SO STANDS OLD "BRIT" BAILEY

Bailey referred to the first families of Texas, those known as the Old Three Hundred, as the newcomers, and often complained about the rules they brought with them. In order to protect his land, Bailey agreed to abide by the laws applying to the Austin Colony, but never passed a chance to tell the newer settlers he got along fine before their arrival. The best description of Bailey comes from the writings of Noah Smithwick. Noah Smithwick, who came to Texas in 1827 and stayed until 1861, wrote of his experiences in Texas. J. Frank Dobie, the noted Texan historian, proclaimed Smithwick's book, The Evolution of a State or Recollections of Old Texas Days, "Best of all books dealing with life in early Texas." Many of Smithwick's observations are used in this book, to describe the people and families of early Texas. Noah Smithwick was of Scotch ancestry; his family fought in the American Revolution in North Carolina.

James Bailey was Irish. There is a story about him. The story begins when Bailey was dying. Smithwick wrote that Bailey told his wife, "I never stooped to any man, and when I'm in my grave, I don't want it said, 'There lies Old Brit Bailey', bury me so the world must say 'there stands Bailey'." He asked to be buried facing west with a jug of whiskey at his side. His widow complied in all respects save the jug of whiskey. The place where Bailey was buried, standing up and facing west, is known as Bailey's Prairie. It was the site of an extensive plantation he successfully built. Over the years, near the believed site of his grave, there were reports of a phenomenon that from the earliest days to the present are reported as Bailey's ghost. It is described by those who saw it as a light at night that comes out of nowhere and seems to float. Some said it is Ol' Britt looking for his jug of whiskey. Whatever it is, tales of Bailey's ghost persist, from the 1800's to the present. The last reported incident was when a deputy sheriff saw the light. He radioed in for witnesses and possible reinforcements. When another deputy got to the first deputy's car, he found it empty and the smell of gun smoke hanging in the air. Huddled on the prairie floor was the deputy who shot at the light when it appeared to approach his car!

 

CELTS AMONG THE OLD THREE HUNDRED

In 1824, Austin's colony included families with names like:

Allen, Andrews, Callahan, Clark, Fitzgerald,

Harrington, Hughes, Jackson, Kegans, Kelley,

Kennedy, Kerr, Lynch, McWilliams, McNutt,

McCormick, McCoy, McLain, McNair, McNiel,

McKenzie, Moore, and Murphee.

See section B of Appendix V for Celts in the Austin colonies. Some where Irish born, some Irish American, some Scottish. In his register of settlers, the first person listed is Irish born George McKinstry. Of note to this study are the grants of land to: Irish born Arthur McCormick and family which became the battleground of San Jacinto; and those to Irish born Nathaniel Lynch whose adjoining property became the Lynchburg Crossing. The ferry made the connection to the town of Lynchburg. The town was mostly Lynchburg's tavern and a few other buildings.

John R. Harris received title to the land which became Harrisburg through a document witnessed by David McCormick, Juan McFarland, and Irish born Seth Ingram. Harris' great grandfather founded Harrisburg, the capitol of Pennsylvania. A brother of John Harris was named William Plunket Harris. Plunket and Harris are both names found in Ireland since 1600. The town of Harrisburg, in Texas, was laid out for Harris by Scotsman F.W. Johnson. When a large force of Indians attacked Harrisburg in the summer of 1829, eighty men under the leadership of Colonel John Nial pursued them and defeated a force of two hundred Waco Indians. The first Alcalde of Harrisburg was Captain John Moore.

The first to build a house on Buffalo Bayou was Moses Callahan and the first house on Spring Creek was that of Samuel McCurley. In what is now Fort Bend, the McNutt family were the first settlers. Nicholas McNutt became the first Austin colonist to get married. He married a Miss Cartwright sometime before 1826. Sylvester Murphy owned a large tract of land between Armand Bayou and Horse Pen Bayou. His neighbor on the south end of his tract was Irish born George B. McKinstry. Down at the mouth of the Brazos was the home of Henry S. Brown, for whom Brown County was later named. Near what is now Columbia, Texas, the first industry of Texas was established when John McCroskey began operation of a tannery sometime prior to 1829.

Austin, in 1823 commisioned ten residents of his colony to serve as Rangers, who would serve as lawmen and keep the peace, thus was organized the Texas Rangers. In 1824, Stephen F. Austin sent Captain Randal Jones to the lower Brazos River to fight Karankawas that were threatening the colony. The two forces clashed in the Battle of Jones Creek nine miles west of what is now Freeport. Fifteen Indians were killed and the rest fled.

ENCORE EAST TEXAS

More Irish pioneers arrived in East Texas. James McKim settled in what is now Jasper County. McKim Creek is named after him, as was another creek and a prairie.

James McFaddin settled on the east bank of the Trinity River. He volunteered to fight in the War of 1812 and found himself in New Orleans the day the British came to call. His family became one of the founders of Beaumont, Texas.

Humphrey Jackson was born near Belfast, Ireland. He and his family settled in what is now Crosby, Texas. Jackson was yet another who served with Andy Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. He was also one of the early Alcaldes of Austin's capital, San Felipe.

Doctor George Moffett Patrick's home on Irish Bend Island was on Buffalo Bayou, along where the Houston Ship Channel is now between Lynchburg Crossing and Brady's Island.

Conn Lake is named for James Conn and his son, Robert. Robert married Delilah Allen on July 23, 1830, in Michael Dailey's home.

William Friend McMahon was in Texas at New Caldonia (now Burkeville) in 1824. He began his trek in life in Virginia, then passing through Kentucky, West Florida, Arkansas, and Louisiana before he made it to Texas. He was a Methodist preacher as was his son, William Friend McMahon, Jr.

The election for Alcalde of Nacogdoches in 1825 was conducted in the home of Peter Ellis Bean.

.The Celts at Ayish Bayou in 1824 included; Bailey Anderson, Bryan Daugherty, Peter Galloway, Milton Garrett, and John McGinnis.

An example of an Irish family changing their name to appear more American is the Bryan family of the Liberty area. They are an example of the great numbers of Irish who left the East for the changing western frontier. Christopher O'Brien changed the family name upon his arrival in America. The family moved from Virginia, to Kentucky, to Missouri, to Louisiana before settling in Texas in 1823. Luke Bryan, Christopher's son, brought the family to Texas when his wife Rebecca died. Christopher Bryan's appointment as a sheriff in a Louisiana parish, in 1811, began a long tradition in this family to be in military or law enforcement careers.

THE IRISH COLONIES

Other colonies were awarded to empresarios. Not all of them were successful in fulfilling the terms of the grant. One who applied and was not successful was Jane McManus. She is described by contemporary women of Texas as being independent and an adventuress. She and her brother, Robert O. W. McManus, came to Texas on behalf of The Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. The company was funded by a number of investors including their father, former U. S. Congressman from Troy, New York, William Telemachus McManus and another New Yorker, Aaron Burr. The project did land some German colonists at Matagorda before it failed. Robert McManus stayed on at Matagorda, but Jane went back East. She maintained a life long interest in Texas. This interest was relected in her writings for which she gained some measure of fame. Years later, Jane married a Texan from the Matagorda area.

< Robert O. W. McManus

Five of the eleven successful empresarios of Texas had a Celtic connection. Four of them were born in Ireland. They settled what was known as the "Irish Colonies" on the east banks of the Nueces River. Irishmen James Power and James Hewetson were granted permission to settle Irish families between the Nueces River and Coleto Creek. James Power was born in Ballygarrett, Ireland. The Uprising of 1798 which resulted in the Battle of Vinegar Hill occurred not far from his home in County Wexford when he was a ten year old lad. When he was 21, Power immigrated to Philadelphia. From there, he went to New Orleans and then to Saltillo where he was a successful merchant. As a Spanish citizen, and later a Mexican citizen, Power became interested in a colonization project for Texas.

The man who became his partner in the venture was James Hewetson. He, too, immigrated to Philadelphia where he became a medical doctor. He came to Texas in 1821 when he accompanied Stephen F. Austin. He eventually settled in Saltillo, where there was a small Irish community. A member of this group was James Wiley Magoffin, U.S. Consul, and a member of the ruling body over Chihuahua. He would later be one of the founding fathers of El Paso, Texas. Dionysio O'Farrell was another Irishman in Saltillo.

................................................James Hewetson >

John McMullen and James McGloin were granted permission to settle Irish families north of Power's and Hewetson's colony. Their colony was roughly from the Nueces River to the San Antonio River, or just short of it at Blanco Creek. John McMullen was born in Ireland in 1785. His family immigrated to Baltimore and then Savannah before settling in Matamoros, where he ran a merchandising business. His partner in the colonization venture, James McGloin, was his son-in-law. McGloin, born in County Sligo, Ireland, was the youngest of the four Irishmen. He was born in 1799. His part in the settling of Texas came about because he missed the boat.

He told his family in Ireland he wanted to emigrate to Australia. When he got to Liverpool, he found the boat for Australia had sailed. John McMullen was on the dock when this happened and talked the young man into going with him to Texas. They took a ship to New Spain. The boat to Australia was lost at sea, and for years his family thought him dead. They later learned he was in Mexico working for John McMullen. James McGloin worked his way up to be a partner in McMullen's business, married McMullen's daughter, and joined in the effort to found a colony based on recruiting the Irish from Philadelphia and New York.

 

Although both colonies were known as the Irish colonies, there were distinctions. Power and Hewetson had Refugio as their capital and were often referred to as the Refugio Colony. They were also called the "Royal Irish" as many of the colonists claimed to be descended from Irish kings. McMullen and McGloin used San Patricio de Hibernia (Saint Patrick of Ireland) as their principal city and were often called the San Patricio Colony or colonists. Each colony also had Mexican and non-Irish colonists. The Irish in the Refugio Colony (Power and Hewetson) were for the most part directly from Ireland, while those in the San Patricio Colony (McMullen and McGloin) were recruited from among the Irish in the U.S. Northeast, most of these families were originally from County Mayo and County Tipperary. There were some San Patricio colonists who came directly from County Tipperary. Subtle differences, and some not so subtle, between these two Irish groups will be discussed later. The San Patricio Colony embraced the present counties of: San Patricio, Live Oak, McMullen, Atascosa, and Bee. One of the San Patricio colonists obtained his grant long before the formation of the colony. Mark Killelea of County Sligo, Ireland received his grant from the King of Spain in 1823, but it wasn't until he came to Texas with McGloin and McMullen he was able to claim it. His 4,000 acre grant was in what is now Live Oak County.

 

John McGloin's petition for a land grant:

 

Founding the town of San Patricio on October 24, 1831 were the:

McGloins, McMullens, John McSheany, John Heffernan, William O'Docharty, the first Alcalde; George O'Docharty, John Carroll, Maria Brigida Kivlin, Patrick Neven, Andrew Boyle, and Father Henry Doyle.

Father Doyle replaced the colony's first cleric, Father Michael Muldoon. Father Muldoon returned to Mexico City. Other towns in the colony dominated by Irish colonists were Oakville, in what is now Live Oak County; Fox Nation, which was later changed to Gussetville, after a store was operated there by Norwick Gussett; and Shannon Crossing. In 1834, the population of the colony was estimated to be six hundred.

Getting to the colonies was an ordeal. Ox-cart, horseback, boat, and shank's mare (walking) were all employed to move the colonists to their new home. Hardship and deprivation were daily burdens; death and disease visited the settlers about as often as hostile Indians. Of 108 emigrants who left Ireland on the first boat to join the Refugio Colony, only eight ever reached Texas. The next group of colonists from Ireland left for Liverpool in December, 1833. In January, 1834, they left Liverpool for New Orleans. They arrived in New Orleans on board the Prudence. They were still in New Orleans awaiting transportation to Texas when the Prudence made a return trip from Ireland with a second group of Irish colonists. This second group arrived April 21, 1834.

Power left Liverpool with several hundred more colonists on the Heroine, on March 12, 1834. Because of bad seas, they did not get to New Orleans until the end of May. When he got to New Orleans, he found members of the first two groups had died of cholera and many others were in New Orleans' hospitals gravely ill. These were people who had to scrape together the passage money, even though their berths were in the cargo holds. They had to bring their own food for the voyage and could little afford lengthy layovers, let alone any hospital stays. Power quickly organized two schooners for the last sea leg of the journey. Those who could, boarded the ships and they sailed for Copano Bay.

A gale at sea challenged the ships to cross the sandbar at Aransas Pass. The captains of the ships wanted to turn back but the Irish would have none of it. Power drew a gun to enforce the Irish view. Both schooners got in, and both ships ran aground. There was a lot of damage to the ships. The passengers lost many of the supplies and implements the colonists had counted on for their settlements when the ships began to break up. Before the passengers could disembark, cholera broke out. The Mexican officials would not allow anyone to leave the ships until the crisis past. Two hundred fifty Irish died. They never set foot on their new land. When at last some were allowed to land, they were again held in quarantine at Copano.

Mrs. Ann Burke was one of the Irish colonists aboard the schooner, Messenger. Her husband contracted cholera during the voyage from Ireland and was buried at sea. Within an hour of her disembarkation on the sun-baked beach at Copano, Mrs. Burke gave birth to young Patrick Burke. Thus, she and the others like her began their life in Texas. It is no wonder they accepted the name of the nearby Spanish mission, Our Lady of Refuge, for the name of their town (Refugio). The Refugio colony encompassed the present counties of Refugio, Aransas, and most of San Patricio, as well as the southern portions of Bee and Goliad Counties

The town was officially organized on June 19, 1834 with John Dunn as Mayor (Alcalde) and James Power commanding a company of militia as a Lieutenant Colonel. Others assisting in the founding of Refugio were: Michael Fox, John Kelly, and Timothy Hart. The first town lots were purchased by: James Brown, Nicholas Fagan, Robert Patrick Hearne, Edward McDonough, John Malone, John Dunn, Samuel Blair, Josue Davis, and James Bray. Mary Byrne was granted one of the town lots. Her brother, James Byrne, later came to Texas and invested in its future, fought in the Revolution, and helped found the town of Lamar. He wrote a letter that gives you an idea of why, and how quickly the Irish assimilated themselves, losing in the process much of their ethnic identity. He wrote ..."My parents lived through some of the most bitter years of Irish persecution by the English. They had seen wanton murder and the pillaging of the towns and parishes." He went on to say he was the eldest of eight children, all born in Ireland and, "When my family came to America, we put all thoughts of royalty and heraldry behind, seeking economical and political asylum." This explains to some degree the point made earlier. When Irish immigrants responded to Texas census takers about where they came from, the immigrant responded, "the United States"; or if pushed for more details, "Louisiana"; or even, "New Orleans." Eager to put a tragic past behind them, many Irish got off the boat, American or Texan!

Other areas of settlement in the Refugio Colony were: Blanconia, Pajarita de Sangre, the Fagan Settlement, Copano and Aransas City.

< James Power

Mary Austin Holley, Stephen F. Austin's cousin, wrote in 1833:

Never was there a more inviting asylum for the Irish emigrant, than is presented by the Irish colonies on the Nueces, and it is to be hoped that large numbers of them will avail themselves of the advantages here presented in the event of their becoming settlers.

Many an Irish immigrant did just that.