The Spanish were eager to populate East Texas to stop the migration into its lands of Indians and Americans. The Spanish considered many plans. One of the more successful was the empresario land grant system. It had worked successfully in Louisiana under Miro and Carondelet.

The term "grant" needs to be explained further. In the original plan, and as it generally remained, empresarios (from the Spanish word empresa for enterprise or venture) were businessmen or land speculators granted large blocks of land in exchange for an oath of allegiance to the State. The empresario was to bring in settlers to whom he would give a portion of his grant. The empresario was to insure his land grant was settled by people who fit the Spanish profile of the "right kind of colonists." This meant they were to be people of character and Catholic. If the empresario completed his colony in the agreed time, he would receive lands based on the performance of his responsibilities. One of the first plans presented to settle East Texas was a request of Nolan's friend, Father Brady, a Carmelite priest.

In 1804, Father Brady, together with Frenchman Bernado Despallier, was given permission to relocate Irish families from Spanish Louisiana to East Texas. The families were from his former parish in the Baton Rouge and Rapides area of Louisiana. Permission was granted, thus making Brady's project one of the first approved empresario grants even though it was never followed through.

William Barr also applied and was approved to establish a settlement near what is now Liberty, Texas. Another application was made by Diego Barry and Felipe O'Reilly to settle 10,000 Irish and Canary Island families in Texas. This application was disapproved. Father Brady's settlement was established, but without him, as he withdrew from the project before it was completed. Barr lost his grant when he did not settle any families by the date set in the grant.

The Governor of Texas in 1805, Antonio Cordero, put in motion a plan to move volunteer families from the Béxar area to a new town on the Trinity River off the El Camino Real to be called Villa de Santísma Trinidad de Salcedo. Santisma Trinidad de Salcedo was founded in January of 1806 on the east side of the Trinity River on the Camino Real.

This settlement was later called Spanish Bluff by some Americans. William Barr furnished the supplies for the town's founding. When Governor Cordero could not get enough volunteers from the Béxar area, the plan was expanded to include families from former Spanish Louisiana that wished to relocate to Spanish Texas. Among the latter were Irishmen: Miguel Quin (Michael Quinn), Juan Mequin (John McGee or Magee)and his wife the former Harriet Burgess, who was born in Ireland, their two sons and daughters. Others included: Enrique Seridan (Henry Sheridan), Hugo Coyle, James Fear, and John Mulroney. There was also Henry Poston, born in Ireland and a Peter Patterson. Most of these settlers were accompanied by their families.

The following spring a new census for Trinidad de Salcedo showed that Anna Calaxan (Callahan), Celeste Robertson, and Vincent McLaughlin joined the families there. Still more came in 1807, Rebecca Cheridan (Sheridan), Juan Malroni, Carlos Trahan, Juan McFale, and Jaime Mirlan (whose wife was the former Martha Jameson, were among the Irish at Trinidad de Salcedo.

East Texas squatters wanted to take advantage of the more open attitude toward settlers Spain was now exhibiting. Seeing the newly organized efforts, the East Texas squatters decided to make application for their land claims legal. They wanted to protect their homes. Unless the squatters were a known problem, the applications to live in Texas by people already there were granted. Among the applications dated previous to 1810 were those of Irishman Daniel Boone, nephew to the famous Daniel Boone of Kentucky. He was living in the Atascosita area. Others included Irish born Daniel Coleman Jones, and John Andreton, who identified himself as an Irishman from Brunswick, Virginia. Three others from Opelousas, Louisiana: John Runnels, Guilermo Gardner, and Juan Fears were all of Irish heritage. They applied for twenty six families from Opelousas to be declared residents.

The established settlements were also adding more Irish among their number. In 1802, John McFallen was in Nacogdoches. Timothy Barnett, a native of County Leinster, Ireland, was in Nacogdoches in 1803. In 1806, John Oconor stated, in the Nacogdoches Census, he was a "native of the capital of Connaught" (Connaught was an ancient Kingdom in Ireland). Another new arrival was John Beins who came from County Sligo and served in the British Army in the American Revolution. He was taken as a prisoner by the Continental Army. After the war, he settled in the United States and moved to Nacogdoches in 1803. He worked for Barr and Davenport. In 1806, the Spanish sold the old stone fort to the trading company of Barr and Davenport, known as The House of Barr and Davenport. In Trinidad de Salcedo, the names of Irishmen: Timeteo (Timothy) Barrett, Patricio (Patrick) Fitzgerald, and Joshua Ris (Reese or Rice) were added. John McGee built a flour mill in the settlement.

In Béxar, Thomas Starr was a tailor and James Orr was a carpenter, both were Irish and there in 1808. Daniel Boone moved to Béxar from Atascosita and became the garrison's gunsmith. Daniel Coleman Jones also moved to Béxar.


The man who was to be Governor of Texas in 1808, Manuel Maria de Salcedo, moved quickly up the ranks of the Spanish hierarchy. He served under his father who was governor of Louisiana at the time of the transfer of Louisiana to France in 1803. Young Salcedo played a part in the capture of the notorious Irish adventurer William Augustus Bowles.

Bowles had an interesting history. He was born in 1763 in Frederick, Maryland. At the beginning of the American Revolution, Bowles bought a commission in a British provincial battalion known as the 1st Battalion Maryland Loyalists. He purchased a rank called "Ensign" which then was comparable to the army rank of Second Lieutenant. This has led to some confusion that Bowles might have been, at one time, in the British naval service which he was not. William Bowles was sent by the British to Pennsylvania. He later sailed to Jamaica and then to Pensacola. Something happened there that seperated Bowles from the British Army leaving him in Pensacola. While in Pensacola he apparently became involved with the many Creek Indians who frequented the area. He left to live with the Creek Indian Nation and took an Indian wife. His new father-in-law was Kinache, town Chief of Miccosukee.

When the Spanish attacked Pensacola in 1781, Bowles led a Creek force to defend the city. The Spanish took the city, but Bowles' bravery and leadership put him back in favor with the British. There is evidence he received a pension from the British because of his part in the defense of the city.

< William Augustus Bowles

When the American Revolution was over, William Augustus Bowles went to Nassau in the Bahamas where he found the support of some English businessmen and the Governor of the Bahamas, Lord Dunmore. They hoped to use Bowles as a means to break up the monopoly the trading company of Panton, Leslie and Company had a with the Creeks and Seminoles. Acting as a British agent, Bowles harassed the Spanish in Florida and Eastern Louisiana. At one point, he was sent by the British with some Indians to London. The Indians were displayed and introduced to Londoners as examples of the American primitives.


At one point, while in London, he petitioned King George III to be allowed to make a bold strike at the Spanish by being allowed to invade Mexico. This idea went nowhere due to the lack of any support. Returning to America, Bowles was back in Florida operating for the British against the Spanish.

Bowles' relationship with the Creeks was with the Lower Creek town Creeks (the Creeks had been for a long time divided into the Lower Creeks and the Upper Creeks, for an explanation of this please click this link for an explanation as given by the Texas Handbook, Online Edition > . William Bowles actively particpated with and soon led, with his father-in-law's support, in resisting Alexander McGillivray's attempts to unify the Upper and Lower Creeks into a central governing structure and McGillivray's ascendancy as Chief over all of the Florida Creeks. Bowles was representing the traditional view of most Creeks, and even more closely held by the Lower Creeks, to keep authority at the town level where they had the authority to agree or disagree to participate in any united effort.

At the same time, Bowles felt strongly that the territory in possession of various Indian tribes did not belong to the Spanish, English or Americans, but to the Indians who were on the land. He did not limit himself to the Creeks but also spoke on behalf of the Cherokees, Choctaws, Seminoles and smaller tribes. He spoke about forming a republic or state made of the joined tribes. He publicly pronounced his ideas to all who would listen; Spanish, British, American and the tribes involved. While this state would be made up of joined members, each would still occupy the lands they then held and be sole authority over them.

After assuring the Creeks and Seminoles of British support for the Indians, in a meeting at Coweta in 1791, William Agustus Bowles established the State of Muskogee. He designed a flag shown below.

From the British, he obtained free access to ports in the West Indies when ships flew the Muskogee flag, and support for a Muskogee army and navy. The British were able to endorse this new state not as another nation but as buffer zone between them and Spain, and the United States.

Bowles led a large force of Creeks to attack the settlement and fort at San Marcos (Saint Marks) on 16 January 1792. He was successful and in the aftermath used his success to barter a trade with the Spanish. Return of the settlement for Spanish recognition of the State of Muskogee. The Spaniards invited him to come and negotiate and then they captured him. After first trying unsuccessfully to get Bowles to join the Spanish in implementing their policy for the area, the Spanish sent him to Cuba, and then to Spain for trial. His sentence was to be sent to the Philippines. He escaped the Philippines and next showed up in the British colony of Sierre Leone, Africa. The British took him back to England and then back to Florida. From there Bowles began to again harass the Spanish in Louisiana while continuing to establish his Indian state.

An American survey party found William Bowles, in the Fall of 1792, aboard a ship stranded in shallow water off St. George Island in Apalachicola Bay. They reported their finding to the Spanish in San Marcos (Saint Marks). Plans were under way for a military force to capture Bowles when it was learned his ship was gone.

Bowles declared in 1799 in a proclamation that the 1795 treaty between Spain and the United States was void because it ignored the Indians' sovereignty over Florida. This appealed to the Indians involved and he had their support. He began to sign his proclamations "Director General and Commander-In-Chief of the Muskogee Nation."

The Spanish resonded by attacking his Camp on the Olockonee River. The raid was successfull and captured much of his personal effects. William Bowles was forced to move his base of operations. He moved to his father-in-laws town, Miccosukee which was north and not far from present day Tallahassee. Soon after, on April 5, 1800, Bowles declared war on Spain.

Bowles again set about to attack the settlement at San Marcos. His objective was the Panton-Leslie Trading House as much as was the fort. Rather than attack the settlement directly, Bowles attacked the supply ships coming to support the settlement as they came up the river. He was able to capture one of the ships and target its canon on the settlement. On May 10th, 1800 the fort was surrendered to William Bowles who then took possession of the goods and the trading house of the Panton- Leslie Company.

The next month, the Spanish took the settlement back. They attacked a weakened defense as most of the Indians had left and it was defended only by Bowles and His Bahamian/British trading friends who were attempting to set up a trading post in the name their company. The Spanish had learned to acede to a more close relationship with the Indians of the area around San Marcos particularly the Creeks. They worked hard to cultivate a business realationship with the Indians buying grain and beef from them and listening to their complaints.

The new Spanish tack was proving successfull, so that William Augustus Bowles found it necessary to turn his attention to the United States. In his new proclamations he demanded the United States return the land they obtained through the treaty with Alex McGillivray. Bowles stated the treaty was illegal and was imposed on the Creeks who did not support the treaty. In another proclamation he called for the United States to recognize the State of Muskogee or he would declare war.

Miccosukee soon found it had several new English people among its citzens, these were the English that were with him in the Bahamas and at Fort Marks. He introduced them as his administrators of the government of the State of Muskogee. The borders of the State of Muskogee were never drawn. Borders was not something in the Indian culture, though they knew to respect the principle territory of tribes. Though there was no central goverment as such, Bowles did organize a Muskogee Army and Navy. With their three ships, the Muskogee Navy freely attacked the Spanish ships in the gulf and even attacked Mexican ports. Bowles's successes were enlarging his support from areas outside of the Lower Creeks including the Seminoles including Black Seminoles, Red Stick Creeks and others who opposed the centralization promoted and even forced by the Upper Creeks.

In August of 1800 the Spanish assembled a large force at San Marcos and marched to burn Miccosukee and capture or kill Bowles. The Spaniards defeated themselves by not having trained their men to handle the terrain or heat and humidity. They had to turn back after going only three miles of the thirty miles to Bowles' capitol, Miccosukee.

Bowles set seige to the Spanish at San Marcos once again in January of 1802. His force was made up of Seminoles, Negroes, white pirates, and Spanish soldiers who had deserted from their fort in Pensacola., He almost succeeded but for the cannon fire from ships guarding the approaches to the fort and the news that the war between Spain and England was over. Britain also declared peace with France.

The Spanish strategy of living with the Indians in and around San Marcos and even beyond and asking for and paying for their support, plus the end of hostilities took the air out of Bowles campaign to push for the State of Muskogee. Even Bowles father-in-law had benefited by selling the fort 33 of his cattle. In August of 1802, the Seminoles living in the area near San Marcos signed a peace treaty with the Spanish as did several other tribes or towns including Bowles' father- in- law for his town, Miccosukee. Soon the British and the Spanish were working together to remove Bowles who was now seen as a troublemaker.

The Americans too saw Bowles as an impediment that needed to be removed. His objection to the earlier Creek cessation of land in Georgia by McGillivray was holding up new cessations they were looking to acquire. The Upper Creeks led by McGillivray and then MacIntosh also found Bowles to be in their way as they wished to benefit from selling the land to the Americans. Their reasoning was they may as well get a price for it than be pushed out with nothing. Bowles had placed a death sentence on the life of Benjamin Hawkins, the American Indian agent trying to negotiate for the land.

A conference was called on May 24, 1803 at the Creek town of Tukabatchee with Hawkins his Lower Creeks supporters, and a general council of the Seminoles, Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws. Bowles declared himself king of all the Indian nations present. After that, Hawkins had gained enough supporters to have Bowles captured. Bowles again escaped but only briefly and this time was placed in irons, and delivered to the Spanish governor in Pensacola, Manuel Salcedo. William Augustus Bowles was taken to Morro Castle prison in Havana, where he died in 1805.

William Augustus Bowles>


His story is of interest to us because he was Celtic, and possibly related to the man known in Texas history as Chief Bowles. More about him later.