November 27, 2012

Nathaniel Lewis

Nathaniel C. Lewis, merchant and legislator, was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on June 11, 1806, the son of Nathaniel and Sarah (Hatch) Lewis. He went to sea at age fourteen in a whaling vessel. Accounts of his early life and journey to Texas are confused and contradictory. According to family legend he was shipwrecked on the coast of South America and taken to New Orleans and thence to Port Lavaca. Another story has him settling in Cincinnati, then proceeding to Texas on a boatload of tobacco that was seized by Mexican authorities. According to this account he was befriended by Castillo de la Garza, who took him to San Antonio in 1830. He entered the mercantile trade, first at Indianola and shortly thereafter in San Antonio. By 1832 he is said to have been involved in coastal trade. As a founder of the firm of Lewis and Groesbeck on Main Plaza in San Antonio, he became one of the leading merchants in the Southwest before the Civil War. He also established San Antonio's first gristmill, was an early real estate promoter and developer, and was the first large-scale cattleman in the region. He owned herds from the Medina River to the coast.

Nathaniel Lewis' crypt
When Santa Anna's forces entered San Antonio on February 23, 1836, Lewis fled to Gonzales, although he is reputed to have supplied the Alamo garrison from his store and was perhaps the last man to have left the mission before the battle of the Alamo on March 6. He is said to have served as a scout for Houston's army. After the battle of San Jacinto he returned to San Antonio to reestablish his mercantile business. In 1839 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas from Bexar County. After 1840 he served several terms as alderman in San Antonio and once served as mayor pro tem. During the 1850s he was engaged in the freighting business between San Antonio and El Paso. Lewis was married twice, first to Letitia Groesbeck, then to Mary Fanny Liffering, with whom he had two children. He died in San Antonio on October 21, 1872. His brother, Henry M. Lewis, was a San Antonio attorney and editor of the West Texan.

GPS Coordinates
29° 25.282, -098° 27.951


City Cemetery #5
San Antonio

November 13, 2012

Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams, soldier and early East Texas settler, son of Richard and Ann Williams, was born on May 9, 1760, in Granville County (later Bertie County), North Carolina. He joined the American revolutionary armies at the age of eighteen and fought at the battles of Briar Creek, Camden, and Eutaw Springs. He was mustered out of the service after the expiration of his third enlistment in 1782. He married Delilah Stallings in 1779. After the war Williams acquired bounty land in Georgia before moving westward to Louisiana.

During the winter of 1814-15 he helped guard the Madisonville naval yards against the British invasion of the latter stages of the War of 1812. Williams, a blacksmith by trade, suffered from severe rheumatism from 1816 to 1824, which severely limited his business. After several desperate efforts to repay debts incurred during the period, he moved to Texas in 1830. He was by this time a widower with at least five children. He settled in what later became northern Newton County, then moved west to what is now Jasper County. As Texan dissatisfaction with Mexican authority grew, Williams again volunteered for military service in 1835, at the age of seventy-five, and served under Capt. James Chessher. With four of his grandsons he participated in the siege of Bexar. Williams eventually claimed two-thirds of a league of land and a town lot in Jasper. The veteran of three wars died in April 1839 and was buried at his home in Jasper. As part of the Texas Centennial celebration his body was moved to the State Cemetery in Austin.

GPS Coordinates
30° 15.920, -97° 43.639

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

November 6, 2012

Samuel Rhoads Fisher

Samuel Rhoads Fisher, Secretary of the Texas Navy during the republic era, was born in Pennsylvania on December 31, 1794. Before 1819 he married Ann Pleasants; they had four children. Fisher came to Texas in 1830 and settled at Matagorda. He represented Matagorda Municipality in the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos and there signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Fisher's nomination by President Sam Houston as Secretary of the Texas Navy was confirmed by the Senate on October 28, 1836. Houston later accused Fisher of abuse of office, insubordination, use of his position for smuggling, and the unjust capture of the English brig Eliza Russell. A lengthy and bitter trial before the Senate ensued. On November 28, 1837, by a vote of six to five, the Senate voted to remove Fisher as Secretary of the Navy on “the grounds of harmony and expediency,” though they did not find that Houston presented enough evidence for a finding of dishonorable conduct . Fisher died on March 14, 1839, and was buried at Matagorda. Fisher County, established in 1876, was named for him.

GPS Coordinates
28° 42.009, -095° 57.324

Section D
Matagorda Cemetery
Matagorda