Oak Tree Under the Live Oak Tree
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Chapter Two: Pre-Seguin to 1835

Col. Josť Antonio Navarro and his ranch

     A number of events began to unfold in the history of Seguin beginning with the year 1714. In that year, an elderly gentleman from Gevauden, France, made a decision that would help shape the Texas Revolution and ultimately give a small Texas settlement his name. Guillermo de Seguin, upon receiving the appropriate papers, left Paris, France, and sailed for the new world. Ultimately he settled in Aguascalientes, Mexico. His age was 73. With him were four sons- Jose, Bartolome, Jose Luis, and Jose Santiago.

      The latter, Jose Santiago, unknowingly set into motion, through birth, events that would help lead to the Anglo colonization of Texas.

      On May 26, 1782, Juan Maria Jose Erasmo de Jesus Seguin entered a world in which he would be an active participant. Erasmo Seguin's baptism took place at San Fernando de Bexar (San Antonio) on June 2, 1782. The third of seven sons would eventually die at his home, Casa Blanca, on November 17, 1857, just outside of Floresville, Texas.

      In between these years, he made his mark on Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo Texas. He was, indeed, a true representative of the multicultural history of Texas.

      After Mexico gained its independence from Spain, Erasmo Seguin would be named the Postmaster General of the Department of Bexar, in 1822.

      Erasmo and his wife moved to San Antonio some time around the turn of the nineteenth century. He purchased one of five lots off the Military Plaza in San Antonio. His lot faced Nueva Street between Puenta (present day Dwyer) and the Acequia Principal, (major water supply route, probably the San Antonio River).

      On October 27, 1806, Juan Nepuomocemo de Seguin, one of three sons, was born, and on November 3 he was baptized by Father Jose Clemente de Arrocha at San Fernando de Bexar. Juan Seguin was destined, more than his two brothers, to become a leader in Texas politics and military history. He was also destined to become ridiculed during the period of the Texas Republic. He would be so ridiculed that he would die in exile in Nuevo Laredo, in 1890. Not until 1974-1976 when, through the efforts of Seguin Mayor Al Koebig and the Texas and Mexican Governments, would Juan Seguin be publicly exonerated and reinterred on a grassy knoll on Saunders Street, overlooking the Guadalupe County fairgrounds.

      The life Juan Seguin led was as charismatic and exciting as the man himself. How did he fit into the maelstrom of events that led to Texas Statehood?

      The simple answer is that he observed, became a part of, and helped lead his people - Mexican and Anglo - through a maze of trails created by human events.

      During his formative years, several events occurred which caught his eyes, his interest, and helped shape his goals.

      The first event that occurred was the interest of settlers in the value of land, agriculture, and real estate development. Jose de la Baume, who settled in San Antonio in 1806, became interested in purchasing a five-league tract of land in the Capote Hills in present day Guadalupe County - today often referred to as the Sand Hills.

      The political chief in San Antonio, Antonio Cordero, agreed to the purchase, but the tide of Mexican revolutionary fervor overcame the personal desires of the early landholders. Revolution began in earnest when Father Hidalgo, in Dolores, Mexico, rang out with his famous cry for Mexican Independence - The Grito de Dolores. Political and military confusion spread throughout Mexico and Texas.

      By 1821 Mexico succeeded in gaining its independence and by 1828, Jose de la Baume received a concession for six leagues of land in the Capote Hills.

      He was not alone during those years. Other Mexican families also secured title to lands in the Seguin region. Jose Maria Salinas, Eligio Gortari (one league south of the Guadalupe River opposite present day Seguin), and the Jose Antonio Navarro Ranch, and other far sighted notables, would encourage Seguin to become involved in real estate as well as matters of human interest.

      Juan Seguin was an observer rather than a participant of the Mexican Revolution. He was four years old when it started, and he would attain the age of 15 when it was over. Events unfolded quickly during these youthful, wide-eyed years, and he watched his father work.

      His father, Erasmo, was a sound, hardworking man who understood the changing times. He understood America's interest in Texas and the need for Mexican Independence. He had witnessed the filibustering events that revealed the interests of the United States. The Neutral Ground Treaty between General Wilkinson of the United States and General Simon Herrera, which set up a buffer zone between Spanish Texas and Louisiana in 1806 was also noted. The Gutierrez-MacGee expedition of 1812-1813, and its battles with Spanish-Mexican soldiers around San Antonio and the Medina River, attested to the sincerity of American desires for settlement in Texas and Texas Independence. Erasmo Seguin also made note of the capture of Lieutenant Zebulon Pike during his reconnaissance of New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado, and his imprisonment in Texas.

      Erasmo Seguin was a well-informed man who realized that two things were inevitable - American involvement in Texas, and Mexican Independence. How could he help guide his family and friends through all of this?

      Respected as a sensible man, Erasmo quietly become more involved with Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo citizens. He imparted his values of honesty, loyalty, and hard work to his family. His belief in education as a part of the future of Texas was shown in 1812 when he joined with Juan Zambrano in raising 855 pesos to build a school in San Antonio.

      What he wanted for San Antonio and Texas was a peaceful coming together and a mutual cultural acceptance between the Mexicans and Anglos. In a word, he wanted to be as accommodating as possible.

      These things he shared with his family. Jim Bowie, the Navarro family, Jose de la Baume, and many other families became friends of the Seguin family.

      In 1820, a proud but semi-broke entrepreneur from Missouri came to Texas. His name was Moses Austin. He had a dream - to establish an officially accepted Anglo Colony in Texas. His son, Stephen Fuller Austin, would see to it that his fatherÕs dream came true. In so doing he would become the Father of Texas.

      In December of 1820, Moses Austin entered San Antonio, just five days before Christmas. On December 23, the 59-year-old Austin presented himself to Governor Antonio de Martinez and asked permission to bring in families to settle in Texas. His request was denied. As fate would have it he encountered an old friend who had the confidence of the Governor. This friend was the Baron de Bastrop, a native of Holland and, like Austin, an entrepreneur. The elder Austin, after his meeting with the Governor, told the Baron of his plight. The Baron de Bastrop offered to intercede on Austin's behalf. The intercession was successful. Governor Martinez endorsed the request and it was approved January 17, 1821, by the Spanish Authorities in Monterrey.

      Moses Austin left for Missouri shortly thereafter to begin gathering families and making plans for colonization. He had been granted 200,000 acres of land, and he wanted to return in May.

      Wet, cold weather took its toll on the aging Austin. It took him three months to return to Missouri. During that time his son, Stephen F., was studying law in New Orleans, but he had planned to help his father get started in Texas.

      While in Natchitoches, Louisiana, waiting for his father to return, Stephen F. Austin learned that his father had passed away on June 10, 1821. Young Austin had a decision to make - continue his law studies or continue his father's work. He went to Texas, but not alone.

      He was met in Natchitoches by a party led by Jim Bowie and Erasmo Seguin. They had been dispatched by Governor Martinez to guide Moses Austin and his colonists into Texas.

      During the trip to San Antonio to claim his father's inheritance, the young Austin learned of the Plan of Iguala, which proclaimed Mexico free from Spain. He and Erasmo also became friends, so much so that he planned to learn as much of the Mexican culture as possible, to include the language.

      Austin learned, in August, that the Spanish Viceroy, Juan O'Dono-ju, recognized the independence of Mexico with Iturbide as its leader. Stephen F. Austin would have to go to Mexico City to determine if Mexico would recognize the Spanish colonization grant.

      Arriving in Mexico City April 29, 1822, the aspiring colonizer found a divided government. He also met other hopeful colonists, one of whom was Green De Witt who would found Gonzales in 1825. He met Haden Edwards who would receive a grant, along with De Witt, but would corrupt the grant and lead the Fredonian Rebellion. Mexico City teemed with political intrigue among the various factions.

      Finally on January 24, 1823, the Mexican Congress passed the General Colonization Law which also authorized Austin's contract to colonize. Political intrigue continued to dominate Mexican politics and shortly thereafter President Iturbide was forced to abdicate. Along with his abdication the colonization law was revoked, but fate again intervened and Austin was allowed to keep his contract. The other Anglo colonizers would have to wait until the Mexican Government could settle its internal organizational problems.

      On July 26, 1823, the Governor established the town of San Felipe de Austin, on the Brazos River, as the seat of government for Austin's colony. Austin lost no time to effect colonization. Working closely with the Baron de Bastrop as the government's land agent he succeeded in settling "The Old Three Hundred" by 1828.

      By 1825, the Mexican Government had pretty well stabilized. A new colonization law was issued and the provinces of Coahuila and Texas were merged into one Mexican State. The Capital was located at Saltillo.

      On April 15, 1825, another gentleman from Missouri, Green De Witt, successfully contracted to bring in 400 "Industrious Catholic settlers" to settle between the Lavaca and Guadalupe Rivers.

      De Witt's success in securing the grant was due in large part to Stephen F. Austin's vouching for De Witt to the Baron de Bastrop, who was then a member of the State Congress of the State of Coahuila and Texas. Austin had asked the Baron de Bastrop to wield as much influence as possible for Green De Witt to settle four hundred families just south of his, Austin's, colony.

      Thus the final stage was set for what would lead to the settlement of present day Seguin.

      During these few years of organization by Stephen F. Austin and Green De Witt, the Seguin family continued to flourish in San Antonio. Juan Seguin worked in real estate and successfully arranged for his father to purchase their homestead in present day Wilson County, near Floresville. The Seguin family had become close friends with the Flores family and Juan had married Maria Gertudes Flores. The homestead became known as La Casa Blanca and it was there, in 1857, that Erasmo Seguin would pass away.

      Erasmo had been appointed Postmaster General by the Mexican Government in 1822. This enabled him to continue being a prominent, well-respected citizen. He and his sons skillfully kept up their contacts with the Mexican and Anglo authorities, and continued to nurture their friendships with Stephen F. Austin and the new settlers in Green De Witt's Colony.

      Juan Seguin, by 1825, was an impressionable nineteen year old. He was curious about all the events that were taking place. He listened to his father, and wondered if there could be an independent State of Texas and if there could be a coming together of the new settlers and the native Tejanos.

      Young Seguin watched his father work laboriously to have laws passed by the Mexican government that were good for the settlers. Erasmo understood the settlers; he appreciated their needs and supported their desires for a separate state. There were just not enough settlers to justify another state administration.

      During the ten years of 1823 to 1833 the Seguin family and other Mexican families, such as the Navarros and Floreses, stood by the settlers, supporting their demands from the Mexican government.

      Also during these ten years, the Green De Witt Colony continued to expand, bringing the first settlers into the actual sites that would become Seguin and eventually Guadalupe County. Events were also unfolding in Mexico, dramatically so, that would further cause antagonisms between the Anglo settlers and Mexican authorities.

      According to Ethel Zively Rather's "De Witt's Colony" in the 1904 The Quarterly of The Texas State Historical Association, Green De Witt commissioned Major James Kerr to survey his land and establish a settlement. Major Kerr left his Senate Seat in Missouri with his wife and children to do the bidding of Green De Witt.

      While resting in Brazoria, his wife and two of his three children died of illness. Kerr left his third child with friends in San Felipe de Austin, and with six men - Erasmus 'Deaf' Smith, Basil Durbin, Geron Hinds, John Wightman, James Musick, and a Mister Strickland - set out to establish the colony.

      About two and a half miles east of where the gentle San Marcos River gives its hand in marriage to the Guadalupe River, Major Kerr and his men established the first site of Gonzales. By the end of August 1825, several cabins were erected and the first family, the Francis Berry family, settled. Major Kerr then drew plans for the town of Gonzales, so named in honor of the Provisional Governor of the State of Coahuila and Texas, Don Rafael Gonzales.

      About one year later disaster struck. After more settlers had arrived and settled, the Indians - either the Wacos or Tonkawas - attacked the small settlement. The attack occurred during the Fourth of July festivity period, 1826, when members of the settlement had gone to the Austin Colony to join friends and celebrate. Basil Durbin was badly wounded in the shoulder; John Wightman was found dead, scalped in Major Kerr's home.

      The apprehensive settlers retreated to the Lavaca River to regroup and make a decision about the future. They were 60 miles from the de Leon Colony in present day Victoria and 78 miles from San Antonio, and were the only Americans west of the Colorado River. In effect, if they returned, they had no one to rely on but themselves. Undaunted, they returned, more determined than ever to make their colony become a reality.

      The return in late 1827, was, however, not altogether a pleasant†one for it came about in part due to hostilities between the Anglo settlers and a Mexican settlement within the territory of Green De WittÕs land grant. One year prior to De Witt's Grant of 1825, a Martin de Leon had secured a land grant to establish a settlement in the same basic location where De Witt would be given his land grant. Green De Witt, upon learning of this, tried on several occasions to either rid his colony of the Mexican settlers or to expand the land size of his colony. Both de Leon and De Witt quarreled, and appealed to the Governor in San Antonio. De Leon made no effort to conceal the fact he was not going to move and that as a Mexican he had more rights than the Anglo colonizers.

      With the Fredonian Rebellion in Edward's Colony in 1827, Major Kerr's support of the Fredonian Rebellion, and the land dispute be-tween Green De Witt and de Leon, relationships between the local Anglos and Mexicans deteriorated. Governor Viesca, in order to allay as much of the problem as possible, ordered the removal of the Anglo settlers from its temporary safe settlement on the Lavaca River back to its original Gonzales site. Soldiers were dispatched to ensure this was accomplished. The settlers became angered at the Mexican authorities flexing their muscles, but frontier spirit prevailed. They would take matters into their own hands and work out their problems locally with the Indians and Mexican settlers at a later time.

      Between 1828 and 1831, the colony flourished as more than one hundred families settled in the colony. In 1831, Jose Antonio Navarro was appointed Commissioner of the Colony, and Byrd Lockhart was appointed Surveyor.

      Navarro close friend of the Seguins in San Antonio, had extensive powers as the commissioner and representative of the Mexican Government. His authority was absolute. Fortunately for the settlers he was an honest, prudent man who sought accommodations in almost every respect of administrative and cultural life. He was an independent, proud man who could see well into the future. So much was he respected that he would be one of two Mexicans penning his name to the eventual Texas Declaration of Independence. Later, as a prisoner in Santa Fe, 1842, he would courageously state that he would rather give up his life than deny his allegiance to Texas.

      No land could be granted without his approval; he signed almost all titles; designated lands for cultivation, irrigation or nonirrigation; and selected sites for new towns in the colony. He was to oversee the distribution of town lots, establish ferries, and have roads laid out. All of this he accomplished with no recorded notes of dispute between the people he represented and the Mexican authorities. Disputes that would arise would do so from events beyond his control.

      Perhaps the greatest dispute that set the wheels in motion for the Texas Revolution was the Mexican Decree of April 6, 1830.

      This decree came about due to a report by General Manuel Mier y Teran, "an astute soldier, scholar, and statesman." He was dispatched in 1828 to survey the eastern boundary of the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty that terminated the earlier Neutral Ground Agreement between Texas and Louisiana. He was also to determine if more military outposts were needed. His report concluded that the farther northeast he traveled the more discriminated against were the Mexicans. Mier y Teran reported that they were treated as inferiors, that the Mexican Colonization Laws were increasingly ignored by the Anglos and that the Anglos seemed to relish this flaunting of Mexican authority. He recommended that Mexico act immediately or Texas would be lost to the Anglos.

      Several of General Teran's recommendations were:

      1. Colonize Mexicans in Texas

      2. Colonize Germans and Swiss.

      3. Place more troops in Texas, preferably
           with convict soldiers who, upon
           completion of their enlistments,
           could become permanent settlers.

      The Mexican Government responded to his recommendations.

      Some of their 1830 decrees were:

      1. Further Anglo colonization was to            discontinue, however, Europeans would be            encouraged to colonize.

      2. Slavery would be outlawed.

      3. More troops would be sent to the            settlements, mostly convict-soldiers.

      The Americans were incensed and felt that their rights as citizens had been completely taken away. Not until after the Convention of 1832, with Stephen F. Austin representing the colonists, was part of the decree to be repealed in 1834, but at a very high cost to Mexican-Anglo relations.

      During this period of increased tensions, Green De Witt, through Navarro, requested a cannon and soldiers be sent to Gonzales for security of his settlement. The request was forwarded in 1830. In 1832, fifteen soldiers arrived with a six-pound cannon. Ironically the cannon would become the final cause of bloodshed leading to the Texas Revolution. The person who would provide the scrap shot for the cannon was one of the first two settlers in the Seguin area.

      His name was John Sowell. He arrived in Gonzales May 3, 1830. On May 29, 1830, his son-in-law, Umphries Branch, arrived. On May 5, 1831, John Sowell received title to his land. Umphries Branch received his title November 17, 1831, just six months later.

      Humphries Branch, with the help of John Sowell, erected the first cabin in present-day Seguin in 1832. Its location was on Elm Springs. Elm Springs source, according to a November 2, 1838 map of Seguin, is on East Center Street. It flows south and east through the old Hollamon Bottom, or present-day Glen Cove. The land Umphries Branch owned included almost all of present-day Seguin and extended east to about where Highway 123 by-pass is, and west to approximately where Texas Lutheran College is located, and Highway 46. His land would become known as the Umphries Branch League even though it would be sold in a few years to Thomas R. Miller who would fight and die at the Alamo.

      Umphries Branch's father-in-law, John Sowell, settled on a small creek that came to be known as Sowell Creek, although the Guadalupe County map shows it as Soul Creek. The Sowell settlement, like Elm Springs, was and remains to this day an idyllic location. Sowell Creek is just south of Highway 90-A and lies between Geronimo and Mill Creek. More immediately, Sowell Creek is just east of the Randolph Air Force Base Auxiliary Airfield.

      The Sowell family was a prosperous, enterprising family. In their first year they grew and raised corn and were able to eke out a modest living.

      As land became more scarce in the vicinity of Gonzales other settlers began to settle in what would become Guadalupe County. Set-tling in the vicinity of Mill Creek, east of Sowell Creek, and south of Highway 90-A, and basically in the area of present day Hidden Oaks, were the families of Dickenson, Baker, Tumlison, and by some reports, a Montgomery. However there is no deed list for the Montgomerys. Perhaps they were guests of one of the other families.

      While the small group of Anglo settlers in Seguin and the county were establishing themselves, events continued to occur that widened the gap between Mexico and the Anglo colonists in Texas. The area from San Antonio to Seguin (Guadalupe County) to Gonzales would become a crossroads of the Texas Revolution and the Republic's fight for survival.

      Juan Seguin was busy in San Antonio, helping his father, working for himself, and the military. He organized a Mexican Ranger Company in 1830 and stayed with it until 1835. In all probability the Company was organized to provide several services such as patrolling the Department of Bexar to ward off Indian attacks, to serve as a reminder to outlaws that there was some representation of law on the frontier, and to act as a reaction force for the small garrisons scattered throughout the Department. In effect, Mexico still governed her northern provinces and was committed to administering to their needs legally, politically, economically, and militarily.

      In the northeastern part of the Department, at Galveston and the mouth of the Brazos River, several incidents occurred which would also lead directly to the Texas Revolution.

      In 1831, Mexico had decided to establish a customs house at Galveston Bay. It was called Anahuac. Anahuac was to be protected by a garrison at the mouth of the Brazos River. The garrison was called Velasco. Both places were to be run by Americans who had joined the Mexican Army. Colonel John D. Bradburn would command the garrison. Bradburn decreed that all ships leaving Texas via the Brazos and other ports, had to clear through Anahuac.

      This angered the colonists for obvious reasons. In December, several colonists decided to ignore the decree and ran by the guard on the lower Brazos River. Shots were fired and a Mexican soldier was seriously wounded.

      Bradburn was a tyrant. He fully imposed his will on the settlements by:

    1. Arresting Francisco Madero, General Land      Commissioner of Texas who was giving titles of      land to the colonists.

    2. He suspended the town government of Liberty.

    3. He used slave labor for public works without paying      the owners.

    4. He commandeered supplies for his garrison that       were destined for the colonists.

    5. He declared martial law.

    6. He arrested William B. Travis and Patrick Jack      because they allegedly sent him nasty letters.

      One can imagine how this raised the anger of the independent, free thinking frontiersmen.

      The settlers began to organize and on June 10, 1832, Bradburn's garrison was besieged. After repeated negotiations the settlers passed a resolution to support Santa Anna, who at the time was engaged in overthrowing President Bustamante in Mexico City. Bradburn worked for Bustamante. While waiting for support from Santa Anna, the settlers sent John Austin to Brazoria to get a cannon for their attack on Bradburn's garrison.

      Before Austin returned, though, the Mexican garrison at Nacogdoches rushed to Velasco and quickly defused the imminent battle by relieving Bradburn of his command and consenting to the settlers' demands.

      Austin was unaware of these events. Having secured his cannon in Brazoria, he started for Anahuac by boat. The commander at Velasco fired on Austin's party. When the smoke cleared from the battle, ten Texans and five Mexicans were dead. The garrison was abandoned.

      Incited by success, the Anglo settlers continued their insurrection. Within months the Nacogdoches garrison was abandoned, as was the post of Tenoxtitlan. The northeastern region of Texas was free of Mexican garrisons.

      Events continued to unfold quickly, and the seeds of revolution began to sprout.

      On October 1, 1832, 58 delegates from 16 districts responded to a call for a convention at San Felipe de Austin. Stephen F. Austin was elected President. A number of resolutions were adopted to be presented to the government of Coahuila and Texas and the Mexican government. Several of the resolutions resulting in petitions to the governmental bodies were:

      1. Repeal that part of the law of April 6, 1830 that            forbade Anglo-American immigration

      2. Establish Texas as a separate Mexican State, and

      3. Suspend tariff duties to the colonists for three            years.

      There were many other resolutions but these were the main ones. The convention adjourned October 6, and dispatched their petitions to San Antonio's political chief to present to the government.

      Santa Anna became defensive as he feared that if the petitions were approved the settlers would next declare themselves independent of Mexico.

      The political chief was instructed to tell the Anglo settlers they were in violation of the Mexican Constitution and its laws. By now it should have appeared to the Mexican government that the Anglo settlers, working closely with the native Tejanos, would not stop pressing their demands until they were met.

      On April 1, 1833, after organizing their districts into different committees, the colonists again met at San Felipe de Austin. They prepared their petitions asking for the same things as in 1832 but added a constitution drafted by Sam Houston's committee and David Burnet's written logic on why Texas should be independent. Erasmo Seguin had been a part of all the proceedings.

      On April 22, 1833, Stephen F. Austin began his journey to Mexico City to personally present the petition to the Mexican government. He was the logical choice, for no Anglo colonist better understood the intrigues and culture of Mexico and her government. Austin, respected as much by the Mexicans as by the Anglos, was the bridge between two cultures.

      Arriving on July 18, Austin learned that Santa Anna was on vacation, while Vice-President Farias attempted to implement some of Santa Anna's reforms. Putting Stephen F. Austin off for several months angered Austin. It was an insult not only to Austin's professional character but also a slap at the colonists, who were trying to be open, candid, and above board.

      Finally the two men, Farias and Austin, met. The meeting was cordial. The petition was accepted and presented to the House of Deputies. Due to a cholera outbreak, however, Farias suspended all business in the Capital. Austin's patience broke. On October 1, he met with Farias and in no diplomatic terms told Farias that if the government did not approve the petition that Texas would go ahead and organize its own government. Still irritated, Austin also wrote to the government in San Antonio instructing them to go ahead and make plans to organize a State government.

      While the letter was enroute through Saltillo to San Antonio, Austin met with Santa Anna on November 5. Santa Anna agreed to all the petitions of the 1832 and 1833 conventions with the exception of letting Texas become an independent State. On December 10, satisfied he had represented the colonists well, Austin left for San Antonio. Little did he know his letter had been intercepted. When he arrived in Saltillo he was arrested, returned to Mexico City, and held as a prisoner until July 1835. His crime: open public inflammation against Mexico and encouraging the breaking of Mexican law.

      In Texas there seemed to be an ambivalent attitude by the Anglos toward the Mexican government. There were two extremes - a small War Party and a small Peace Party. The majority of Texans felt they had it pretty good so long as they were left to their own means. Some Texans resented how the State government handled the land grants. Indeed, there were corrupt dealings and usury evidenced itself in the granting of land, but the corruption was on both sides - Mexican government officials and Anglo speculators. In the meantime, events had quieted. The Anglos contented themselves with their private businesses. They stayed in touch with one another. Colonies grew, immigration greatly increased. Quiet excitement spread throughout the colonies because things were beginning to prosper. For once there was a general sense of contentment. Then, in the early summer of 1835, the dam broke loose.

      True to his word, Santa Anna had kept his word about suspending the tariff collections for about two years. Not known to most of the colonists was his ultimate design to overthrow the Mexican Constitution and install himself as dictator. Only a handful of Texans correctly guessed Santa Anna's intentions of invading Texas and bringing the colonists to heel.

      Anahuac again became the focal point for hostilities. The tariffs were suddenly reinstituted in January 1835. Santa Anna sent a detachment of soldiers to enforce the collection at Anahuac and Galveston. Local Anglo merchants became angered and declared no tariffs would be paid until all collections were equally enforced throughout Texas. The result-one merchant was wounded, two were imprisoned.

      General Cos, in Matamoros, heard of the increasing hostilities of the Anglo settlers. He would not let Anahuac again experience the disaster of 1832. He dispatched a letter to the Anahuac commander stating reinforcements were on the way, and in the meantime to be strong.

      Cos' letters were intercepted by an excited group of settlers at San Felipe de Austin. That was all the War Party needed. To them it was the last straw of Mexican harrassment.

      Seizing the moment to rally the Texans, the War Party members met and passed a resolution appointing William B. Travis to assemble a fighting force and take the Mexican fort at Anahuac.

      On the morning of June 30, Captain Tenorio, and his forty-four men surrendered peacefully at Anahuac.

      The Peace Party was appalled. Upon learning of Travis' exploits they immediately met at San Felipe and denounced the War Party's actions. By July 21, two colonists were dispatched to General Cos seeking a reconciliation with the Mexican forces and government.

      Cos would have none of it. He immediately ordered the arrest of Lorenzo de Zavala (who would eventually sign the Texas Declaration of Independence) and ordered that the major offenders of the Anahuac incident be arrested and turned over to the Mexican military for a trial. He refused to meet with the Peace Party and sent a letter to the Anglo political chief in Nacogdoches stating there was only one constitution, the Constitution of Mexico and it was imperative the Anglos obey said Constitution.

      This resulted in a series of meetings by the colonists at San Felipe de Austin. Various committees met. They were led by the activist, William H. Wharton, chairman of the committee of safety and correspondence. A call went out to all the colonies to send five delegates each to an October 15 consultation. The call was dispatched August 15, 1835.

      Stephen F. Austin was granted amnesty in Mexico City, and had returned home. By general consent, he became the leader of the Texas Revolution. Even this most peaceful, level-headed man declared: "War is our only resource. There is no other remedy. We must defend our rights ourselves and our country by force of arms." The two political extremes of the colonists, the War Party and Peace Party joined hands.

      In the meantime, the settlers of the Seguin region continued their endeavors in making a new life for themselves. But a series of events would cause the last of them to return to Gonzales.

      As the only colonists between San Antonio and Gonzales they were totally isolated from protection. The handful of Mexican land holders were friendly enough, but there was a cultural difference and the Anglos, while sure of their allegiance, were not too sure of the native Mexicans. Too many events had taken place for a mutual trust to develop - something that, in human nature, usually takes years to evolve under normal conditions. The conditions from 1831 to 1834 were neither normal nor ideal for the Anglos and Mexicans.

      Combined with the feeling of isolation and cultural differences, there was an added dimension that made life even more difficult for other pioneer settlers. The Indian, a third cultural force, was also claiming his rights to his land. He, the Indian, had survived the Spaniard, then the Mexican, and now there was the Anglo. His technique for surviving was a blend of accommodation, warfare, and trying to maintain a sense of identity. His land was disappearing.

      As the European and Anglo settlers took what they believed was rightly theirs, so did the Indian. To the Indian there were, in a sense, two enemies - the settlers and other Indian tribes. Both became apparent to the settlers in the Seguin region.

      According to several written accounts, in 1834 in the Sowell Creek settlement, a small band of Indians appeared. They were accepted by the settlers and invited to camp and hunt if they so wished. This the Indians did for several days. When they left, two horses were missing from the settlement.

      To the Indian the horse was a most treasured possession for it gave him mobility and put him on equal footing with the Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo. Stealing horses for three hundred years was a way of life, and attested to the Indian's courage in front of his peers.

      To the Anglo the horse was also a treasured possession. The horse was his life - it worked for man, it gave him transportation, and amusement. The horse was a basic necessity for survival, especially on the frontier. No man ever stole a horse from another man. The price for doing so was met with frontier justice - usually death to the horse thief.

      Andrew Sowell, Montgomery, and Tumlison, with several others, set out in search for the horse thieves. Where Mill Creek empties into the Guadalupe River in present day Hidden Oaks, two Indians with the horses were found. The Indians meekly surrendered. The five settlers decided that the death penalty was in order.

      Sensing their fate, the Indians attacked the settlers. Montgomery was fatally stabbed. Quickly the other settlers reacted and the Indians did not escape.

      Later, in 1834, the Indians showed who their other enemy was in this region. Cottonwood Creek, just south of present-day Seguin, was the scene of a bloody battle between the Comanches and Lipan Apaches. Both were natural enemies. Usually the Comanches stayed west of present day Interstate Highway 35. Being of a warlike nature, not respecting anyoneÕs territorial claims, and constantly being challenged by the stubborn Apaches as the Comanches moved farther south, warfare between the two nations was inevitable.

      Combining all of these factors - Indians, a boding sense of warfare between Texas and Mexico, being isolated from the security of a large organized settlement, and standing in the way of San Antonio and Gonzales, the settlers decided to leave the Seguin region and return to Gonzales. This they did in 1834.

      The first era of Seguin's recorded history closed with their departure. Yet, in a sense, their departure marked a new beginning for Seguin's development. Umphries Branch sold his land to Thomas R. Miller, and it was out of this land that Seguin would be developed a short four years later. Certainly, upon their return to Gonzales, the settlers reestablished old friendships and made new ones. Indeed, when one reads the list of names of those men who fought in the Texas Revolution and then helped found and settle Seguin, one can be sure new friends were made.



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© 2000 E. John Gesick, Jr. All rights reserved.