quite rarely, he was roused, and delivered a kind of speech. It was a great thing, if the oracle would but hold forth! The lass or lady who chanced to hear this, was but too happy. The burden of the oration was always nearly the same:--the advantages of simple savage life over civilization. It was strange to see those who were living on the pinnacle of artificial society, intoxicated with such a theme; yet, such was the art of the juggler, that even their fancy was captivated. Those who had been bred in the downy lap of luxury, were charmed with tales of the hardy chase and deadly encounter; those to whom the artifices of dress constituted more than half the pleasures of existence, delighted to dwell upon the simplicity of forest attire: those who gloried in the splendors of a city mansion,--halls, boudoirs, saloons, and conservatories,--thought how charming it would be to dwell beneath the wide canopy, or a deer-skin tent! Surely, such triumphs display the skill and power of a master.
During the winter of which we speak, Hunter's card-rack was crowded with cards, notes, and invitations, from lords and ladies of the very highest rank and fashion, in London. Many a fair hand indited and sent billets to him, that would have turned some loftier heads than his. On one occasion, by some accident, he had dislocated his shoulder. The next morning, Dr. Petingale, surgeon to the Duke of Sussex, called to see him, by command of his Grace, and delivered to him a long note of consolation. This note, from his Royal Highness, was somewhat in the style of Hannah More, and kindly suggested all the topics of comfort proper to such an hour of tribulation.
Hunter did not spend his whole time in fashionable dissipation. He visited the various institutions of London, and often with persons of the highest rank. He fell in with Robert Owen, of Lanarck, who had not yet been pronounced mad, and the two characters seemed greatly delighted with each other. Hunter seemed interested in the subject of education, and made this a frequent topic of discussion. He visited the infant school of Wilderspin, consisting of two hundred scholars, all of the lower classes. When he heard forty of these children, under three years of age, unite in singing "God save the King," his heart was evidently touched, and the tears gathered in his eyes. It is not one of the least curious facts in his history, that he patronized his countrymen, and was the means of establishing a portrait painter from Kentucky, in his profession. He induced the Duke of Sussex, with whom he regularly dined once a week, to sit for him: the portrait was exhibited at Somerset House, and our artist was at once famous.
Hunter now took a tour to Scotland. In his way, he spent some weeks with Mr. Coke, of Norfolk, and experienced the noble hospitalities of that truly noble gentleman. He passed on to Scotland, where he excited a deep interest among such persons as the Duke of Hamilton, Sir Walter Scott, Mr. Jeffrey, and others of the highest eminence. The ladies, also, manifested the very liveliest sensations in his behalf.
During his stay in Scotland, he was invited to spend a few days at a charming seat, in the vicinity of Edinburgh. Thither he went. One day, as he was walking in the park with a fair lady, daughter of the proprietor, they came to an open space, through which a bright stream was running. At a particular point, and near the path of the ramblers, was a large rock, at the base of which the rivulet swept round, forming a small eddying pool. Over this the wild shrubs had gathered, growing luxuriously, as if escaped from the restraints of culture. Hunter paused, folded his arms, and gazed at the picturesque group of rock, shrub, and stream. The lady looked at him with interest. She hesitated, then gathered courage, and asked what it was that so moved him.
"Nothing! nothing!" said he, half starting, and passing on. "Nay, nay,' said the fair one, "you must tell me." "Well, if I must," was the reply, "I must. You may think it foolish, yet such is the truth,--that little pool, gathered in the shelter of the rock and briar, reminds me of early days--of my childhood, and the forest. Past memories come over my bosom, like summer upon the snow; I think how I have often stooped at such a stream as this, and quenched my thirst, with a relish nothing can now bestow. I feel an emotion I can hardly resist; it seems to call me from these scenes, this voluptuous, yet idle life. I have a sense of wrong, of duty neglected, of happiness missed, which makes me sad even in such a place as this, and with society like yours."
By this time Hunter had framed a design, either real or pretended, of doing some great thing for the Indians. He insisted that the attempt to civilize them at once, was idle and fallacious; he proposed, therefore, to select some spot along the banks of the Wabash, and which he represented as a wild kind of paradise, and here he would gather the Indians, and, adopting a system which might blend the life of the hunter with that of the cultivator, wile them gradually, and without shocking their prejudices, into civilization. This scheme he set forth as the great object of his wishes. He spoke of it frequently, and in Edinburgh, especially, delighted his hearers with his enthusiastic eloquence in dilating upon the subject. No one suspected his sincerity, and the greatest men in Scotland avowed and felt the deepest interest in his project.
The summer came, and Hunter went back to London. He now announced his intention to return to America: still, he lingered for several months. His friends noticed that he was dejected, yet he assigned no cause for this. Presents were made to him, and hints of assistance, to further his scheme of Indian civilization, were suggested. He availed himself of none of these advantages, save that he accepted a watch, richly jeweled, from the Duke of Sussex, and a splendid set of mathematical instruments, from Mr. Coke, of Norfolk. He also borrowed a hundred pounds of a friend. He took his farewell of London, and bearing with him the best wishes of all who had known him on that side of the Atlantic, he embarked at Liverpool for America.
Immediately after his arrival, he hastened to the south, spent a few days at New Orleans, and pushed into the wilds bordering upon Texas. In some way, he excited the jealousy of the Indians, who resolved to take his life. On a journey through the wilderness, he was attended by an Indian guide. Having occasion to pass a river, he stopped a moment in the middle of it, to let his horse drink. The guide was behind: obedient to his orders, he lifted his carbine, and shot Hunter through the back. He fell, a lifeless corpse, into the stream, and was borne away, as little heeded as a forest leaf.
Such are the facts, as we have been able to gather them, in respect to this remarkable man. The writer of this article saw him in London, and the incidents related of him while he was in England and Scotland, are stated upon personal knowledge. The events subsequent to his departure are derived from current rumor. The question has often been asked, What was the real character of John Dunn Hunter? That he was, to some extent, an imposter, can hardly be doubted. Mr. Duponceau, of Philadelphia examined into some Indian words which Hunter had given him, and found them to be fabrications. Mr. John Dunn, of Missouri, mentioned by Hunter as his friend and benefactor, was written to, and he declared that he had known no such person. These facts, with others, were laid before the public in the North American Review, and were regarded as fatal to the character of Hunter. The common judgment has been that he was wholly an imposter; we incline, however, to a different opinion.
We believe that the story of his early life, was, in the main, correct;* that he did not originally intend any deception; that he came to New York with honest intentions, but that the flatteries he received led him by degrees to expand his views, and finally drew him into a deliberate career of fraud. So long as he was in the tide of prosperity abroad, he did not seem to reflect, and glided down contented with the stream: when the time came that he must return, his real situation presented itself, and weighed upon his spirits. It is to be remarked, however, that, even in this condition, he availed himself of no opportunities to amass money, which he might have done to the amount of thousands. These facts, at war with the supposition that he was a mere imposter, seem to show that he had still some principle of honor left, and some hope as to his future career. At all events, he was a man of extraordinary address, and his story shows how high a course of duplicity may elevate a man yet only to hurl him down the farther and the more fatally, upon the sharp rocks of retribution. We have been informed that Mr. Catlin, in his excursions among the western Indians, often met with tribes who had known Hunter, and their accounts corroborated that which the latter gave in his book.”
JOHN DUNN HUNTER, by Samuel Goodrich (from Curiosities of Human Nature. Boston: Rand and Mann, 1849 , pp. 236-253)
Peter Samuel Davenport (1764–1824), pioneer merchant and quartermaster to filibustering expeditions, son of William and Ann (Davidson) Davenport, was born on February 4, 1764, at Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. In 1780, after the death of his parents, he left Pennsylvania and traveled to Louisiana; he survived an Indian attack on the way. He settled near Natchitoches where he "engaged in commerce," working for well-known firms and for himself. In 1798 Davenport entered into partnership with William Barr, Luther Smith, and Edward Murphy under the name House of Barr and Davenport, and the firm soon secured a monopoly on trade with all Texas Indians from the Spanish government. Davenport became the local agent for the business and in time established his headquarters in the Old Stone Fort in Nacogdoches. In 1810, as the sole surviving partner, he continued to operate the enterprise on his own and became independently wealthy.
Davenport went back to Natchitoches Parish in 1802, where he married Marie Louise Gagnon. They had four children. A son, Juan Benigno, married Jane Beall Edwards, daughter of empresario Haden Edwards, on November 12, 1829. When the reached Nacogdoches in 1812, Davenport joined forces with the filibusters, furnished them with great quantities of arms and ammunition, assisted Capt. James Gaines in raising a group of volunteers from east of the Trinity River, and marched with them toward San Antonio. Before reaching San Antonio, he became captain of a company of volunteers who participated in the capture of La Bahía, whereupon he returned to Nacogdoches to obtain more supplies.
After the collapse of the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition in 1813, Davenport, now a fugitive from Spanish authorities with a price on his head, fled across the Sabine River into Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. There he established himself on a luxurious plantation called Grand Ecore, where he remained until 1819, when he enlisted in James Long's expedition into Texas. Before the failure of Long's filibustering effort, Davenport furnished supplies to the expedition's forces and served as a member of the governing council of Long's republic. He then returned to Grand Ecore. On a visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas, for his failing health, Davenport died, on October 19, 1824. His body was returned to Natchitoches Parish and buried in the Russell Cemetery at Grand Ecore. At his death he owned some 50,000 acres of land in eastern Texas and western Louisiana, forty-one slaves, and a great number of cattle, horses, and other livestock. His wife had died on February 27, 1812, in Nacogdoches and was buried there.
John Marie Durst, (1797–1851) early East Texas merchant and patriot, sometimes called the Paul Revere of the Texas Revolution, was born on February 4, 1797, at Arkansas Post, Arkansas, the son of Jacob and Anna Agnes (Schesser) Durst. Two years later his mother died, leaving Jacob Durst with eight children to raise. In 1803 the family moved to Natchitoches, Louisiana; then in 1806 Jacob and three of his sons, including John M., went to Texas. John, only nine years of age, was taken into the home of his godfather, P. Samuel Davenport, a prominent Nacogdoches merchant who was appointed his guardian after his father's death in 1814. Davenport taught Durst to manage a mercantile firm and to speak several languages, especially Spanish and Cherokee. After the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition, Durst accompanied his exiled godfather to Natchitoches. Soon thereafter, at the age of seventeen, he volunteered for military service in the Second Louisiana Division. He participated in the last years of the War of 1812 (1814–15) and returned to Natchitoches at its end. While living in Natchitoches, Durst became acquainted with Maj. John Jamison, the Indian agent at Fort Jesup, and on February 15, 1821, he married Jamison's young daughter, Harriet Matilda. They had twelve children, six of whom survived to adulthood. They employed John H. Reagan as a tutor for four years. In his will, dated 1824, Samuel Davenport bequeathed 10,000 acres of land in western Louisiana to Durst. In November 1829 as the result of an agreement with Davenport's son Juan Benigno, Durst acquired all Davenport's land titles west of the Sabine River in exchange for Durst's land titles east of the river. In April 1834 Durst received a Mexican land grant of five leagues in Houston, Nacogdoches, and Anderson counties. By 1837 the tax roll for Nacogdoches County listed him as the owner of 36,200 acres of Texas land.
By 1829 he had returned to Nacogdoches, where he established a mercantile business, became active in local politics, and was in great demand as an interpreter of Spanish, French, German, and a number of Indian languages. From 1829 until July 1834 he and his family lived in the Old Stone Fort. In 1832 he took part in the battle of Nacogdoches. Durst served as an interpreter for the Mexican government in its negotiations with the Indians. In 1834 he moved to his San Patricio grant on the Angelina River, where he laid out the town of Mount Sterling.
In 1835 Durst was serving as a Texas representative in the legislature of the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas. While there he learned from Mexican friends of the impending movement into Texas of the forces of Antonio López de Santa Anna. Thereupon Durst rode 960 miles to warn the people of Texas. The ride earned him his Paul Revere sobriquet. During the revolution Durst commanded a company on the east bank of the Angelina River and reported the activities of Col. Galerno Cruz below Nacogdoches. Durst was also captain of a company operating with Thomas J. Rusk against the Kickapoo Indians and against Chief Bowles and the Cherokees. In 1844 he moved to Sterling C. Robertson's colony in what later became Leon County, where he bought land near Leon Prairie. In 1846 he was an agent to receive government supplies for United States troops en route to Mexico. Durst died in Galveston on February 9, 1851, while attending a session of the Texas Supreme Court. He was buried in the family cemetery on his homestead near Leona in Leon County. His wife died in Leon County on September 23, 1885, and was also buried in the family cemetery. In 1936 the state of Texas erected a monument to John M. and Harriet Matilda Durst in the family cemetery in Leon County.
Adolphus Sterne (1801–1852), colonist, financier of the Texas Revolution, merchant, and legislator, the eldest son of Emmanuel Sterne and his second wife, Helen, was born on April 5, 1801, in Cologne, although Alsace is also claimed as his birthplace. The elder Sterne was an Orthodox Jew, and Helen Sterne was a Lutheran. Sterne grew up amid turmoil. At sixteen he was working in a passport office when he learned that he was going to be conscripted for military service, forged a passport for himself, and immigrated to the United States. He landed in New Orleans in 1817, found mercantile employment, and studied law. Although he never practiced law in Texas, he acted as a land agent and primary judge in Nacogdoches. While still in New Orleans, Sterne joined the Masonic lodge, including the Scottish Rite, an affiliation of great importance to him in later years. In the early 1820s he began an itinerant peddling trade in the country north of New Orleans. He used that city as a base of operations from which he ranged as far north as Nashville, Tennessee, where he met Sam Houston. The two formed a lasting relationship, which they renewed after Sterne established a mercantile house in Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1826. (Houston arrived in Texas six years later.) Because Sterne had visited Nacogdoches in 1824, some have fixed that year as the date of his arrival in Texas. Soon after moving to Nacogdoches, Sterne became involved with the Fredonian Rebellion. In spite of the pledges of loyalty required for his immigration, Sterne assisted Haden Edwards and other immigrants in their resistance to the Mexican government. He smuggled guns and other materials in barrels of coffee. Spies in New Orleans alerted Nacogdoches authorities to these activities, and Sterne was arrested, tried for treason, and sentenced to be shot. While his case was reviewed in San Antonio and Saltillo, he was incarcerated in the Old Stone Fort. Because his guards were also Masons, however, he came and went as he pleased and eventually was released on the promise that he would never again take up arms against the government. Sterne adhered to the letter of this promise but not to its spirit; he assisted the Texans in the battle of Nacogdoches in 1832 and financed two companies of troops during the Texas Revolution, but did not personally again shoulder arms against the government.
Frequent business trips to New Orleans via Natchitoches, Louisiana, brought him into contact with Placide Bossier, a prominent businessman of the region. Sterne met his future wife, Eva Catherine Rosine Ruff, on one of these visits. She was born on June 23, 1809, in Württemberg and had immigrated to Louisiana with her family in 1815. Both her parents died in a yellow fever epidemic soon afterward, and the Ruff children found a haven in the Bossier home. With the assistance of the requirements of Mexican law, Eva succeeded in converting Sterne officially to the Catholic faith, although unofficially he remained a deist. They were married on June 2, 1828. Sterne built their home on the eastern edge of Nacogdoches near the confluence of La Nana Bayou and Bonita Creek and developed it into a seat of hospitality for the leaders of the area. Seven children were born to them there. Houston was one of many important guests in the Sternes' home. He boarded with them when he first arrived in Texas and was baptized a Catholic in their parlor. Mrs. Sterne served as Houston's godmother, but Sterne did not serve as his godfather because the date coincided with Yom Kippur.
Sterne strongly supported the movement for Texas independence. He traveled to New Orleans in 1835 as a special agent of the provisional government and personally raised and financed two companies known as the New Orleans Greys, commanded by Thomas H. Breece and Robert C. Morris. He preceded Breece's unit to Texas and arranged for a gala welcoming banquet when they reached Nacogdoches. Sterne later claimed $950 against the republic's treasury for his recruiting expenses. He supported most of Houston's programs during the period of the republic except his benevolent Indian policy. Sterne commanded a company of militia in the battle of the Neches, July 16, 1839, and helped expel the Cherokees from East Texas.
On February 19, 1840, Sterne became postmaster at Nacogdoches. He served as deputy clerk and associate justice of the county court. In 1841 he became a justice of the peace. He was deputy clerk of the board of land commissioners and commissioner of roads and revenues for Nacogdoches County. He served as a member of the board of health and was overseer of streets for the corporation of Nacogdoches. In 1847 he won election to represent Nacogdoches in the House of Representatives of the Second Legislature. He continued during the Third Legislature, and in 1851 advanced to the Senate of the Fourth Legislature.
Sterne was a member of many private organizations, especially Masonic ones. He enjoyed dancing and an occasional drink and was fond of playing whist. Though he shared some of the faults of his day, including the keeping of slaves, he was an honest man. From September 28, 1840, to November 18, 1851, Sterne kept a diary of his daily activities, which is a valuable source of information on the period of the republic. He owned a substantial amount of land, estimated from 1840 census records at 16,000 acres, although he always complained in his diary of not having enough "monay." Though self-educated, he served as official interpreter in English, French, Spanish, German, Yiddish, Portuguese, and Latin. He died in New Orleans while on a business trip on March 27, 1852. He was briefly interred there and later reburied in Oak Grove Cemetery, Nacogdoches.
Archie P. McDonald, "STERNE, NICHOLAS ADOLPHUS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fst45), accessed January 19, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
On April 19 1836, General Sam Houston addressed his troops, "This morning we are in preparation to meet Santa Anna. It is the only chance of saving Texas. From time to time I have looked for reinforcements in vain: We will only have about 700 men to march with besides the camp guard. We go to conquer. It is wisdom growing out of necessity to meet the enemy. Now every consideration enforces it. The troops are in fine spirits and now is the time for action. We shall use our best efforts to fight the enemy to such advantage as will insure victory though the odds, are greatly against us.
"I leave the result in the hands of a wise God, and rely upon his providence. My country will do justice
to those who serve her. The rights for which we fight will be secure and Texas Free!"
After those words Sam Houston and his small Texas army retreated eastward ahead of the Mexican army. Avowing to avenge the cold-blooded murder of their countrymen at the Alamo and Goliad, his troops were becoming increasingly impatient and wanted to stop and fight. However, against popular opinion and almost everyone else's wishes, Houston had a plan. He marched his men down Buffalo Bayou to within a half a mile of it joined the San Jacinto River. Here, the army prepared their defenses on the edge of a grove of trees. Their rear was protected by timber and the bayou, while before them was an open prairie. While retreating General Houston, had maneuvered his men into the positions he desired and allowed Santa Anna to pursue them right into the jaws of a very clever trap.
The following morning about 10 a.m. on April 20, 1836, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna came marching across the prairie in battle array. A volley from the Texan's "Twin Sisters" artillery brought him to a sudden halt. Falling back to a clump of trees a quarter of a mile distant, Santa Anna formed in line of battle. Colonel Sidney Sherman, at the head of the Texas cavalry, charged the Mexican army, but accomplished little except to inspire the Texans with fresh enthusiasm for the following day. The first shot of San Jacinto had been fired. It had only been a skirmish but Houston was satisfied with the results. The fate of Texas hung in the balance and the weight of justice was on the side of Texas
The 21st of April dawned bright and beautiful. The main forces of the Texas army were there, totaling about 750 men. They faced over 1500 of the enemy. The Mexican soldiers felt very secure and full of pride after massacring the Texas army at the Alamo and Goliad, then burning towns and killing Texans on there way east during the previous few weeks.
Early that morning, Houston sent Deaf Smith, with two or three men, to destroy Vince's bridge over which the Mexican army had passed, thus cutting off their only available escape.
General Houston held off his attack until about four o'clock that afternoon. Not only would the western sun be shining directly in the enemy's face, but most of the officers were having their afternoon siesta. General Santa Anna was in his tent with Emily West, who was a pretty, intelligent sophisticated mulatto slave girl he had picked up along the route. She was later known as the yellow rose of Texas, for keeping the general's mind off the Texans. The Mexican soldiers had began preparing their evening meal and the enemy was completely surprised. Rallying to the cry "Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!" and determined to emerge victorious, the Texas army rushed forward with relentless fury upon the breastworks of the Mexicans. At the head of the center column rode General Houston.
The Mexican army was drawn up in perfect order, but the Texans rushed on without firing. As they approached the breastworks, the Mexicans greeted them with a stream of bullets, which however, went over their heads. Houston was badly wounded, but the Texans rushed forward. Each man reserved his fire until he could choose his target, then before the Mexicans could reload, the Texans discharged their rifles into their very breasts. Without bayonets, the Texans converted their rifles into war clubs. A desperate hand-to-hand struggle all along the breastworks took place.
When the Texans had, by smashing in the skulls of the Mexicans, broken off their rifles at the breech, they flung the remains at the enemy, and drawing their pistols, continued the slaughter. When their pistols were emptied they drew their bowie knives and continued to fight until victory. Twenty minutes after the initial charge the battle was over and 630 Mexicans were dead, 208 wounded and 730 had been taken as prisoners. Only three Texans lost their lives in the fight, 34 were wounded, six mortally. The battle for Texas was won.
The story of Santa Anna's capture was best told by Captain Creed Taylor, one of the DeWitt Colonist who fought in the Texas army from Gonzales to San Jacinto, became a Texas Ranger and later fought in the Mexican War with Zachary Taylor.
"The scouting party was led by Col. Sgt. James A. Sylvester, the gallant young man who bore the "Liberty or Death" flag through the Battle of San Jacinto, the only flag flown on the field by the Texans that day. His men were Joel W. Robinson, A. H. Miles, Charles P. Thompson, Joseph Vermillion, and Sion R. Bostick.
General Santa Anna was discovered crouching in the tall grass along a small hollow. He was first sighted by Jim Sylvester who suddenly rode upon the fugitive. The General had on a corporal's uniform and was barefooted. Sylvester signaled his men who were scattered as far as four or five hundred yards away. They came dashing up flourishing their guns and Santa Anna became excited. At that moment that he gave the Masonic sign of distress. Sylvester and Robinson were both Masons and understood the signs, which undoubtedly was the reason the general was not killed on the spot.
The captive was ordered to march ahead on foot toward the camp, but soon be stopped and declared that because of his bare blistered feet he could go no further. Whereupon Miles drew his gun and threatened to fire if he didn't "step along lively." They proceeded some half a mile when the prisoner suddenly stopped and said: "Señor, I cannot walk barefooted any further, even though you kill me." Several of the boys leveled their guns and were ready to shoot, when Robinson spoke up, saying, "Don't kill the poor fellow." He then reached down, took the hand of the prisoner and said, "Get up behind me." As the party approached General Houston's headquarters, which was under a large live-oak tree, I hailed Bostick and asked: "Si! Who have you got there?" "Don't know Creed, but we think he's a big buck." This was only a few paces from the "dead line" where the Mexican prisoners were being guarded. No sooner had Bostick spoken than I saw several of the prisoners salute and heard them say, "Es el Presidente! Es nuestro General!" (It is the President! It is our general!). Hearing this I hastened to headquarters and I saw and heard everything that occurred in that great moment of our country's history. On reaching headquarters the captive quickly slid down from the horse and was immediately led to Houston. General Almonte was the first man to approach him and at once introduced him to General Houston, who, owing to his wound, did not rise to his feet, but did rise to a sitting posture and very cordially extended his hand which Santa Anna grasped as if it were that of an old friend. I could not see that Santa Anna was unduly excited, though he appeared quite serious. He bore himself with an air of a fearless---I might say, defiant-man, although at that moment the boys, with fury depicted in their faces, were gathering from every quarter and it was with an effort that the guards held them back.
I cannot recall all the conversation between the two generals; but that interview is of record, and a matter of familiar history. I do remember that Santa Anna did not appear "shaky," nor did he ask for an opiate. Meanwhile the crowd continued to gather, and threats, in an undertone, were heard on every side, and I believe that Santa Anna's being a Free Mason was all that saved him on that day. Houston, Sherman, and many others of our officers were Masons and while a number of them doubtless favored the execution of the red-banded monster, yet they were bound to observe their Masonic obligations. I offer this, however, as my opinion and this idea prevailed generally among the men. Comrade Bostick stood near Santa Anna, as if still guarding the captive, watching every movement and listening attentively to all that was said.
"Something seemed to give Santa Anna confidence all at once," said Bostick, and I know now what it was. He and Houston were both Free Masons, and the prisoner made the sign of distress, which Houston, as a Mason, heeded. I was told that at the time by one of our men, who was a Mason also, and I am now certain it was the strong tie of fraternal brotherhood that saved Santa Anna's life." -Captain Creed Taylor
The Washington Monument is not the only Masonic obelisk in the United States of America. Texas has the grand San Jacinto Monument, which is actually 15 feet taller than the Washington Monument and said to be the world’s tallest memorial column at 570 feet. Every year in April the people of Texas, many of them Masons, gather at the foot of the San Jacinto Monument near Houston to celebrate the Texas victory at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, which established independence for Texas.
Many Masons assumed leadership roles and were active in the birth of The Republic of Texas, such as: Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, William B. Travis, James Bowie, David Crockett, James Bonham, Ben Milam, David G. Burnet, James Fannin, Mirabeau B. Lamar, Anson Jones, Lorenzo de Zavala, Edward Burleson, Thomas Rusk, Juan Seguin and some of the less “famous” names mentioned in this article.
One of the eight inscriptions on the exterior base of the San Jacinto Monument reads: "Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty."
Indeed. Secrets are secrets. Shhh.... Societies of men with secrets make it difficult for the average person to understand history. Harpocrates himself was a planned combination of Egyptian and Hellenic Gods adapted for a purpose. The unschooled, while saving themselves from the confusion of official approved versions of things written by tethered minions, simply look for tracks in the sand, mud, dirt or snow and draw their own conclusions. Most of the time they are kept busy just moving around the chessboard.
The story of the Texas Cherokees, like so many other stories is one of two kinds of men. One type who simply accept that they have life and set about living it in freedom without designing to control others or to ride on their backs and another type who remain in the background, comfortably in control of all that is malleable with an ambition to dominate all that moves. It is the oldest story and it is the only story.
Copyright © 2019 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.