Along with everything else, Hurricane Harvey took with it decades worth of files, maps, notes, coordinates, names and research I had on my external hard drive; so for the time being, this site will be on hiatus until I finish republishing. I will upload as I go, so each post will reappear on its original date and can be found in the Archive section in the right sidebar. If you need to contact me for any reason in the duration, my contact info is found in my profile. Wish me luck, guys. - JES
Moses Austin Bryan, soldier, son of James and Emily (Austin) Bryan, was born in Herculaneum, Missouri, on September 25, 1817. After the death of James Bryan, Emily Bryan, sister of Stephen F. Austin, married James F. Perry, and the family moved to Texas in 1831. Bryan was employed for a time in the store of W. W. Hunter and Stephen F. Austin and then went to Saltillo, Mexico, as Austin's secretary. In 1835 Bryan clerked in the land office. He again became Austin's secretary when Austin became commander of the Texas army in the fall of 1835. After Austin retired from the army, Bryan joined as a private. He served in the battle of San Jacinto as third sergeant in Moseley Baker's company, as aide-de-camp on the staff of Thomas J. Rusk, and as interpreter for the conference between Sam Houston and Antonio López de Santa Anna. In 1839 Mirabeau B. Lamar appointed Bryan secretary of the legation to the United States under Anson Jones. Bryan was a member of the Somervell expedition in 1842. During the Civil War he was a major in the Third Texas Regiment. He helped organize the Texas Veterans Association in 1873 and served as its secretary until 1886. Bryan married Adaline Lamothe of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, in 1840; she died in 1854. In 1856 he married Cora Lewis, daughter of Ira Randolph Lewis; they had four sons and a daughter. Bryan died in Brenham on March 16, 1895, and was buried at Independence. Source
José Antonio Menchaca, Tejano army officer, was born in San Antonio in January 1800, the son of Juan Mariano and María Luz (Guerra) Menchaca. He married Teresa Ramón in 1826, and they had four children. Menchaca was not in San Antonio during the siege of Bexar, but returned shortly after Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos was forced to leave. In February 1836 he left for Gonzales, where he joined Juan N. Seguín's company of Texas Mexicans and fought in the battle of San Jacinto. After the revolution he returned to San Antonio, served several terms as alderman, and became mayor pro tem in July 1838. In July 1842 Menchaca was appointed to command a frontier company. His troops patrolled the area between the San Antonio River and the Rio Grande. When Adrián Woll led a Mexican army into Texas in September 1842, Menchaca participated in the defense of San Antonio and was wounded in the leg. In February 1844 Sam Houston appointed him an Indian escort. Menchaca helped organize a club of Texas Mexicans in support of Horace Greeley, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Republicans and Democrats in 1872. Along with eighteen other Bexar residents of Mexican descent, Menchaca wrote a letter in 1875 to the comptroller of public accounts claiming discrimination by the Texas government against Hispanic veterans of the revolution. Menchaca was a member of the Holland Lodge, the oldest chapter of the Masonic order in San Antonio. He died on November 1, 1879, and was buried in the San Fernando Cemetery No. 1 in San Antonio. In 1936 the Centennial Commission erected a marker at his grave. It has been asserted by residents of the town of Manchaca in Travis County that their village was named for the nearby Manchaca Springs, which were named for Jose Antonio Menchaca. Source
Margaret Houston, wife of Sam Houston, was born near Marion, Alabama, on April 11, 1819, the daughter of Temple and Nancy (Moffette) Lea. On the death of her father in 1834, she moved with her mother from the family farm in Pleasant Valley, near Marion, into town, to the home of Margaret's elder brother Henry Lea, a successful businessman and state legislator. She was educated first at Pleasant Valley Academy and subsequently at Judson Female Institute.
In Mobile, Alabama, in 1839 she was introduced to Gen. Sam Houston at a party held by her sister Antoinette, Mrs. William Bledsoe. Despite an age difference of twenty-six years and Houston's well-known difficulties with drink, they were married on May 9, 1840, after a year-long courtship. Margaret's kin apparently opposed the marriage. Soon after the wedding, members of her family moved to Texas, where they moved in and out of the Houstons' lives for the next quarter century.
Margaret, a beautiful young woman, was utterly devoted to Houston through their twenty-three-year marriage. Some of his faults she openly battled, while others she had to learn to tolerate. Being deeply religious, she could not stand his drinking. Rather than nag him, she made him realize that his drinking hurt her and profaned the sanctity of their home; in this way she led Houston to declare total abstinence, which, with some difficulty, he kept to for the rest of his life. Convincing him to join the Baptist Church and be baptized proved a greater task, but one in which she succeeded, with the help of Rev. George W. Baines, on November 19, 1854, when Houston was baptized by Rev. Rufus C. Burleson in Little Rocky Creek, near Independence.
There were compromises: Houston's wandering she found herself helpless to curtail. Not long after moving to Texas Margaret realized that her health, particularly her chronic asthma, prevented her following him in his restless journeys from place to place; she determined then to make a home that would beckon him, but not to follow. During Houston's long years in the United States Senate, she never once went to Washington, nor did she travel his nearly endless campaign trails. Staying at home, she created a domestic circle on which he looked increasingly as a haven. Her letters to him reinforced the shrine of home. Her method worked, in a great measure, for in his absences he longed for her and the large household, which ultimately included eight children. The letters of husband and wife tell not only of a love of family but a deep love for one another.
The Houstons had numerous houses in Texas. Only one of these they kept continuously, Cedar Point, on Trinity Bay. It was a modest building, like most of the rest, built of logs, weatherboarded, with four or five rooms and the household services in separate buildings in the yard. Mrs. Houston, who loved gardening, maintained vegetable and flower gardens at all of her houses. Of their homes only the house at Huntsville, which is greatly remodeled, the rented Steamboat House nearby, and the Governor's Mansion in Austin are still standing. Raven Hill, Cedar Point, and the house in Independence, near old Baylor College, are gone. Surprisingly few of the Houstons' personal possessions survive.
The palmy days of the Houstons' life together were the years when he was in the Senate. Then they had money to spend and did not have to rely upon farming or land speculation, at which Houston was never successful. When Houston was in Texas the family was not likely to remain long in one place, but traveled about from house to house in a big horse-drawn carryall enclosed in canvas. Nearly every summer they spent time at Cedar Point. Autumn found them in Huntsville or Independence. Before 1853 Nancy Lea lived regularly with them, managing the household, a job that held no interest for Mrs. Houston. Of the fourteen slaves, about five were house servants, presided over by Mrs. Houston's maid, Aunt Eliza, also a slave, who was about ten years older than Mrs. Houston and devoted to her well-being.
Mrs. Houston's inquiring mind led her by the late 1840s wholly away from reading novels and plays into religious studies. Her letters to Sam contained long passages on religion and reflected her great insecurity about the beliefs she professed. Often ill, often pregnant, and often idle, for she was waited upon by others, she became subject to periods of depression. The idea of hell terrified her. Circumstances surrounding the death of her close friend Frances Creath at Huntsville in January 1856 led her to conclusions that finally gave her peace on the subject of religion and strengthened her through difficult times.
The unhappy climax of Houston's long political career in 1861 and his subsequent removal from the office of governor of Texas were followed by his two final years in retirement and relative obscurity. Living between Huntsville and Cedar Point, Mrs. Houston was with her husband constantly, assuming more duties than ever previously in her married life. Sustained by religion and her children, she saw Houston decline rapidly and gave him support where she could.
After his death in Huntsville in 1863, the widow was in serious financial straits. She moved to Independence to be once again near her mother, who had emerged from the war with some money. Mrs. Houston rented a house and labored to hold her family together. Her condition eventually eased when the state legislature voted to pay her the unpaid balance of Houston's salary as governor. In the fall of 1867, while preparing to move with her youngest children to Georgetown to live with her married daughter Nannie, she contracted yellow fever. She died at Independence on December 3, 1867, where because of health laws she was buried at once, next to the tomb that Nancy Lea had built to contain them both. Source