October 30, 2012

John Crittenden Duval (1816-1897)

John Crittenden Duval, writer, son of Nancy (Hynes) and William Pope Duval, was born at Bardstown, Kentucky, on March 14, 1816, and grew up in Tallahassee after his father was appointed to a federal judgeship in what was then Florida Territory. Duval returned to Bardstown in 1831 with his mother to continue his education at St. Joseph College. Late in 1835 he left the college to join a small company organized by his brother Capt. Burr H. Duval to fight with the Texans against Mexico. The brothers were with James W. Fannin's army when it surrendered to the Mexican forces under José de Urrea. In the Goliad Massacre on Palm Sunday, 1836, Burr Duval was killed, but John escaped. Not long afterwards he entered the University of Virginia to study engineering. He returned to Texas by 1840 and became a land surveyor. In 1845 he was, alongside William A. A. (Bigfoot) Wallace, a member of John C. (Jack) Hays's company of Texas Rangers.

Duval did not favor secession, but he joined the Confederate Army as a private, declining a commission. He was a captain by the war's end. He liked to be out in wilderness places, to loiter and to read, write, and recollect. His writings justify his being called the first Texas man of letters. Early Times in Texas was published serially in Burke's Weekly at Macon, Georgia, in 1867, although it did not appear in book form (and then only as a pamphlet printed on rotten paper) until 1892. The story of Duval's remarkable escape from the Goliad Massacre and of his more remarkable adventures before he rejoined human society became a Texas classic. Of all personal adventures of old-time Texans it is perhaps the best written and the most interesting. The Young Explorers (189?), a narrative with a fictional thread, a book for boys, was published as a sequel to Early Times in Texas. Duval's most artistic and most important book is The Adventures of Bigfoot Wallace, the Texas Ranger and Hunter (1870). Always free and at home with himself, Bigfoot opened up to his old friend Duval with gusto, and Duval helped him stretch the blanket. He died in Fort Worth on January 15, 1897. Source 

COORDINATES
30° 16.515
-097° 43.632

Section 1
Oakwood Cemetery
Austin

October 23, 2012

Jerome B. Alexander (?-1842)

Jerome B. Alexander, soldier of the Republic of Texas, moved to Texas in January 1832. During the Texas Revolution he served as a private in Capt. John York's volunteer company at the siege of Bexar and as a private in Capt. Moseley Baker's Company D of Col. Edward Burleson's First Regiment, Texas Volunteers, at the battle of San Jacinto. He was elected clerk of the Third Judicial District court in January 1838 and was reelected in January 1842. During this period he was a resident of Fayette County with title to 200 acres of land and an additional 611 acres under survey. He also owned two town lots in La Grange, four horses, fifty cattle, and a silver watch. He had an additional 1,476 acres under survey in Gonzales County. When Adrián Woll raided San Antonio in 1842, Alexander was elected lieutenant in the volunteer company of Capt. Nicholas M. Dawson. He was killed in action in the infamous Dawson Massacre on September 18, 1842. He was buried with his companions at Monument Hill near La Grange, Fayette County. Source

COORDINATES
29° 53.339
-096° 52.618


Monument Hill State Historic Site
La Grange

October 16, 2012

Benjamin Rush Milam (1788-1835)

Ben Milam, soldier, colonizer, and entrepreneur, was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on October 20, 1788, the fifth of the six children of Moses and Elizabeth Pattie (Boyd) Milam. He had little or no formal schooling. He enlisted in the Kentucky militia and fought for several months in the War of 1812. When his period of enlistment was completed he returned to Frankfort. In 1818 he was in Texas trading with the Comanche Indians on the Colorado River when he met David G. Burnet. The two became friends. In New Orleans in 1819 Milam met José Félix Trespalacios and James Long, who were planning an expedition to help the revolutionaries in Mexico and Texas gain independence from Spain. Milam joined Trespalacios and was commissioned a colonel. While they sailed to Veracruz, Long marched to La Bahía, which he easily captured, only to discover that the people and soldiers there were revolutionaries, not Royalists. They gave him a hostile reception, and he moved on to San Antonio. In Veracruz and Mexico City, Trespalacios and Milam met with the same reception that Long had received and were imprisoned. Ultimately, with General Long, they were able to legitimize their purposes and intentions to the new revolutionary government which, in turn, accepted and treated them with respect and generosity.

Long was shot and killed by a guard under circumstances that convinced Milam that the killing was plotted by Trespalacios. Milam and several friends then planned to kill Trespalacios. The plot was discovered, however, and Milam and his friends were imprisoned in Mexico City. Through the influence of Joel R. Poinsett, United States minister, all were released. By the spring of 1824 Milam returned to Mexico, which now had adopted the Constitution of 1824 and had a republican form of government. In Mexico City he met Arthur G. Wavell, an Englishman who had become a general in the Mexican army. Trespalacios, now prominent in the new government also, made overtures to Milam to renew their friendship, and Milam accepted. He was granted Mexican citizenship and commissioned a colonel in the Mexican army in 1824. In 1825-26 he became Wavell's partner in a silver mine in Nuevo León; the two also obtained empresario grants in Texas. Wavell managed the mining in Mexico and leased the most productive mine to an English company, which by 1828 was unable to fulfill the terms of their contract. In 1829 Milam sought to organize a new mining company in partnership with David G. Burnet, but they were unable to raise the necessary capital. In April 1830 the Mexican Congress passed a law prohibiting further immigration of United States citizens into Texas. This was one reason why Milam, as Wavell's agent for his Red River colony, and Robert M. Williamson, as agent for Milam's colony, were not able to introduce the required number of settlers specified in their empresario contracts, which were due to expire in 1832. During this time Milam removed the great Red River raft of debris, which for years had blocked traffic in the upper part of the Red River for all vessels except canoes and small, flat-bottomed boats. He then purchased a steamboat, the Alps, the first of its kind to pass through the channel.

In 1835 Milam went to Monclova, the capital of Coahuila and Texas, to urge the new governor, Agustín Viesca, to send a land commissioner to Texas to provide the settlers with land titles. Viesca agreed to do this. However, before Milam could leave the city, word came that Antonio López de Santa Anna had overthrown the representative government of Mexico, had established a dictatorship, and was en route to Texas with an army. Viesca fled with Milam, but both were captured and imprisoned at Monterrey. Milam eventually escaped and headed for the Texas border, which he reached in October 1835. By accident he encountered a company of soldiers commanded by George Collinsworth, from whom he heard of the movement in Texas for independence. Milam joined them, helped capture Goliad, and then marched with them to join the main army to capture San Antonio. While returning from a scouting mission in the southwest on December 4, 1835, Milam learned that a majority of the army had decided not to attack San Antonio as planned but to go into winter quarters. Convinced that this decision would be a disaster for the cause of independence, Milam then made his famous, impassioned plea: "Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?" Three hundred volunteered, and the attack, which began at dawn on December 5, ended on December 9 with the surrender of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos and the Mexican army. Milam did not survive to witness the victory, however. On December 7 he was shot in the head by a sniper and died instantly. In 1897 the Daughters of the Republic of Texas erected a monument at Milam's gravesite in Milam Park, San Antonio. The marker was moved in 1976, and the location of the grave was forgotten until 1993, when a burial was unearthed that archeologists think is probably Milam's. Source

COORDINATES
29° 25.570
-098° 29.978


Milam Park
San Antonio

October 9, 2012

John Winfield Scott Dancy (1810-1866)

John Dancy, early legislator, farmer, and railroad promoter, was born to William and Priscilla (Turner) Dancy in Greensville County, Virginia, on September 3, 1810. He was a descendant of Francis de Dance, a Castilian nobleman who fled persecution in France. Dancy had a sister and at least one brother, Charles, who spent time in Texas. General Winfield Scott was Dancy's cousin. After growing up in Decatur, Alabama, Dancy studied law, science, and languages and attended Nashville University. He received a law license in Tennessee from Judge John Catron, United States Supreme Court justice from 1837 to 1865. In July 1835 Dancy married Evalina Rhodes. After her death the following summer he decided to move to Texas. On December 28, 1836, he and Francis R. Lubbock arrived at Velasco on the schooner Corolla. Dancy became a citizen of Texas on January 13, 1837, before Judge Robert M. Williamson. He traveled throughout the republic and in 1838 purchased 640 acres in Fayette County. He introduced long-staple cotton to Texas and developed the first hydraulic ram in the state to provide irrigation for his plantation. In 1841 he was elected Fayette County representative to the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas. He later served in the Senate of the Second and Fourth state legislatures (1847-48 and 1851-53) and in the House of the Sixth Legislature (1855-56). He was considered an eloquent but long-winded speaker. Dancy ran for governor as a Democrat in 1853 but placed last in a field of six candidates led by Elisha M. Pease. In February 1861 he was a delegate to the Secession Convention.

His early advocacy of railroad development earned him the nickname "Father of Texas Railroads." During his first legislative term he advocated annexing California and constructing a railroad to connect the West Coast to Texas. He helped secure charters for the Harrisburg Railroad and Trading Company and the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway; he became a vice president of the latter and in 1866 transferred it to the Southern Pacific. In 1850 Dancy proposed using public lands to finance railroad construction. He maintained a law practice in La Grange and was a developer of Colorado City, the site chosen by the legislature in 1838 for the new capital but vetoed by President Sam Houston. Dancy was a member of the Texas Monumental Committee, formed to raise funds for a monument to men killed during the Mier Expedition and Dawson Massacre, and edited the committee's newspaper, the Texas Monument, from July 1850 to June 1851. He was a founding trustee of Rutersville College. During the Mexican invasions of 1842, Dancy served in the First Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers under John Coffee Hays. From May to July 1847 he served as a private in a spy company of Texas mounted volunteers commanded by Benjamin McCulloch. He also fought in Indian skirmishes. He married Lucy Ann Nowlin of Austin on October 25, 1849. They had a son and five daughters. Dancy died in La Grange on February 13, 1866, and was buried in the city cemetery. Source

COORDINATES
29° 54.625
-096° 52.090

Section 1
Old La Grange City Cemetery
La Grange

October 2, 2012

Joshua Parker (1790-1838)

Joshua Parker, member of Stephen F. Austin's Old Three Hundred colonists, was born on April 13, 1790, in Grayson County, Virginia. He was living in Arkansas in 1821, when he became acquainted with Moses Austin and enrolled in the proposed Austin colony in Texas. He and his colonist partner William Parks received title to a sitio of land in what is now Wharton County on July 24, 1824. Parker's home place on Palmetto Creek was adjacent to Stephen F. Austin's headquarters. The census of 1826 listed Parker as a farmer and stock man, a single man aged between twenty-five and forty. He married Nancy Whiteside in 1828. Evidently he dealt extensively in livestock. He bought a mule from James Gaines in 1824, ordered horses from Josiah H. Bell in 1826, had Austin buy him an ox ring from Nicholas Clopper in August 1826, and had a quarrel with Aylett C. Buckner while he and Buckner were driving a herd of horses from the Rio Grande. In November 1830 Parker was listed among persons who must comply with the conditions of their grants or have their lots sold by the ayuntamiento of San Felipe. He was an acquaintance of William B. Travis at San Felipe in 1833. Parker died on July 24, 1838, at Independence, Texas. Source

COORDINATES
30° 19.729
-096° 21.675


Old Independence Cemetery
Independence