Richard Ellis was again elected to the Texas Senate. His son, who lived with him in Pecan Point, Texas, was elected to the Arkansas Legislature representing Miller County Arkansas. This was a result of a dispute regarding the boundary line between Texas and Arkansas. Miller County, Arkansas is located west of the Red River. For a time the county seat of Miller County, Arkansas was Pecan Point. Pecan Point was very near where Hooks, Texas is today in Bowie County.
In the legislative session of 1837, the Consular Service for the Republic of Texas was established. Texas appointed consuls in many cities in the United States and around the world, including Dublin, Ireland and Glasglow, Scotland.
Houston quickly became the republic's largest city. In April of 1837, the population was 1500, by the end of the year it was 2000. A ship owned by the Allen brothers, the Laura, in 1837 was the first ocean going vessel to navigate up Buffalo Bayou from the Gulf of Mexico to Houston. Soon 50 steamboats plied Buffalo Bayou to bring their goods to Houston, making regular stops at Allen's Landing, Houston's dock. The first marriage in Houston was between Hugh McCrory and Mary Smith. He was a successful merchantman and one of the first city alderman.
The first mayor of Houston was an Irishman, Doctor Francis Moore, Jr.. He served three terms.
< Doctor Francis Moore, Jr., first mayor of Houston
The fine arts were in Houston early, and with them came Irish performers. There were at least two theaters that offered entertainment from a stage. In 1839, Henry James Finn drew crowds at the Houston Theater. The New Theater featured the acting of John R. Scott and Charles H. Eaton in Othello. Joseph Burke, "The Irish Roscius", played in two plays in Houston; "The Irish Ambassador", and "The Irish Tutor". He played these roles previously to high acclaim in New York, and Europe.
Robert McCuistion was a successful merchant who gave Sam Houston a wooden keg full of gold coins to help fund the new republic. The keg of coins had been in his family for more than 100 years and dated back to when the family was still in Scotland. For more details on Robert McCuistion and his family go to this link >
Lydia Ann McHenry, in 1837, founded the first formal school in the republic, The Monteville Boarding School.
John S. Roberts, one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence, opened a saloon in the Old Stone Fort at Nacogdoches. After his death the property passed to his wife and then to Lycurgus S. Roberts.
The first official meeting of the Brazoria Mason's lodge, after receiving verbal dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, was in December, 1835. James Fannin was among the members who attended the last meeting of the Holland Lodge in Brazoria in February of 1836. Before the Holland Lodge received its formal charter, lodge activities were suspended due to the war. The events of the Texas Revolution scattered the members of the lodge. The charter was placed in the hands of Irishman John M. Allen just before the Battle of San Jacinto, he gave it to Anson Jones. After San Jacinto, Anson Jones brought the charter of that lodge to Houston where it was re-established. Another lodge, the Milam Lodge was chartered in Nacogdoches. A third lodge was chartered in Texas because an Irish Mason was almost shot in Mexico.
John Gillespie, who was born in Ireland, was in a Mexican jail awaiting his execution. He was tried and condemned to death sometime in the mid-1830's. When the time came for his execution he was marched to a grave that was already dug for him and asked to kneel at its edge. This was so he would fall into the grave after he was shot. As he knelt and received a blindfold, he gave the significant signal of a Mason in distress. The officer in charge of the firing squad recognized the signal. A Mason himself, he arranged for the execution to be stayed and furnished Gillespie a purse of thirty dollars to leave the country.
John Gillespie arrived in Texas and settled in San Augustine after the revolution. Understandably he worked hard to found a lodge there. On August 13, 1837, the McFarland Lodge of San Augustine, named after its first Worshipful Master was organized under the Grand Lodge of Louisiana.
In 1839, Doctor Henry Connelley led an exploration party through Texas to find a shorter trade route from Independence, Missouri to Chihuahua, Mexico.
The Texan prisoners from the Johnson and Grant men that were taken to Matamoros were ordered shot by Santa Anna. An American merchant in the city, Reuben Potter, petitioned the local authorities for a respite (granted all prisoners in Mexico under orders to be executed so that they may seek religious consultation). During the respite, Potter continued to seek postponement of the execution order. The women of the city signed a petition for their release. Potter eventually was able to get the local authorities to set a price for the release of the men. The price was $20,000 and was paid by mostly the American and European merchants in the city. Potter pointed out in his memoirs that several of the Mexican merchants also contributed. The whole deal was almost called off when three of the prisoners escaped, Reuben R. Brown, Thomas Mitchell, and Neill. The Tejanos among the prisoners were released first and then the rest which included: P. Jenks Mahan, Nelson Jones, Bryan, and a man named Carr.
After San Jacinto, the Texas Navy consisted of four ships: the Liberty, the Invincible, the Brutus, and the Pocket. In May of 1836, the Liberty, showing the precariousness of available funds to the republic, was seized and sold by its creditors. The other three were put in for needed repairs. The Mexican Navy took advantage of the situation and began a blockade of Galveston and other Texas ports. At one point things became so bad that the United States Consul at Matamoros asked for U.S Navy assistance. The U.S. sloop-of-war, Natchez, was dispatched to make a show. The ship did more than that; it engaged all three Mexican brigs involved in the blockade, capturing one of them. As an example of how delicate relations between all parties were at this time, the United States ordered the Mexican brig returned and formally apologized to Mexico for the interference.
In April, 1837, the Minister from Texas to the United States, Colonel William H. Wharton, decided to resign his post. After his resignation was accepted, he booked passage on a ship back to Texas. His ship was intercepted by the Mexican Navy. Wharton was captured and imprisoned in a Matamoros dungeon. Relations between Texas and Mexico were such that nothing could be done about it. Relations between Mexico and the United States were not much better, as the Mexicans felt the United States was a party to the Texas Revolution. It appeared Mr. Wharton would be incarcerated for a long, long time since there were no political or diplomatic channels open, and neither Texas or the United States wanted to risk military action. There then appeared a man, an Irishman, from Texas' recent past. Father Michael Muldoon, hearing of the situation, went to visit Wharton. On his second visit, Father Muldoon interceded on the captured man's behalf. He hid under his own priestly robe, another cassock, which he gave to Wharton. Muldoon took Wharton's place in the cell while Wharton made good his escape from the prison and back to Texas.
After the Texas Navy was released from dry dock, they sailed into the Gulf of Mexico. The Liberty was captured by the Mexican Navy, near the mouth of the Brazos River. The two remaining ships of the Texas Navy decided to take revenge on Mexican land targets. The Brutus, commanded by James D. Boylan, of Irish heritage; and the Invincible, commanded by H. L. Thompson, of Scottish heritage, first landed on Mujeres Island off Yucatán, and claimed it for Texas. They then ravaged the Yucatán coastline for many miles; they landed shore parties and scuttled ships in port and even attacked villages. They claimed Alacranes Island and engaged in an exchange of gunfire with the walled city of Campeche; and then sailed off into the Gulf and captured a number of small Mexican vessels. They burned most of them, the better prizes they sailed back to Texas, including a British merchant ship which had been trading with Mexico. In August of 1837 both ships were heading for Galveston. The Brutus had a prize, the Abispa, and went over the bar and into the harbor. The Invincible elected to stay outside the bar. It planned to go into the harbor the next day. The next day August 26, 1837, two Mexican warships started firing on the Invincible. The Brutus tried to go to her aid, but ran aground on the bar. The Invincible was destroyed by the Mexican ships. Two months later the Brutus was destroyed in a storm. Texas was without a navy.
Earlier, Sam Houston officially retired the Texas Army, and left defense matters to the Rangers and local militia. He did so to save the republic money, and to not provoke Mexico into an attack. Now, he extended that philosophy to the navy, by deciding to not replace the ships. The naval threat from Mexico had become as weak as the land threat. Mexico was having problems with France.
In 1838, the land fort at Vera Cruz was bombarded by French naval vessels. Almost the entire Mexican Navy was captured and seized by the French Navy. The French kept the Mexican warships. Thus Mexico, too, was without a navy.
The threat of Mexican military activity against Texas was not gone. There were several attempts mounted by different individuals in Mexico to keep Texas wary. Increased petty Mexican raids into Texas caused many problems in the border area. The Texas towns of Refugio, Goliad, Copano, San Patricio, and even San Antonio in December of 1837 felt the effects.
In May, 1837, General Filisola, Commander in Matamoros, sent Julian Pedro Miracle into Texas to contact Mexicans and Indians to prepare to attack the Texans in the Spring or Summer of 1838. Supplies including: powder, lead, and tobacco would be supplied by Mexico. Miracle had with him 72 Mexicans, 34 soldiers, and 20 Indians who were Cherokees and Caddoes. In June, they met Manuel Flores at the San Antonio River and on July 5 with Vicente Cordova at the Trinity River. Miracle also met with representatives of the Cherokee, Delaware, Shawnee, Kickapoo, Chickasaw, Caddoe, Waco, Kichai, and Tawakoni Indians.
Mexican bandits led by a De Los Santos attacked the Texas coast in 1838 and after robbing James Power's store in a new settlement called Aransas City, took him as a prisoner. Power was brought to Matamoros and kept a prisoner for five months. He was released on parole by General Woll.
In late 1838, General Urrea was preparing to lead a raid on Lipantitlan. His unit was ordered, instead, to Mier to disperse José María Gonzalez and a force of Tejanos. The Tejanos learned of Urrea's approach and escaped to Guerrero. Urrea chased them there. A short fight ensued. Urrea captured 24 Tejanos. He marched them to Matamoros. Urrea waited there for the right moment to execute his original plan. On February 27, at 3 AM Urrea was at San Patricio. He was discovered by a group of Texans. In the Battle of San Patricio, 1838, the Texans attacked and lost sixteen dead and 24 wounded. Urrea withdrew. As he withdrew the cold wind of a blue norther descended on and followed Urrea and his men. The Mexicans were still moving men from tropical latitudes (i.e. Yucatán) into Texas during the winter months without issuing them proper clothing. General Urrea lost more men who froze to death in the cold than he lost in the battle with the Texans.
INDIANS AND TEXAS AND TEXANS
While Sam Houston was successful in getting the Texas Congress to approve his savings of money by not maintaining an army or navy; he was not successful in obtaining certain concessions on behalf of the Indians in Texas. He was especially concerned with his old friends the Cherokees. While treaties were made with some tribes (Tonkawa, Lipan, Comanche, Keechi, Tawakoni, Waco and Tawekesh), Sam Houston could not get the Texas Congress to make a treaty with the Cherokees that recognized their land claims.
The Texas Senate of 1837-1838 refused to ratify Houston's treaty with the Cherokees because he negotiated that treaty for a provisonal government, not the elected government being asked to consider it. Further the legislature was aware many of the chiefs who signed the treaty with Houston, no longer represented the bands they signed for at the time of the treaty. For these reasons the Texas Legislature did not consider the treaty. This made the Cherokees insecure on their land.
The Cherokees were being exploited by the emissaries from Mexico, who were taking advantage of the Texans not fulfilling the treaty Houston and the others made in 1836. Houston for his part tried to show he was still trying. In October, 1838, Houston sent Alexander Horton to survey the Cherokee lands as outlined in the 1836 treaty. Houston had lived with the Indian on equal terms, he understood them and had a compassion for them. Houston still felt close to the Cherokees. His Cherokee wife, Tiana Rogers, made Houston moccasins. He wore them when convalescing from his ankle wound. Tiana Rogers died in 1838. While it is true she was with the Cherokees and considered Cherokee, it should be pointed out that Tiana Rogers, a relative of Irishman and humorist Will Rogers, was only one sixteenth Cherokee. The grand daughter of Irishman, Chief John Bowles, also made Houston some Indian moccasins, which he regularly wore as a respite from his boots.
T. J. Rusk, who was again Secretary of War, recommended to Houston a plan that would use Indians to provide a buffer between Mexico and Texas. Texas had shocked Mexico when it claimed the Rio Grande River as its southern most border, when as a province the border had always been the Nueces River. In truth the Nueces Strip, as the area between the two rivers was called, was an uninhabited wasteland. Only bandits, Mexican marauders, and Texas troublemakers used the area. Rusk suggested giving this land to the Creeks. The tribes of the Creek Nation, which were not then in Texas, had indicated an interest in participating in such an arrangement. In return for the land they would provide 5,000 braves to defend the border. Sam Houston met with the Chiefs of the Creeks, but nothing more came from the plan. Adding more Indians to Texas could not have been popular with Texans. Indians were still making daily life difficult all over Texas.
The Texas Congress reflected the view of most Texans, they did not like or trust Indians, they had no interest in supporting the idea.
In 1837, William Alexander Anderson Wallace, of Irish heritage, came to Texas with his rifle. He came for revenge. His brother, Samuel, was killed in the massacre at Goliad. William Wallace became one of the first settlers in La Grange, Texas. William Wallace went to Austin to find work. He went into a partnership with another Irishman, William Fox. Fox gave him the nickname by which he is best remembered, "Big-Foot". Wallace did not get the moniker because he had big feet. He wore a modest 9 1/2 shoe. The name first belonged to a Waco Indian because of his feet, which measured fourteen inches.
The Indian stood six foot, seven inches tall and was estimated to weigh over 300 pounds. The Waco Indian robbed a cabin, and then went to the cabin of Wallace and Fox. The next morning the owner of the first cabin that was robbed, tracked the trail to the Wallace-Fox Cabin. He called out the bigger man, Wallace, because of the size of the track. After some difficulty, Wallace was able to show the man it could not have been him, by stepping into the track. At that point Fox remarked "Now Wallace, when the big foot Indian is not around, we will call you, "Big Foot". Word got around and thus William Wallace was thereafter Big Foot Wallace. It is ironic that not long after this incident, the big foot Indian killed Fox.
< William "Big Foot" Wallace
While in Austin, Big Foot Wallace became engaged to marry Mary Jackson. However, after a bout with typhoid in which all of Wallace's hair fell out, Wallace told Miss Jackson the engagement was off. He is reported to have said he wasn't going to hold any woman to an agreement to marry him when he had a head like a hard boiled egg.
Big Foot Wallace had another chance for a wife. He was captured by Lipan Indians. They had him tied up and staked out by a fire. They began to pile brush and twigs around him when a Lipan squaw came up to Wallace with a blanket over her head. According to Lipan custom, she was claiming the captive as a husband to replace hers who was killed in battle. When all this was understood by Big Foot who was still all tied and staked, the squaw removed the blanket from her head, and turned toward Big Foot Wallace. Big Foot Wallace was said to have told the Lipans "...to light the fire." She must truly have been ugly, for the Indians let Wallace go.
J. C. Duval in Early Times in Texas, relates a story about the village of Victoria, Texas, where a lot of Irish settled:
The cry went up; Indians, Indians! We grabbed our guns, and ran to the edge of the village where there were a half dozen men standing with guns gazing into the distance. Eighty to a hundred mounted Indians were pursuing two men, which bystanders identified as Tim McGarity, and Pat O'Houlihan. In full view of the town and its onlooking citizens, McGarity's horse began to fail and the Indians overtook him, piercing him with arrows and lances. This bought some time for O'Houlihan, but only briefly, as the Indians began to gain.
The race, coming now into range, we ran out and fired at the Indians. They stopped and O'Houlihan got to safety.
On another occasion the Irishman was riding the faster horse; but the slower horse resulted in the rider being spared. It happened near Gonzales. Tucker Foley and a friend were riding when a band of Comanches began to chase them. Foley's friend, Joel Ponton, was riding an old horse while Foley was on a fine racehorse. In the chase the old horse gave out early, but the Indians ran right past Ponton and the nag, and kept after Foley, killing him and taking the horse.
A. J. Sowell in his book, Rangers and Pioneers of Texas, wrote of a family north of San Antonio in 1839. A Mrs. Coleman was attacked by Indians as she was working her garden with her seven year old son, Thomas. Seeing Indians, both ran for the house. Mrs. Coleman took an arrow in the neck. She managed to get into the house, and with the help of her thirteen year old son, was able to bar the door. Three other children, two daughters, nine and eleven, and an infant hid under the bed. Mrs. Coleman took down a rifle and then sat down in a chair to pull the arrow out. When she did this, she fell from the chair, dead. The thirteen year old boy picked up the rifle, and killed the chief as he approached the house. He fired twice more, killing another, and injuring a third Indian before he was slain. The Indians took seven year old Thomas and left the other three under the bed.
After the Indians left the Coleman's place they camped on Brushy Creek. Captain James Rogers and thirty men ran into them there. Finding more than they could handle, the Texans disengaged. Jacob Burleson, brother of Ed Burleson, was killed as the Texans rode away. Rogers and his men ran into Ed Burleson and twenty men coming from Austin. Together they all rode back to Brushy Creek with Ed Burleson in command. They found Ed Burleson's brother Jacob. He lay where he had fallen only now he was scalped and stripped. His right hand and right foot were cut off. Burleson's scout found the Indians, and though there were still more Indians than Texans, Burleson decided to fight. When the battle was over, three Texans lay dead, one of whom was a Methodist preacher, James Gillelad. The Indians withdrew taking with them many dead.
In the Lower Brazos river bottom, Phelps Bailey was splitting logs when two Indians came up to him and began to harass him. He had just put a wedge in a log, getting ready to split it when they began their tirade. He challenged the two braves to prove their strength by putting their hands in the crack of the log and pulling it apart. When they accepted and began to try, Bailey knocked out the wedge pinning the Indians fingers. He then made his escape.
In 1838, a Captain Lynch led a survey party of 25 Texans into what is now Lampasas County. They were attacked by a band of 40 Comanches between Salt and Cherokee Creeks. The Texans prevailed; but Captain Lynch was killed.
In the Robertson Colony in late December, 1838 the Indians were a large problem for the colonists, particularly the Irish families at Staggers Point. In January 1839, Benjamin Bryant organized a group of 48 men, most of them from the Staggers Point settlement, to hunt down the Indian band that was marauding their area. The colonists proceeded to a woodline where they believed the Indians to be, they advanced in a line. They were surprised by a charge from the woodline of a larger than expected war party of Indians. In the confusion and hand to hand fighting that followed, most of the colonists escaped, but ten of the men from Staggers Point and Benjamin Bryant lay dead. Texas historians refer to the event as Bryant's Defeat.
TEXAS CONGRESS CELTS
In April of 1838, T. J. Rusk presented a petition to the Texas Senate for the establishment of a state supported education system on behalf of the Philosphical Society of Texas. Besides Rusk, Sam Houston, James Collinsworth and A. C. Horton were members.
To say debate in the Texas Congress was lively is to understate the facts. In April of 1838, just after Houston addressed a joint session of the Texas Congress, Thomas W. Ward and Francis R. Lubbock were arguing in the gallery. Ward hit Lubbock with a stick. Lubbock drew a derringer and fired at Ward. His aim was jostled by a bystander. In the commotion that followed, Ward escaped.
His term over in 1838, and unable to succeed himself, Sam Houston left the office of President of the Republic of Texas. Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar announced his candidacy to run for President of the Republic of Texas. Houston supporters scrambled for someone to run against him. John S. Ford, representative of the Texas House of Representatives, mounted a campaign to ask T. J. Rusk to run. Ford said Rusk was "... the only man in Texas who could show the shadow of a claim as the peer of General Houston in the esteem, love and admiration of the people." Rusk declined to run. The Houston group next asked Celt, Peter W. Grayson, to run. Grayson, a former Lamar aide and Attorney General of the Republic accepted the task of running against Lamar. Grayson was disaffected with Lamar and glad to have the chance to help the Houston forces. In July of 1838, Grayson unexplainably committed suicide. The Houston group quickly sought some one to take Grayson's place on the ballot. Realizing they would need someone the people of Texas would know and trust, they asked the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, James Collinsworth, to run. He prefered to stay where he was but eventually defered to the arguments to keep Lamar, Houston's political enemy, from claiming the presidency and succeeding Houston. T. J. Rusk was appointed to take Collinsworth's place on the Supreme Court.
Just months before the election, Collinsworth, in a fit of depression also committed suicide. At almost the last moment, the Houston faction settled on Robert Wilson to represent them in the race against Lamar. Wilson never had a chance. The opposition candidate, Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar, was elected. David G. Burnet was elected Vice President. A drawing of Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar is below.
After the election on the day of Lamar's inauguration, Sam Houston unexpectedly appeared on the podium before Lamar was to speak. It was known that Lamar had worked very hard on his inaugaration speech, he put a lot of effort into it. He wanted his first act as the President of Texas to be one that would be remembered. When Houston appeared on the podium he did so in costume; knee breeches, ruffled shirt and powdered wig. He was the only one thus dressed. He asked if he might make a few farwell remarks and introduce his successor. Lamar acceeded to the request. Houston took to the podium and held forth for three hours When at last it was time for Lamar to address the crowd, he was so nervous and so flabbergasted by Houston's rambling speech, he handed his finely crafted Inaugaral Address to his Private Secretary, Algernon P. Thompson to read. Thompson read the speech, into which Lamar poured so much effort and emotion, in such a dull, soft monotone that he put many to sleep and moved others to get up and leave. Houston enjoyed his prank enourmously. For years thereafter, he would take delight in telling the story of it.
Lamar as the leader of the opposition, immediately set about to make a number of changes. He wanted to build a new capitol in a new location. It was James Kerr who entered the bill in the Texas Congress. On the site selection committee were William Menefee and Isaac Campbell. Lamar moved the capitol from Houston to Waterloo, the name of the location was to be changed to something more fitting the capitol city of Texas. The name Austin, to honor Stephen F. Austin was offered by Thomas Jones Hardeman. Hardeman County is named after Thomas Jones Hardeman and his brother Bailey Hardeman, whose mother, Mary Edwards, was from Ireland. One of the men who helped lay out the city of Austin was William Ryon. The land upon which the capitol was built was owned by still another Celt, Thomas Jefferson Chambers for whom Chambers County is named.
A Drawing of Austin soon after it was designated the Capitol of Texas
WHY NOT OLD SAN ANTONIO?
The capitols of the Republic of Texas never included the principal city in Texas, San Antonio. The city was the seat of power during both the Spanish and Mexican administrations of Texas. The events of 1813 with the Army of the Republic of the North, the siege of Béxar in 1835, and the fall of the Alamo, had a part of the city's population welcoming the Spanish or Mexican Army. The Texans did not forget such things and wanted their capitol city to be one of their very own. San Antonio was farther north than the Nueces, but was always considered a Mexican town by most Texans. The Irish colonies were treated as a kind of buffer area as there were large amounts of Mexicans in their population. Most Texans lived above the Guadalupe River and their mindset was decidedly anti-Spanish and anti-Mexican. Those below the Guadalupe lived among and with Mexicans as neighbors, and the toleration factor was greater. Commercial contacts for those above the Guadalupe followed the pattern started in East Texas by those in Los Adaes, Bucareli, and Nacogdoches of trading with the east, now the United States. Those below the Guadalupe traded south with Mexico and other Gulf ports. Understanding this fact of daily life in the early days of the republic will help you to better understand how and why some of the events to come occurred, and why to this day many of them are chosen to be forgotten.
In 1839, the French government sent Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois de Saligny to build a legation in the new Texas capitol and serve as the French Chargé d'Affaires to the new Republic. While the legation was being built the "Count" as he called himself stayed at a hotel operated by Irishman Richard Bullock. When he refused to pay the bill, but stayed in his rooms, Bullock took to insulting the "Count" in public. President Lamar and his cabinet, wanting to preserve the good start with France, pressured Bullock to put up with the French representative until the legation was built. The Texas Congress passed a bill making it a prison offense to speak disrespectfully of a foreign minister.
< Richard Bullock's Hotel at 6th and Congress in Austin