1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.
DeWitt Colony People & Demographics

Short Memoirs & Sketches from Old Texians


Alexander HortonAlexander Horton.   Memoirs written San Augustine, Texas, 18 Oct 1891.

I was born in the State of North Carolina 18th day of April, 1810. My father's name was Julius Horton, my mother's name was Susannah Purnell. My father moved to the State of Louisiana in 1818. He died in the month of May, 1818, leaving my mother with nine helpless children, Nancy, Elizabeth, Sarah, Samuel, Sandy or Alexander, Martha, Wade, Henry, Susan. My mother moved to Texas first part of January 1824 and settled in San Augustine then called Ayish Bayou; found the country almost uninhabited. There were but few people then living in the county. I found James Gaines keeping a ferry on the Sabine river. The next house was Maximilian's. At the Polygoch, Macon C. Cole. The next settler, Brian Doughtery, living at the place where Elisha Roberts formerly lived. The next place was Nathan Davis living at the crossing of the Ayish Bayou. The next place occupied was where William Blount now resides, but the houses were east of the houses where Mr. Blount now resides. At that place lived John A. Williams. From there there was no one living, until you came to the place where Milton Garret lived. There, a man named Fulcher lived, and at or near the Attoyac lived Thomas Spencer. That was about the number of inhabitants living in this county first Jany. 1824. But the county from this date began to make rapid improvements and all things seemed prosperous. Among the early settlers of this county were some of the noblest men to be found in any county. They (were) generous, kind, honest and brave I will here give the names of many of them. I will begin with David and Isaac Renfro, Elisha Roberts, Donald McConald, John Cartwright, Willis Murphy, Phillip A. Sublett, John Chumly, Nathan David, Obadiah Hendrick, John Bodine, John Lout, Bailey Anderson, Benjamin Thomas, Wiley Thomas, Shedrack Thomas, Thomas Cartwright, Isaac Lindsey, John G. Love, Martha Lewis and family, George Jones, Achilles Johnson, Elias K. David, Theodore Dorset, John Dorset, Benjamin Lindsey, Stephen Prater, Wyatt Hanks, James and Horatio Hanks, Solomon Miller, Hiram Brown, William Lace (Lacey), George Tell, Edward Tell, John Sprowl, James Bridges, Ross Bridges, Peter Galloway, John McGinnis. These were the most earliest settlers of East Texas. In 1825 the people began to make rapid improvement, opening large farms and building cotton gins. This year Elisha Roberts, John A. Williams and John Sprowl each erected cotton gins on the main road for at that time there was no one living either north or south of the old King's Highway. In the year 1824 William Quirk built a mill on the Ayish Bayou just above where Hanks Mill now stands. All things went on harmonious for several years, the country filling up rapidly.

The first trouble we had commenced 1827. This was what was called the Fredonian war. This grew out of a quarrel between the Mexican citizens of Nacogdoches and Col. Hayden Edwards. Col. Edwards had obtained from the Mexican Government the right to colonize the country south of the road leading from Nacogdoches to the Sabine river, and had settled in the town of Nacogdoches with his family, but a dispute soon arose between him and the Mexican citizens in regard to their land matters. These things were referred to the Mexican authorities who at once decided in favor of the Mexican citizens, and at once took from Edwards his colonial grant and gave the colony to Antonio de Zavalla. This act aroused Edwards to desperation and he at once proceeded to the United States and raised a large force of volunteers, marched upon Nacogdoches and after a short engagement took the town, killing one Mexican and wounding several. They then raised what they called the Fredonian flag, and established the Fredonian Government. He then called upon the citizens of Ayish, Sabine, and Tenaha or Shelby to join. This they refused to do, not seeing any cause for a war with Mexico. This again roused Edwards to desperation and he at once issued a proclamation, giving the citizens a given time to join him, stating that all that did not join by a given time was to be driven out of the country, and their property was to be confiscated. In furtherance of this he set down to this county about 100 men stationed on road about two miles east of the Ayish Bayou. This threat backed by such forced entirely broke up the county. Every citizen of this county except Edward Tell and myself fled across the Sabine. It did seem as if all was lost but at last the comforter came. The evening before the Fredonians were to carry out their threat to my great joy and surprise who should ride up to my mother's but my old and well tried friend Stephen Prater. A braver nor no honester man ever lived in any county. He had with him about 75 or 100 Indian warriors all painted and ready to execute any order given them by Prater. When he rode up to my mother's house he called to me and said: "Not run away yet?" I told him I had not left nor did not intend to leave. He then said: "Are you willing to join us and fight for your country?" I told him I was. Then said he "Saddle your horse and follow me, for I intend to take that Fredonian garrison in the morning or die in the attempt." I at once saddled my horse, shouldered my rifle and fell into line. Stephen Prater had only eight white men with him. The rest of the citizens had gone over Sabine for protection from the government of the United States. I well remember all of them he had with him. James Bridges Sr., James Bridges Jr., Ross Bridges, Peter Calloway and John McGinnis, his two sons Stephen and Freeman, and A. Horton. He marched that evening up in about 400 yards of the Fredonian fort, dismounted his man and at daylight in the morning marched them up near these fortifications, and after telling them the place would be taken by storm, but not to fire or kill any one without we were fired on, the order was given for a charge. When the word was given to charge the Indians raised a war whoop and it was terrible. The Fredonians threw down their arms and begged for quarters which was granted at once. They were all disarmed and put under guard. As next day was the day the troops was to come down to carry out their threat of confiscation, as fast as they arrived they were arrested and put under guard. So in the course of a few hours we had them all under guard. When the news reached Nacogdoches Col. Edwards and the balance of the party fled to the United States, crossing the Sabine river at Richard Haley Crossing in Shelby County: and this was the last of the Fredonian war. This is a true and correct statement; Tho many things may have been left or forgotten what is states is true and correct.

All things after this went on smoothly. The Mexican Government was highly pleased with the part taken by the Americans and at once appointed officers to extend land titles to the colonists, the country rapidly filling up with settlers. In 1832 a civil war broke out in Mexico, President Bustamente declaring a favor of a monarchial form of government, and General Santa Anna in favor of the Constitution of 1824. The Americans everywhere in Texas took up arms in favor of Santa Anna. At that time there was a regiment of Mexican soldiers stationed at Nacogdoches under the command of Col. Piedras, who declared in favor of the central government. The people of Eastern Texas declared in favor of the Constitution of 1824. The people at once flew to arms and elected John W. Bullock commander in chief. James W. Bullock was a well tried soldier, had served under the immortal Jackson in Indian wars and was with him at the battle of New Orleans. The Texans marched from the town of Nacogdoches the last of July 1832 and on the second day of August formed themselves in regular order of battle and demanded the surrender of the place or the raising of the Santa Anna flag, both of which Col. Piedras refused to do, sending word that he was well prepared and ready to receive us. About ten o'clock on the 2nd day of August the battle began, the Mexicans meeting us at the entrance of the town. A furious fight commenced which lasted all day, the Americans driving them from house to house until they reached the stone house. There they made a desperate stand but was again driven from there to the main fortification, which they called the quartell. This ended the fighting of the 2nd of August. August 3d the Americans was well prepared to commence the fight but to their surprise they found that the Mexicans had that night abandoned the town and had retreated to the west. A call at once was made for volunteers to follow them. 17 men at once volunteered to go after them; attacked them at the crossing of the Angelina, and after a considerable fight in which the Mexicans lost their great cavalry officer Muscus [Musquiz], who was killed in the fight, the Mexicans took possession of John Durst's houses. The Americans then withdrew and took a strong position on the road west of the river, intending to ambuscade and fight the Mexicans to the Brazos, but after waiting until late in the day returned to see what the Mexicans was doing. To our surprise on arriving near the house we saw a white flag floating from Durst's chimney. We approached the place with caution for we had only seventeen men and Piedras had an entire regiment. But we approached as near as we thought prudent and Piedras had his officers come out and surrender themselves prisoners of war. We then was at a loss to know what to do with so many prisoners so we hit upon the following plan: so it was agreed upon that Col. Piedras and his officers should be taken back to Nacogdoches, and that the soldiers should remain where they were until further orders. On arriving at Nacogdoches with our prisoners a treaty was made by way of New Orleans pledging himself not to take up army any more during the war unless fairly exchanged; and this was the end of the war of 1832. The names of the seventeen men I have forgot some of them but remember some of them. I will begin with James Carter, Hiram Brown, John Noilin, William Lloyd, Jack Thompson, George Lewis, Horatio Hanks, James Bradshaw, A. Horton, George Jones; the other names I have forgotten.

When I arrived in Texas in 1824 I found [it] so sparsely settled that there was no regulations in any legal form. As we had no knowledge of the Mexican laws we were a law unto ourselves. But as the country became more thickly settled it became manifest that there must be some rule to collect debts and punish crimes. The people agreed to elect a man whom they called an Alcalde and a Sheriff to execute his orders. The Alcalde's power extended to all cases civil and criminal without any regard to the amount in controversy. Murder, thefts, and all other cases came under his jurisdiction except divorces, and as the old Texas men and women were always true and loyal to each other, divorce cases was never heard of. The Alcalde had the power in all cases to call to his assistance twelve good and lawful citizens to his aid when he deemed it necessary or the parties required it, and the decision of the Alcalde and 12 men was final from which no appeal could be taken, and there was as much justice done then as there is now and not half so much grumbling. The first Alcalde was Baily Anderson, the next was John Sprowl. In 1830 Jacob Garrett was Alcalde, 1831 Elisha Roberts, 1832 Benjamin Lindsey, 1833 William McFarland, in 1834 Charles Taylor was Alcalde. I served as Sheriff under Roberts, Lindsey, McFarland and Taylor, but the year of thirty five called me to the tented field in defense of my country.

The year 1835 brought about a new order of things. After the people had fought for Santa Anna in 1832, looking on his as the Washington of the day, [in] 1835 he turns traitor to the republican party and declared himself Dictator or Emperor. He soon overrun all the Mexican states except Texas, who true to the principles of 1776 refused to submit to his tyrannical form of government, and this brought on the war with Mexico. The people held political meetings everywhere in Texas and resolved to resist the tyrant at all hazards. A consultation was called to meet at San Felipe de Austin to determine what was best. In the mean time the people of Texas had flew to arms; had taken Goliad and San Antonio, and driven the Mexicans out of Texas. When the Consultation met they at once closed the land office in Texas, suspended the laws in all civil cases, and elected Sam Houston Commander in chief of the armies of Texas. Houston repaired to the army but Travis and Fannin refused to give up the command to Houston. He returned home much mortified and the disobedience of orders let to all the great desertion of our armies. Had Fannin and Travis have turned over the command to Houston that fine army would have been saved, but Houston had to return and wait until the meeting of the Convention in Mar. 1836 before he could get the command, and it was too late. On the assembling of the Convention among the earliest acts was to elect Houston Commander in chief, for at that time Travis's letters were coming every day calling for troops, saying that the Mexican army was advancing rapidly on him in great force, but he would hold the post till the last and would never surrender. Houston arrived at Gonzales about 11th of March with only four men: Col. Hockly, Richardson Scurry, A. Horton and one other man. When he reached Gonzales he found the glorious Edward Burleson there with about 400 four hundred men, who had started to reinforce Travis, but on reaching there found that Santa Anna with a powerful army had got there before him and surrounded the Alamo with a force estimated at from 8000 to 10000 thousand men. On Houston's arrival Edward Burleson at once turned over the command to him, and was at once was elected colonel of the first regiment. The great anxiety was the fort of the Alamo. The spies came in that morning (and) said that San Antonio was surrounded by a powerful force so they could not approach near enough to see what was the fate of it, but greatly feared that the town had fallen as all firing had ceased. Soon after Mrs. Dickerson arrived with her infant daughter and that every one had been killed except herself and child and the negro man, that Santa Anna with his whole army was not five miles off for she left them at dinner and had come with a proclamation from Santa Anna offering a pardon to all that would lay down arms and submit to the government, but certain death to all that was found under arms. This proclamation Houston read to the men and then stamped it under his feet and shouted 'Death to Santa Anna, and down with despotism.' All the men joined in the shout. But there was not time to be lost as the enemy was at the door.

After a Council of war it was decided that the troops must fall back at once. Orders was given for the women and children to retreat as fast as possible assuring them that troops would cover their retreat and defend them as long as a man was left alive. The retreat was commenced about midnight, the troops following them. Houston retreated to the Colorado, sending word to Fannin to blow up Goliad and join him there, but he refused to do so and paid no regard to Houston's order. Houston remained there many days expecting that Fannin would come to his assistance, but that he failed or refused to do. While waiting there Houston's army was stronger than it ever was afterwards. While waiting for Fannin and expecting him every house, to his great surprise, Carl, a man will skilled in the Mexican affairs, came to camp and brought the dreadful news that Fannin's army had been captured and all killed after their surrender. This dreadful news again had caused great confusion in the army. The army was again obliged to fall back and a large number of our men had to be paroled to take care of their families, and this again greatly reduced our forces. Houston retreated to the Brazos to San Felipe. There he turned up the river on the west side and encamped opposite Groce's Retreat between the river and a large lake, where he remained many days sending out his spies in every direction watching the enemies motions. At last the glorious spy, Henry W. Karnes, brought the news that Santa Anna had forced the crossing of the Brazos at Fort Bend and was marching on to Harrisburg. Houston at once, by the assistance of the steamboat 'Yellowstone,' that was lying at Groce's, threw his army across the Brazos and took up the line of march to Harrisburg, that ended in the defeat of the Mexican army and the securing of the independence of Texas.

In those dark days all seemed to be lost as that little army was all the hopes of Texas, for if that little army had been defeated all was lost, for the Indians were on the point of joining the Mexicans, for on my way home after the battle I passed many Indians about the Trinity painted and armed awaiting the result of the battle, for if that little Texian army had been defeated the Indians would have joined the Mexican army and would have commenced butchering our helpless women and children. When all seemed to be lost the noble Sydney A. Sherman came to our assistance with a glorious Kentucky regiment and rendered great and timely aid and having gloriously led our left wing in the glorious battle of San Jacinto. That battle secured the independence of Texas and laid the foundation of extending the jurisdiction of the United States to the Pacific Ocean.

I was a member of the Consultation 1835, voted for the Declaration of Independence at that time and if it had have carried Texas would have been in a much better condition to have met the enemy than she was in 1836. It would have given us more time to have organized armies, and been much better prepared to have met the enemy. I have been in Texas since 1824, served in all the wars, beginning with Fredonian war 1827, in the war between Santa Anna and Bustamente, 1832, in the war 1835 and 36 between Santa Anna and the Republic of Texas, and in 1839 against the Cherokees under John Boles the great war chief. I have served Texas in various wars. I was first Sheriff for I was President of the Board of Land Commissioners in 1838, Custom House Collector 1839, was Mayor of San Augustine. I was a member of the Consultation in 1835, served you one term in the legislature, and there has never been a call for help in the hour of danger that I was not there I have seen San Augustine twice broken up and abandoned, first in the Fredonian War in 1827 all the citizens of the county left and fled to the United [States] except Edward Tell and myself. 1836 it was again abandoned but I did not witness that scene for I was in the army acting as Aid-de-camp to General Houston. I have never abandoned my country though I have had to encounter many dangers having come to Texas when only 14 years old without father money or friends, and never received but a very limited education, in fact what I in a great measure acquired by my own exertions with a little assistance from my friends. I an proud to be able to say in truth that I have been always an honest man. At 27 years I married to Elizabeth Latten formerly Elizabeth Cooper by whom I had three children one son and two daughters. My oldest son I named Sam Houston Horton after my glorious old chief that led me to battle, and who remained my best friend through life. Houston Horton is still living. I had also two daughters Eliza and Mary, both dead. I lived with my wife ten years. In the meantime I had by honest assertions accumulated a small fortune but the civil wars of my country left me in my old age penniless poor, having given away a fortune in valuable land for negro property which was taken away from me by the self righteous people of the North, these hypocritical people having dealt in slaves as long as it was profitable in the North and finding out that the money that they had invested in negro property could be better and more profitably invested in factories at once brought their negroes down south and sold them for from one thousand to fifteen hundred dollars to their southern neighbors.  sdct [From the Kemp Papers, Center for American History, University of Texas and reprinted by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas]

Josephus Sommerville Irvine.  Letter to Editor sometime before his death in 1876.

Mr. E

Sir: As I have never written a piece for publication perhaps you may think (and think correctly too) that it is presumption in me to begin at his time of the day but while taking a retrospective view of the past history of Texas scenes were brought up to my mind through which the writer of this has passed a description of which might interest some of the readers of your excellent paper. I thought I would jot down a few of them and send them to you and then you could do with the article just as you pleased. The Spring of 1836 was for a while a gloomy time in Texas, well do I remember when the news of the fall of the Alamo and the massacre of Travis and his brave companions, the surrender of Fannin and the subsequent cold-blooded murder committed by the Mexicans upon him and the noble hearted men that composed his army, how it made the blood leap hot in the old men's veins and how it fired up the ambition of the young and caused them to shoulder their rifles and repaid to the scene of war to chastise the haughty tyrant who had exercised his fiendish cruelty upon their neighbors, friends and brothers.

Two companies were raised forthwith, one in Sabine County and one in San Augustine County, the writer of this joined the company raised in the first named county - These companies were organized and left the Red Lands I think sometime in March. Nothing of note occurred until we got to the Brazos River. We did not know precisely where the Texian army was but we supposed it was somewhere on the west side of the Brazos perhaps on the Colorado, we therefore crossed the Brazos at Washington and had traveled but a few miles when we received information that Gen. Houston with the Texas Army was encamped at Groce's Ferry some distance below Washington. Our officers therefore concluded that they would recross the river and go down on this side- lest we might otherwise meet up with Santa Anna by going down on the west side of the River, for we did not feel exactly able to measure swords with an army of 6 or 8 thousand regulars. We therefore returned to Washington and here a scene was presented to our view the like of which I hope never to witness again. I allude to what is generally known as the Runaway scrape. The citizens of Washington were crossing over to the east side of the river as fast as possible when we arrived and such was the consternation and confusion that it was impossible even to get something to eat for on two of us going to the tavern to get our dinner we were informed that we could not get any from the fact that they were packing up to leave and had not time to prepare it. We succeeded, however, in getting 4 eggs for which we paid 75 cts. We recrossed the river and took up our line of march down the river and finally reached the army encampment in the Brazos bottom where we remained until about the 15th. April at which time the army crossed over to the east side of the river and after a forced march of fifty five miles we arrived opposite Harrisburg on the 18th.  sdct [Copy of a letter given to Kemp by Ms. Jesse J. Lee of Houston, 1935, from the Kemp Papers, Center for American History, University of Texas and reprinted by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas]

Anson JonesAnson Jones.  Memoir of San Jacinto (excerpts from his complete memoirs).

In March came the news of the fall and massacre of the Alamo, and I immediately enlisted as a volunteer private soldier in Captain Calder's company, 2d Regiment infantry, and joined the army at the Beeson crossing on the Colorado, two days before the retreat to the Brazos commenced. My cousin, Ira Jones, I left at Brazoria to look after my interests, and herewith instructions, as requested by him, that if the place should be abandoned, he should join me in the army, which he subsequently did. During the time the troops were encamped in the Brazos bottom, the dysentery and measles broke out (April, 1836) and at the very urgent solicitations of Col. Sherman, and many of my friends and former patients in the army, I consented to take the post of surgeon of the 2d Regiment. It was necessary, in fact, for me to do so, but I made it a condition of accepting, that I should be permitted to resign so soon as the necessity of my acceptance of the place should cease; and that, in the mean time, I should be permitted to hold my rank as a private in the line. In accordance with this agreement, I continued to do duty in both capacities, until the increase of sickness compelled me to give up my privateship....

("April 2d, 1836.- I discharged from this time the duties of Judge Advocate General, until I left for New Orleans, in May. V. Army Orders.) I saw but little of Gen. Houston, and had not much conversation with him until the evening of the day we crossed the Brazos at Groce's, when we took supper together with some relatives of Mr. Groce, who were occupying his house temporarily. He asked me, after supper, privately, what I thought of the prospects. I told him the men were deserting, and if the retreating policy were continued much longer, he would be pretty much alone. He said there was a traitor in the army among the officers and asked me to guess who it was. I immediately, without a moments hesitation, replied that I guessed it was one of his volunteer aide, Col. Perry. The General said, I have intercepted a letter of his to the Cabinet; he is endeavoring to have the command taken from me, and wants it himself. I told him I had no confidence in Perry, and thought him a reckless fool, but that he [Houston] might depend upon it, there was a deep and growing dissatisfaction in the camp, and that Perry's conduct was but an index of that feeling. He seemed thoughtful and irresolute; said he hoped yet to get a bloodless victory; and the conversation dropped, with an expression of an earnest hope on my part, that the next move he made would be towards the enemy. (April 15, 1836)

On the morning of the day we left camp at Harrisburg and crossed the bayou, a general order was issued, and a detail was made to stay with the sick; and I and Dr. Phelps (hospital surgeon) were of the number. I resolved as I have done on subsequent occasions, to disobey the order. I, therefore, having attended to my daily routine, handed over my sick to the hospital surgeon, and joining the army at the crossing, about sundown, and proceeded with it to Lynchburg. As a consequence, I participated in the battle of San Jacinto next day and on the 21st, and that night was occupied the entire time, and until sunrise next morning, in assisting to dress the wounds received on the field. I accompanied the Commander-in-chief and the captive Mexican President to Galveston, having resigned my office as surgeon of the 2d Regiment in favor of my cousin, Ira Jones, who had joined the army a short time previous. I was now appointed Assistant Surgeon-General and Medical Purveyor to the army, and sent to New Orleans to procure supplies. I was absent about a month, and returning, made my headquarters at Brazoria.....

Connell O'Donnell Kelly.  Letters concerning his service to Texas 1883 in California.

The San Francisco Examiner (date unknown, late 19th century?)

A short time ago a paragraph in the Napa Gold Dollar referred to the veterans of the early war for the independence of Texas, and it was stated that only one of the survivors of that war, sofar as known, was not living in California--Dwight Spencer, of Napa. The Examiner called attention to the fact that at least one other of the Texas veterans survived and was a resident of this city--Alf. Laforge, formerly of Mokelumne Hill, who was together with the late Chas. Clark, Sheriff of Calaveras from 1853 until 1857, also a survivor of the Mier prisoners. Since then information was received that another of the Texas veterans, Wash Train, lived in San Joaquin. And now comes the veteran of these veterans, who has lived in San Francisco since 1850--Colonel Connell O'Donnell Kelley, who is in his 73rd year, and, with the exception of impaired vision, in the enjoyment of robust health. His own letter to the Gold Dollar is herewith given:

If you will kindly permit me space I will answer an inquiry made in your paper in relation to where are the Texas Veterans. I am one of the same and I can relate nearly every incident that occurred during the war, as I had taken part from the commencement to the termination of that conflict. I first joined the "Mobile Greys", under the command of Captain Burke and two other Companies commanded by Captain Moseley Baker and John W. Smith, and upon the call for volunteers at Gonzales to go to the assistance of Travis, Bowie and Crockett, I was one of the twenty-five who responded. I was honorably discharged on the battle-field of San Jacinto, out of Captain McIntyre's Company, and sailed with General Sam Houston for New Orleans, but left the General at the English Turn, two others and myself going ashore there, at which place we hired horses and reached New Orleans in advance of General Houston: therefore we were the first to bring the joyful news of our victory. Major Roman and Col. Dexter, both Texas veterans, are dead. Dwight Spencer, whom you mentioned in your paper, I am personally acquainted with, and I have no doubt he will remember me when I state that I was known as "Cod" Kelley during the Texas war--the word comprising the initials of my name. I have also served in the Mexican War, many of my old comrades are living here. By inserting this in your paper you will greatly oblige an old soldier now 73 years of age. Your obedient servant, CONNELL O'DONNELL KELLY.

Colonel Kelley was with Captain McIntyre at San Jacinto, and well remembers Captain Hiram Fairchild, who commanded a company from Louisiana at the same decisive battle, which won Texas her independence as the "Lone Star" Republic. Captain Fairchild was among the first printers who came to this Coast. He fought through the war with Mexico, and was noted for his intrepidity and soldierly qualities. He died only a few years ago. It may be interesting for the surviving veterans of the Texan war to know that the Legislature of Texas passed an Act, approved April 21, 1874, by which the veterans of that desperate and protracted struggle for independence are entitled to a pension of $150 per annum during life, if in ordinary health but if disabled from wounds received in that war, of $300. per annum also a silver medal commemorative of the war, specially struck for the purpose. The act in full was reproduced in the Daily Examiner of May 21, 1874. So far as known the only survivors on this Coast are the four herein above-mentioned--Dwight Spencer of Napa, Wash Train of San Joaquin, and Alf. Laforge and Colonel O'Donnell Kelley of this city. It was the independence of Texas that led finally to the war with Mexico, which brought to the United Stated the immense area now comprising California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona (sic)and New Mexico, which will in the next century be the richest and most prosperous section of the entire Republic in the ratio of its population.

Connell O'Donnell Kelly to Texas Governor Ireland

San Francisco, Cal. Dec 28th 1883
To his ExcellencyGovernor Ireland

Dear Sir
I Connell O'Donnell Kelly went to Texas in the Mobile Grays in 1835 and straight through to San Antonio, was there at the surrender of General Korts [Cos]. then we volunteered to go and take Matamoras we then went to labardee [La Bahia] I was then sent as Express to San Phillipe de Austin on the Brazos River. at that time Capt Mosely Baker was calling for volunteers to go to the assistance of Generals Travers [Travis] Boya [Bowie] and Crockett. we started for Gonzales and arrived there at the time that Capt. W. Smith was calling for Volunteers to go that evening to the assistance of Generals Travers Boya and Crockett. And I was the only man out of Capt Mosley Bakers Company along with 25 others who volunteered to go we went as far as the Saylow [Salado]. there the Mexican troops saluted us with grape and cannister and run us to the Sea willow. We remained there a few minutes to hear our cannon but no response came then we retreated to Gonzalas. General Sam Houston just arrived from Washington Texas to Gonzalas and took command of the few little companies and ordered a retreat to Judge McClure rance on Peach Creek. and there appointed Capt. W. Smith as Capt. of the first spy company of Texas under General Sam Houston. At the same time Capt Dickerson Wife and Child and deaf Smith also old Bogardo came in sight with a white flag had crossed them on the ferry. they told Gen. Houston that all in the Alamo had fallen and that her and her child were the only survivors. they then sent her off to Nacogdoches on the red river with deaf Smith.

General Houston retreated down to Peggy McCormick league or labour of land and there we made a stand and fought the battle of San Jacinto.  General Houston was wounded in the leg he then had to go to New Orleans to have his wound dressed. and I went along with him.  I was honorably discharged on the Battle ground of San Jacinto from Capt. McEntyre company. being a married man I went to New York after my family. when we got to the English turn at the mouth of the Mississippi Capt Snell and Lieut. Woods and myself we hired 3 horses and brought the news to Piccayune office of Santa Anna and his whole Cabinet being made prisoners of war. and that Gen. Houston was coming up in the tow boat. I took the first Packet for the City of New York and brought the news of the Battle of San Jacinto and that the President of Mexico was a prisoner of war. I took my Wife and Sister in Law and a small stock of goods to New Orleans. I then went up the Mississippi down to La Fourche crossed to Galveston from there to Houston, Texas, aboard the Steamer Crusader with Mrs. Burchard of Independence and Mr. Taylor family of Montgomery County. I celebrated the Annaversery of our independence in San Antonio in 1880. Ex Governor Pease and Judge Waller of Waller Co Accompanying me there and back. I am now in San Francisco and have nearly lost my sight about four years ago. and I think I am entitled to a helping hand from a Brother. I am nearly 80 years of age. and as your Excellency has called an extra session of the Legislature it is in your power to lay this before that Honorable body and also the attached body of 1874 which granted us a pension. and which I am sorry to say the next session repealed it. Therefore I hope and trust that you will use all your influence to promote the welfare and care of and old Texas Veteran (Seal) Subscribed and Sworn to before Me this 29th day of December A D 1883 F. C. Mosebach State of Texas   Connell O Donnell Kelly (his mark)

sdct [From the Kemp Papers, Center for American History, University of Texas and reprinted by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas]

Alfred Kelso.  Letter to his brother-in-law in Fayetteville, TN, 30 Apr 1836.

State of Coahuila and Texas Department, April 30, 1836, - Dear Brother - a favorable opportunity presents itself at present to me to let you know that I am well. Your sister, Martha, was well some six or eight days since I heard from her. Martha is at the Sulphur Springs at this time, on the River Trinity. We live on the River Colorado when we are at home. I have been in the army ever since the latter part of the winter. The citizens marches from Colorado to Gonzales, the place of rendezvous, on the River Guadalupe. The army retreated from Guadalupe to Colorado. The families remained on the Colorado until the army retreated from Colorado to the River Brazos. Your sister, with a great many other families, was on the river fourteen miles below our army. The river only divided the Mexican army and the army of the Americans. The army took up the line of march before the families got the news. The families were liable to be cut off by the enemy and were compelled to leave everything behind and get off as speedily as possible. We retreated from the River Brazos to San Jacinto, there we fought the great battle. The proposition made by our officers was that every man that wished to stay at the camps could do so - that they wanted no man to go into the battle that could not stand up to the point of the bayonet. Out of our army there were 667 men that turned out against l,400 Mexicans. They had strong breastworks. We were marched up right in front of their breastworks, their cannoning playing on us. We were marched in forty yards of their breastworks before we were allowed to fire our cannons. Our cannoning soon knocked their breastworks to pieces, and we were ordered to charge. We charged, and they broke immediately. They overshot us with their muskets, both. We killed five or six hundred of the enemy; took 500 prisoners. Our losses were five killed and eighteen wounded; three of the wounded have died since the battle. We took every officer that belonged to the Mexican army - even Santa Ann himself was taken a prisoner. The Americans have made a treaty with Santa Anna. There is one more Mexican army in Texas. Santa Anna sent for the General to come in to our camp. He is in camp at this time. Santa Anna sent by express by our men to Larbadee for them to march west for the Rio Grande. The articles of the treaty are: Santa Anna is to have all his troops marched west of the Rio Grande. That is to be the line. He is to pay two million of dollars for damage and is to be kept a prisoner until the money is paid and the treaty is ratified by the Mexican Government. Our battle was fought on the 21st of April 1836.

John, it is not worth while to write you about the beauty of our country and the richness of the soil for you have heard them both spoken of so often and never heard the beauty nor the soil more spoken of than it naturally is. Land will be very valuable in Texas in a short time. I have 6,000 acres of land in Texas.  John, I must say to you that Ophelia died on 23d of August last. We have had one son since we came to Texas and called his name Martin Henry, and he is dead also. You must write to me. Direct your letters to Columbus, Texas. We live sixty miles above Matagorda, on Colorado. Nothing more at present, more than if you see any of my people, give them my compliments, and also receive them to yourself. Alfred Kelso

To John H. Martin. John, Martha and myself will be to the State in the fall and will come to see you. A. K. Mr. J. Martin, you must pay postage on all letters coming this way or they will remain in the office at New Orleans. Alfred Kelso. sdct [From ColoradoCo District Court Records, copy in the Kemp Papers, Center for American History, University of Texas and reprinted by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas]

Moses Lapham.  Letter from Texas to relatives in Ohio after San Jacinto in 1836.

At Mercers, on the Colorado river, 30 miles from the mouth   May 17th 1836

Dear parents & Brothers,
I am ashamed not to have written for so long a time but I have been very busy; I have been in the army since the 23rd of Feb. We have underwent a great deal of suffering; but finally achieved one of the most signal victories that was even recorded in the annals of any nation. I have enjoyed better health than I could have expected, considering the hardships we have endured. - - I have again to write that I have not heard one word from home since I left there; I am very anxious to hear from you all; it seems to me an age since I saw you. I cannot think but that you have often written to me, and entreat you by the most endearing ties of parents and brother to continue to write often hoping that at last some one of your letters may get to me. So the war is at an end, in the part of this country, at least, I think there will be a much better chance of getting letters than there has been.

You have no doubt heard of the war proceedings from the news papers, up to nearby the present date; but as they are very incorrect I will give you a concise general outline of the war, since I joined the Army. Col. Travis was stationed at San Antonio with a little more than 100 men, when Santa Anna about the last of Feb., came on him with a force of 2000 men; he wrote for instance; but the people were so dilatory, that but four companies could be raised to go to his assistance, and they did not reach Gonzales (60 miles this side of San Antonio till Travis was taken. Col. T.- and his men fought like heroes, they were all killed but seven who threw down their arms and begged for quarters, but were brutally killed upon their knees. Col. Fanning was stationed at Labordee [La Bahia] (60 miles below San Antonio) with about 400 men; He attempted to retreat when he heard the fate of Travis; but was attacked by near 2000 men, he sustained himself for three hours (in the open prairie) till dark, when he threw up a small entrenchment and lay till morning; then he found himself surrounded by four pieces of cannon. He had no water and his men were suffering for it. The enemy raised a white flag and he entered into a capitulation with the commanding officers. Col. F. and his men were to deliver up their arms and they were to be taken on parole of honor and sent to the U. S. in eight days. But they were stripped of most of their cloaths and their private property, and, on the ninth day, were ordered to be shot by General Santa Anna. They were fired upon by near ten times their number within a few yards; but fortunately some eight or ten escaped and saved themselves by running into the river, which was close by; they came to tell of the disgraceful and worse than savage violation of the flag of truce, and The Mexicans say Travis killed 500 and wounded as many more, and Fanning 300 and also wounded as many as he killed.

On hearing of the defeat of F. we retreated to the Colorado river, and then on that of F. our crazy Gen. Houston, ordered all his army of 1200 men to retreat to the Brassos, and hid the main body in a swamp between a lake and the river and suffered the enemy to cross the Brassos, when he (our crazy Gen) ordered another retreat; but fortunately, the men would not obey it; then he agreed that we should follow the enemy to Harrisburg (a place 20 miles east of the Brassos) where we took their express and found out the situation of that division of the army. We left out baggage a part of the men to guard it near Harrisburg and marched up with the rest to the enemy 10 or 12 miles below. Our cavalry attacked, on the evening of the 20th of April; but the Gen. would not permit the infantry to sustain them and they were obliged to leave the field. Several of our men were wounded, and they killed a number of the enemy. On the next morning the Gen. called a council of the officers and proposed to build a bridge across the Sangacinto Bay which is 200 yards wide; but the officers and men would not hear to it at all but urged an immediate attack. And the Gen. supposing that there had no reinforcement arrived, reluctantly consented to it. The express that we took on the evening of the 19th said Santa Anna had 700 men there and our force amounted to a few more; they had one piece of cannon and we two; we had exchanged several shots the day before. Our encampments were about a mile apart, both in the skirts of timber on the shore of the Bay. At four o'clock P. M. we attacked them in their fortification, by marching right across the open prarie. Our number was somewhere about 700 (I have not been able to ascertain exactly; but shall be as all of their names are registered and will be published). It consisted in part of the marrow bone of Texas; the cowards having fled from the country) and some choice volunteers from the U. S. and a few regulars. The enemy opened their fire at the distance of 300 or 400 yards; but our men marched on the 100 yards farther, when our officers ordered them to fire; but most or them (especially the Texians) know better the range of their rifles, and the military character of their enemy, and rushed eagerly ahead, wholely regardless of the shameful order of our Gen. and officers, until within a hundred yards of the enemy, when they gave a destructive fire; and some of the officers had sense enough to charge which would have been given, order or no order and they rushed on like tigers mounted their breastworks; threw the enemy into utter consternation, and turned the battle into a route, kill until they became glutted with slaughter and then took above 400 prisoners. I joined our cavalry for that day, (the most of them being unwilling to fight again on horseback, on account of not being sustained by the infantry the day before) and started at noon with five others to destroy and burn the bridge ten miles above to cut off their retreat and prevent reinforcement, and got back to the company just as the action commenced. After the route had fairly begun, thirteen of us, on the best horses, pursued about thirty of the cavalry and Santa Anna and his staff officers to the creek where we destroyed the bridge, killed a dozen or more before we got back these and as many more on the bank of the creek; the rest took shelter in thicket along the creek and we guarded it till morning when we took the old fox, Santa Anna prisoner and several officers. There were but two or three escaped to tell the news to the other divisions, when they immediately commenced a precipate retreat, and have been going ever since. Our army is following them to drive them across the Del nort river [Rio del Norte]. The enemy had been reenforced with 500 troops on the night of the 20th which made their numbers according to the statement of the prisoners we took 1164 regular soldiers, beside several 100 volunteers and officer's servants; but it is most probably there were more than they say. We had six or seven killed on the field, and wounded and killed in about, not above twenty. We cannot tell how many of the enemy were killed as they are scattered over the prarie and thicket for several miles, and many were killed swimming the Bay. We suppose between 700 and 1000 and them the veteran and choice troops of Mexico. Tell Chenney folks that E - - is well. I suspect he has written lately. I have great hope of Texas now; but if we do not get better men at the head of affairs, it will be a long time before we have a good government. Show this letter to Brother Oziel and request him to write to me. Give my love to all our friends. I am your affecinate child and brother  Moses Lapham

(postmarked New Orleans, La., July 17); (Addressed to Amos Lapham, Mechanicsburg, Ohio); (Stamped "Ship") 

sdct [Copy of letter from descendants of Amos Lapham in the Kemp Papers, Center for American History, University of Texas and reprinted by the San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas]

Next page 10

DeWitt Colony People & Demographics
1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved