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
James Seaton Lester, early settler, legislator, and official, was born in Virginia on April 21, 1799. He was admitted to the bar in 1831 and moved to Mina, Texas in 1834. In 1835 he represented the Mina or Bastrop District at the Consultation and was a member of a committee appointed to plan organization of the provisional government. Lester was recruiting agent at Bastrop for the army to attack Bexar in 1835 and later fought in the battle of San Jacinto. He served as senator from Bastrop and Gonzales in the First and Second congresses, as representative from Fayette County in the Third Congress, and as senator from Fayette, Bastrop, and Gonzales in the Fourth and Fifth congresses. He was one of the first trustees of Baylor University, chief justice of Fayette County, 1844-48, and a member of the Texas Veterans Association. He lived at Winchester until his death in December 1879 and was buried at La Grange. Source
Nicholas Mosby Dawson, hero of the Texas Revolution, was born in Woolford, Kentucky, in 1808. He later moved with his parents to White County, Tennessee, where he attended school. He moved to Texas in 1834 and settled in Fayette County near the home of a relative, William Mosby Eastland. Dawson enlisted in the revolutionary army on January 24, 1836, and within a week was elected to the rank of second lieutenant of Company B, Texas Volunteers. He participated in the battle of San Jacinto. He served as captain of a militia company in 1840 during an Indian campaign in what is now Mitchell County. In August 1837 he was a lieutenant in Company C and in 1842 was captain of a company of volunteers under John H. Moore. He was residing in Fayette County when Adrián Woll invaded Texas in the fall of 1842. Dawson organized a small company of some fifteen men and left La Grange on September 16, 1842. Soon his company numbered fifty-three men, recruited from settlements in Fayette, Gonzales, and DeWitt counties. While attempting to join Texas forces under Mathew Caldwell on Salado Creek near San Antonio, Dawson and his men were surrounded by a large number of Mexican cavalry on September 18. The following battle, known as the Dawson Massacre, resulted in the death or capture of nearly all the Texans. Dawson was among the casualties. On September 18, 1848, his remains and those of thirty-five other victims of the battle were buried along with casualties from the Mier expedition in a vault on Monument Hill near La Grange. Dawson County is named for Nicholas Dawson. Source
Washington H. Secrest, soldier, moved to Texas with his brother Felix G. Secrest in 1835. During the Texas Revolution he enlisted as a private in Capt. Henry W. Karnes's company of Mirabeau B. Lamar's cavalry corps but most often was on detached service as a scout with Erastus (Deaf) Smith. In this capacity he was with Moseley Baker at the time of the evacuation and burning of San Felipe, and, when Baker authorized the troops to loot the town before it was put to the torch, Secrest chose a small Bible belonging to Sumner Bacon as his part of the spoils. Years later he joined the Methodist Church at Rutersville; he claimed that he had read the Bible every day since the fall of San Felipe. According to the recollections of pioneer memoirist Dilue Rose Harris, Secrest was one of the men who captured General Santa Anna after the battle of San Jacinto. After that battle Secrest was elected captain of the Washington Cavalry Company, a post he held from June until the company was disbanded on October 23, 1836. For his services he was granted a headright in Colorado County in 1838. By 1841 he was living in Fort Bend County, where he was authorized a league and a labor of land on January 16, 1850. On September 22, 1842, Sam Houston commissioned Secrest to raise a company of rangers in response to Rafael Vásquez's raid on San Antonio. Secrest was characterized as something of a daredevil, and Houston wrote to him, "Your characteristic activity, caution and valor will be of great use, and contribute much to the success of our arms." On July 10, 1852, the Texas State Gazette erroneously reported that Secrest had been shot and killed at Columbus, Texas, during an altercation with a man named Taylor on June 21. On July 17 the newspaper rescinded that report and stated that Secrest had been stabbed but was recovering. He died of natural causes at his home at Columbus on February 3, 1854. Source
Willet Holmes, early settler and public official, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, on May 14, 1807. He moved to Texas in 1833 and after a short time returned for his family to the United States. There he assisted Gen. Thomas J. Chambers in raising two companies for the Texas army. Holmes took his family to Texas in 1837 and settled in Milam County, which he represented in the Seventh Congress of the republic. In 1846 he was ordained a Baptist deacon. He lived for a time in Washington County, where he ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in 1856, and in Burleson County, where he was elected commissioner in August 1858. From 1861 to 1869 he lived in Grimes County, and from 1880 to 1886 he lived in Lee County. His first wife, Amelia R. (Cummins), died in 1843; Holmes married Mary Jane Newman of Virginia in 1853. He was still living in 1892. Source
William Mosby Eastland, soldier, was born in Woodford County, Kentucky, on March 21, 1806, the son of Thomas B. and Nancy (Mosby) Eastland. As a child he moved with his family to Tennessee where he was reared and educated. As a young man he entered the timber business and was persuaded by his friend and former neighbor Edward Burleson to move to Texas in 1834. With his wife and children, two brothers, and a cousin, Nicholas Mosby Dawson, he settled near the site of present La Grange in Fayette County. From July 25 to September 13, 1835, Eastland served as first lieutenant of a volunteer company under Col. John H. Moore against the Waco and Tawakoni Indians. From September 28 to December 13, 1835, he served under Capt. Thomas Alley and participated in the siege of Bexar, and from March 1 to May 30, 1836, he served under Capt. Thomas J. Rabb.
Eastland was elected second lieutenant of Rabb's Company F of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers, on April 3, 1836, and advanced to first lieutenant when Rabb left the company and 1st Lt. W. J. E. Heard moved up to captain. At the battle of San Jacinto, according to Robert Hancock Hunter, when Sam Houston ordered that the killing of Mexican fugitives cease and that his men begin to take prisoners, Eastland responded, "Boys take prisners, you know how to take prisners, take them with the but of guns, club guns, & said remember the Alamo remember Laberde [La Bahía], club guns, right & left, nock there brains out."
Eastland enlisted in the Texas Rangers on September 5, 1836, and on December 14, 1836, succeeded Capt. M. Andrew as commander, but when he attempted to instill military discipline in their ranks the men "marched out, stacked their arms, told him to go to hell and they would go home." According to Walter P. Webb, however, Eastland yielded gracefully, maintained the rangers' respect, and continued to serve until as late as January 22, 1838. In 1839 he was elected captain of one of the three companies that campaigned against the Comanches on the upper Colorado River.
Eastland's wife, the former Florence Yellowly, died in September 1837, and in 1839 he married Louisa Mae M. Smith, the daughter of Rev. Dr. William P. Smith, a Methodist minister. By 1840 he owned 5,535 acres under survey in Bastrop County and four town lots in Bastrop. On January 31, 1840, Eastland was elected one of three land commissioners for Fayette County.
In response to the raid of Adrián Woll in 1842, Eastland raised a company that he led to San Antonio; but he arrived too late to take part in the battle of Salado Creek. He participated in the pursuit, however. His company was incorporated into Col. James R. Cook's First Regiment, Second Brigade, of Gen. Alexander Somervell's Army of the South West for the subsequent Somervell expedition. Eastland, eager for revenge for the killing of his cousin Nicholas Mosby Dawson and his nephew Robert Moore Eastland by Woll's men, chose to remain on the Rio Grande with William S. Fisher's command when Somervell ordered his expedition to return to San Antonio. Eastland was elected captain of Company B for the Mier expedition. He was taken captive with his men after the battle of Mier on December 26, 1842, and marched to the interior of Mexico. There he participated in the Texans' abortive escape attempt and was the first of the Texans to draw a fatal black bean, the only officer of the expedition to do so. In a brief private interview with Fenton M. Gibson Eastland said, "For my country I have offered all my earthly aspiration and for it I now lay down my life. I never have feared death nor do I now. For my unjustifiable execution I wish no revenge, but die in full confidence of the Christian faith." After giving his money to his brother-in-law, Robert Smith (who responded with the joyous shout that he had "made a raise!"), and sending word to his wife that "I die in the faith in which I have lived", Eastland was shot to death, on March 25, 1843. Diarist Israel Canfield, to whom Eastland was handcuffed on the march to Salado, observed with some satisfaction that Robert Smith later died at Perote Prison.
On February 17, 1844, the Texas Congress passed a bill for the relief of Eastland's family. In 1848 Eastland's remains, together with those of the other Mier victims, were moved to Monument Hill. near La Grange for reinterment. Eastland was a cousin of the famed Confederate partisan ranger Col. John Singleton Mosby. His nephew, Charles Cooper Eastland, a private in Capt. Jacob Roberts's Company F of Col. John Coffee Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, died in Mexico City on December 20, 1847, during the Mexican War. Another nephew, William Mosby Eastland II, was born on March 15, 1843, ten days before the death of his uncle at Salado. Eastland County is named in Eastland's honor. Source
Shubael Marsh, one of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born in Portland, Maine. He took the oath of loyalty to the Mexican government in April 1824 and received title to a sitio of land in what is now Brazoria County on July 8, 1824. The census of March 1826 listed him as a single man, aged between twenty-five and forty. In August 1830 he was living at Brazoria when he was appointed to collect money to supply an army in case of a Spanish invasion. As síndico procurador, he presided over an election at Bolivar on December 12, 1830. In 1831 he married Lucinda Pitts, and he and his brothers-in-law, Levi and John Pitts, lived west of Hidalgo in Washington County. Marsh applied for three-fourths of a league of land on Spring Creek on November 5, 1835. He petitioned for the organization of Washington municipality and in May 1839 was a trustee of Independence Female Academy. He died in 1868. Source