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The Historical Story
of Bee County Texas By Camp Ezell
The Irish colonists had barely become settled when there came messages that Texans were rebelling against the Mexican government. Santa Anna had named himself dictator of Mexico and planned to abolish the system of federal government in favor of centralism, and the state of Coahuila and Texas was one province that was opposed to the surrender of state’s rights. (Oberste’s “Texas Irish Empresarios and Their Colonies.”) A movement for complete independence from Mexico experienced a rapid growth.
To add fuel to the fire, Santa Anna sent his brother-in-law (some historians say he was a nephew), General Martin Perfecto y Cos, to Texas with approximately five hundred men, and a large warship bringing the armed forces entered Copano Bay the latter part of September 1835 and landed at Copano Wharf. (Hobart Huson.)
Empresario James Power and Walter Lambert of Refugio had a conference with General Cos, and Power said: “I wish you had not come.” Cos replied: “It is too late now, besides a soldier can only obey.” Cos and his officers moved from Copano to Refugio Mission, while the solders transported supplies by oxcarts, obtained from Mexican settlers, across the prairie from the coast, and encamped along the banks of Mission River. Cos sent a messenger to Victoria and Goliad to inform the people that the Mexican army had arrived. Other messengers informed citizens of distant settlements, and within a day or two most of the Texas colonists had received the news.
Cos left October I for Goliad and arrived there on the following day. On October 5 the Mexican forces marched to Bexar, where Cos met defeat in his first fight with the Texans.
At the beginning there was a mixed feeling among the colonists of this area about the arrival of the Mexican soldiers. But as it became known generally that Texans’ rights were being taken away by the dictator Santa Anna, the Irish colonists, who had been loyal to the government that had given them land grants, fell in line with the revolutionists and many of them fought for Texas independence.
It is not the purpose of this writer to give a historical account of the brief but tragic war with the mother country which started in October 1835 and ended with the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, when Santa Anna surrendered at the Battle of San Jacinto and acknowledged the independence of the State of Texas. History books are replete with these details. We are concerned only with the colonists in what is now known as Bee County who had parts in the revolution.
Grace Bauer said that John O’Toole and John Williams were captured when sent to warn San Patricio. On Sunday morning, December 20, 835, eleven Bee County settlers, including Timothy Hart, William Quinn, James O’Connor, James Saint John, and William Saint John, “signed at Goliad the first Declaration of Independence, second only to the March 2, 1836, Declaration at Washingfon-on-the-Brazos.”
Among those who perished with Fannin and his men at Goliad on Palm Sunday March 27, 1836, were Bee colonists John Kelly, William Quinn, Thomas Quirk, Edward Ryan, John Fadden, and perhaps others.
Father Oberste names the following colonists who were with General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto: From Refugio were Walter Lambert, Charles Malone, Thomas O’Connor, and Daniel O’Driscoll, and from San Patricio were William Cassidy, James O’Connor, George Morris, and Martin O’Toole.
After the surrender of Santa Anna, Texas became a republic, and at the first national election Sam Houston was chosen as president. They also voted to join the United States, but the powers of Europe, especially France and Great Britain, wanted Texas to remain independent, fearing that the United States would gain control of the Southwest. However, on December 29, 1845, Texas joined the Union and remained a state until March 1861, when Texas seceded and joined the Confederate States of America. (World Book Encyclopedia.)
When Texas became affiliated with the United States on December 29, 1845, it was with the understanding that Texas could withdraw from the Union at any time. Therefore, Texas was the only state that had a legal right to secede and join the Confederate States. But when the United States readmitted Texas to the Union after the Civil War, it was specified that Texas could never withdraw again.
Following the Texas Revolution, Timothy Hart’s son, James, was captured and held for ransom by the Indians.
The last fight with the Indians in Bee County took place five miles west of Petfus on the ranch that later was owned by Will Fox, who died in 1956. The skirmish with the Red Men occurred during the I 870s. Bill Tomlinson headed a posse to hunt marauding Karankawas who had stolen horses. The plunderers had stationed a sentinel in a large Live Oak tree (which still stands there and could tell the tale better than this writer if it could talk), but during the hours just before an early breakfast the watchman nodded occasionally. And yet, between nods, he discovered movement in the high grass and uttered an Indian yell. The White Men fired shots from cap and ball guns, and a number of Redskins hit the grass. The rest of them fled. Several stolen horses were recovered. And from that time there never was recorded another fight with Indians in Bee County. (Bee-Picayune October 6, 1958).
In 1841-1842 Refugio was raided when the government of Mexico undertook to reconquer Texas under the Mier Expedition. Grace Bauer lists Bee County colonists Michael Fox, James Fox, John Fox, William Saint John, and James Saint John among the prisoners who were captured. And when Somervell led an expedition to Mexico to recapture them, James Burke and John Ryan Jr. were killed, and when the prisoners drew beans for freedom, John Corrigan picked a white one and came home with the others who were released.
According to historians, the first cattle in Texas came from Mexico and the cattle in Mexico had their origin in Spain. It was from this early importation of cattle that the Texas Longhorn was produced. During the Texas revolution, the Texas soldiers made use of the half-wild cattle scattered over the unfenced areas of the state. During the days of the republic (I 836-1845) the citizens of Texas depended upon stock raising as a major source of income. But after Texas joined the Union and the War With Mexico ensued, cattle in the area again were used to feed the Union soldiers.
There were no railroads in this part of the state and freighting was done by wagon. Two wagon roads crossed what is now Bee County from Mexico City to Austin and other trading posts. Freighting was one of the main means of livelihood for men who were not engaged in the cattle industry. Most of the supplies for Bee County people were brought from Saint Marys, the principal seaport of South Texas. The teamsters used covered wagons to protect the merchandise they brought. During rainy weather some of the wagon sheets were topped with cowhides. Brakes were installed on truck wagons to slow down the movement of the vehicles when descending an embankment to a creek or rivulet. Teamsters who were unable to get brakes would tie a rear wheel of the wagon to the body of the vehicle until the bottom of the creek was reached then untie it and proceed to climb the bank.
The Historical Story
of Bee County Texas By Camp Ezell
Updated Thursday, December 21, 2006 21:02
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