The Wild West


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Welcome to Continental Lodge #287's Home Page. We Fraternally invite you to view our Communication and visit us on our regular meeting night.  We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at Grand Lodge, 71 West 23rd Street in the Renaissance Room on the 6th Floor at 7:30PM.  Our Brothers meet for dinner prior to the meetings. Check the Communication for location and feel free to join us..... Dutch of course!!
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Stephen F Austin James Bowie Joseph Brant Christopher "Kit" Carson
William Clark Buffalo Bill Cody Samuel Colt David Crockett
John Fitch Richard Gatling Mirabeau B Lamar Meriwether Lewis
Robert Livingston James W. Marshall David G Burnett Sam Houston
  Anson Jones William B Travis  



William B Travis

Born in South Carolina on 9 August 1809, William Barret Travis will always be remembered as the Texas commandertravis.jpg (12126 bytes) at the Battle of the Alamo. He spent his childhood in Saluda Co., SC, which was also the home of James Butler Bonham, another Alamo defender.
Travis studied law and became a practicing attorney for a brief time before marrying Rosanna Cato at the age of nineteen. Within a year, when Travis was barely twenty years old, they had a son, Charles Edward Travis. Remaining in the area, Travis began publication of a newspaper, became a Mason, and joined the militia. The marriage soon failed, however. Travis abandoned his wife, son, and an unborn daughter, and headed for Texas.
After arriving in Texas in early 1831, Travis obtained land from Stephen F. Austin. He set up to practice law first in the town of Anahuac, and afterwards at San Felipe.
When friction developed between Texas and Mexico, Travis was one of the first to join the Texas forces. When Mexican General Martin Perfecto de Cos demanded the surrender of the Texan's cannon that resulted in the Battle of Gonzales, Travis was one of hundreds to come to the its defense. He arrived too late, however, to take part in the action.
On orders from Provisional Governor Henry Smith in January of 1836, Travis entered the Alamo with about 30 men. Within a few days, he found himself in command, when then commander James C. Neill took leave to care for his family.
Travis commanded the Texas defenders during the Siege and Battle of the Alamo. His Appeal from the Alamo for reinforcements has become an American symbol of unyielding courage and heroism. Although a few reinforcements arrived before the Alamo fell, Travis and over 180 defenders gave their lives for Texas independence on 6 March 1836.
Remarkably, Travis was only twenty-six years of age at the time of his death. Return to Last Page



James W Marshall

Born in Lambertsville, New Jersey, on October 8 of 1810, James Marshall left home for good at the young age of twenty-four. Missouri was his first stop; there he settled down along the banks of the Missouri River and took to farming. Several years later he caught one of the malarial fevers that plagued the residents of the low-lying bottom lands. His recovery was slow but when he felt well enough to travel, he decided it was time to head west to seek a healthier climate.
Joining an emigrant train on its way to the Oregon Territory in 1844, Marshall was not content with his destination and upon arriving decided to set out once again, this time for California. He arrived at Sutter’s Fort in 1845, at the age of thirty-four, and was immediately hired as a handyman by Captain Sutter. Anxious to get back to farming, Marshall bought a ranch on Butte Creek but continued to work for Sutter.
Marshall fought in the Mexican War, serving in Captain John Frémont’s California Volunteers for one year. When he returned to Sutter’s Fort in 1847, he was dismayed to find that all his livestock had either strayed off or been stolen. He had no choice but to go back to work for Sutter.
Sutter’s expanding agricultural empire needed lumber, but there were no stands of timber in the vicinity. As a result, the Captain sent Marshall off on a tree quest, which turned out to be quite successful. Located about forty-five miles away from the fort, the Cullomah Valley was the perfect spot. It was accessible, the South Fork of the American River would provide power for a sawmill, and it was heavily forested with good stands of a variety of trees. John Bidwell, one of Sutter’s clerks, drew up a contract for the two men on or about August 27 of 1847. Marshall would build and supervise the operation of the mill, while Sutter would find provisions, teams, tools, and pay for the workmen’s wages.
Marshall and his men set out for the millsite that September. Their first task was to build a double cabin to house the millworkers and the Wimmers; Peter, Jennie (the camp’s cook), and their children. Another cabin was then built for Marshall. Some forty local Indians were hired to excavate the millrace and to build the diversion dam. The more skilled men set to felling trees and whipsawing them into timbers for the mill.
When the day finally arrived to test the mill, Marshall and his men held their breath as the wooden headgate opened and the “clear mountain torrent leaped gurgling and foaming along its new cut channel.” A heavy, collective sigh escaped from the men. The wheel turned, but it moved too slowly. It would never power the saw. Marshall quickly determined the problem: the lower end of the tailrace needed deepening to prevent the water from backing up. Additional boring and blasting solved the problem; the water flowed through quickly and the wheel turned with speed.
Meanwhile, Marshall Discovered The Gold. But what most would consider a fortuitous event proved to be the beginning of bad fortunes for Marshall. The once serene Coloma Valley changed forever as miners overran the millsite, staking, claiming, and taking every piece of land in sight. Marshall tried for a short time to hold onto his land, but was soon pushed off by the ever increasing hordes. Many of the miners believed he possessed some kind of supernatural powers and virtually forced him to find gold for them, threatening him with hanging if he didn’t deliver. He finally left the area in disgust, to wander and prospect about the state, but was never able to locate another rich strike. In order to pay off old debts, Marshall was forced to sell his ranch on Butte Creek.
Marshall eventually returned to Coloma in 1857 with intentions of settling down. After purchasing some land, he started a vineyard and went on to produce prize-winning wines and brandies in the early 1860’s. Towards the end of the decade; however, a lessening demand for fruit, high taxes, and increased competition, combined to end his career as a vintner. Once again, Marshall turned to prospecting. He later became a partner in a mine near Kelsey, and as its development proved expensive, he hit the lecture tour to raise funds. The mine turned out to be a humbug and left Marshall virtually impoverished.
In 1872 the State Legislature passed a bill which awarded Marshall a pension, good for two years, in honor of his important role in California history. The pension was renewed twice but was allowed to lapse in 1878, to which Marshall himself may be partly to blame. Legend has it that when he visited the 1878 assembly in person, a brandy bottle dropped out of his pocket and rolled along the floor, causing a somewhat bad impression.
James Wilson Marshall died in Kelsey in 1885, penniless. Taken back to Coloma, he was buried on an acre of his vineyard land, on a hill overlooking the town and the South Fork of the American River. In 1890 the state erected a monument over his grave, atop of which stands a bronze statue of Marshall, pointing to the spot where he made the discovery that electrified the world. Return to Last Page



Robert R Livingston

Robert Livingston, the first lord of the manor, was born at Ancrum, Roxburghshire, Scotland, Dec. 13, 1654; son of Dr. John Livingston (1608-1672), a Presbyterian minister, who was banished from Scotland in 1663, on account of his nonconformist views, and went to Holland soon after the restoration of Charles II. Robert accompanied his father in his flight to Rotterdam, and immigrated to America in 1673, and after spending part of a year in Charlestown, Massachusetts Bay colony, removed to Albany, N.Y.

In Albany, Robert was secretary of the commissaries who superintended the affairs of Albany, Schenectady, and the parts adjacent, 1675-86. He was married in 1683 to Alida, daughter of Philip Pietersen Schuyler, and widow of Nicholas Van Rensselaer. In 1686 he received from Governor Thomas Dougan a grant of land comprising large parts of what was subsequently set off as Dutchess county, and the grant was confirmed by royal charter from George I., who erected the manor and lordship of Livingston. Robert Livingston was appointed to proceed to New York with his brother-in-law, Peter Schuyler, to obtain a charter for the manor from Governor Dougan, under which charter he was town clerk, 1686-1721. In 1689 he attached himself to the anti-Leisler faction. He was secretary of the convention held at Albany, Oct. 25, 1689, which, while it acknowledged the sovereignty of William and Mary, opposed Leisler's proceedings. When Richard Petty, sheriff of Albany, reported to Leisler that Livingston favored the Prince of Orange, Leisler ordered Livingston's arrest, and the latter retired to one of the neighboring provinces until the arrival of Sloughter, in March, 1691.

In 1694 Robert made a voyage to England, was shipwrecked on the coast of Portugal, and obliged to travel through Spain and France by land. He returned to New York in 1696, accompanied by his nephew, Robert Livingston. While in England he was appointed by royal commission, dated Jan. 27, 1695-96, commissioner of excise, receiver of quit rents, town clerk, clerk of the peace, clerk of the common pleas for the city and county of Albany, and secretary for the government of the Indians in New York.

He obtained for Robert Kidd a commission to rid the American seas of buccaneers; but Kidd himself turned pirate and the expedition failed.

In September, 1696, the charge of alienation was preferred against him by the council, but through the influence of Lord Bellomont, who arrived in April, 1698, to take charge of the government, he was appointed one of the council, September, 1698, and in the autumn of 1700, was reinstated in all his offices. He was accused by the Leislerian commission of appropriating the public money for his own use, and of employing improper influences to induce the Indians to favor his going to England on behalf of their interests at the court. He refused to exonerate himself of the charge by oath and on April 27, 1701, his estates were confiscated and he was suspended from the council board. Through the intercession of Lord Cornbury he was vindicated.

On Feb. 2, 1703, he regained his estates, and in September, 1705, he was reinstated in his former offices. He was elected a member of the assembly from Albany in 1711, and from his manor, 1716-25, serving as speaker 1718-25, when he retired on account of ill-health. He died in Albany, N.Y., April 20, 1725.

Robert's oldest sons, Philip and Robert, became famous in their own right and produced a tree of famous descendants.
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Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis was born in Albemarle County Virginia on August 18, 1774. He was the second of three children of Lucy and John Lewis. His father died when we he was five. Lewis's mother, left to raise her children and run a plantation, soon remarried. From age thirteen to eighteen Lewis attended local schools taught by ministers. When he was eighteen, his stepfather died and Lewis returned home to take over the job of running the plantation.

Lewis joined the US Army in 1794 and rose to the rank of Captain in 1800. In 1801 Captain Lewis became private secretary to US President Thomas Jefferson. Under Jefferson's direction, Lewis planned an exploration of a route west to the Pacific coast of North America. Lewis invited William Clark to join the expedition, and the two men privately agreed to lead it jointly. In addition to command, Lewis served as the party's naturalist. On the expedition he collected plant, animal, and mineral specimens.

In May of 1804 the expedition sponsored by the US Government, and lead by Lewis and Clark started up the Missouri River from a camp near St. Louis. By late fall, the explorers reached what is now North Dakota and spent the winter there. The following spring they continued along the Missouri and in late summer crossed the Rocky Mountains. They obtained horses, supplies, and valuable information from the Indians they met on their journey. Following the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia Rivers they made their way to the Pacific coast, which they reached in November of 1805. The party spent the winter on the coast of what is now Oregon and began the trip home in March of 1806. The explorers returned along nearly the same route by which they had come, reaching St. Louis in September of 1806 after traveling a total of 8,000 miles (12,800 kilometers).

As a reward for his service, Jefferson named Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1807. In 1809 Lewis died under ambiguous circumstances. It is speculated that personal and professional problems may have driven him to suicide, but some people believe he was murdered. (Murder or Suicide)

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Meriwether Lewis or related subjects, or if you would like to submit comments please send us email. With your help we are creating a world class information resource. Return to Last Page



Mirabeau B Lamar


Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was born in Georgia, lived in Alabama and migrated to Texas in 1835 with James Mirabeau LamarFannin. Lamar enlisted in the Texas Army as a private after the fall of the Alamo in March, 1836. He was promoted to Colonel in April for his bravery and quick thinking in the rescue of Secretary of War Thomas Rusk from the advancing Mexican Army. He was placed in command of the cavalry at the crucial Battle of San Jacinto on April 21st. Ten days after this victory over General Santa Anna, Lamar was appointed Secretary of War in the Cabinet of David Burnet. By June of 1836 Lamar was a Major General and the Commander in Chief of the Texas Army. In less than one hundred days, the 38 year old Lamar had risen from private to C-in-C. 

The first national election of the Republic of Texas was held in September 1836. General Sam Houston was elected President and Lamar was elected Vice President. Two years later Lamar was elected as the Republic's second President.

As President, Lamar was largely responsible for the selection of Austin, then named Waterloo, as the permanent site for the capital of Texas. He was also responsible for the establishment of a educational system endowed by public lands. His far-sighted educational endowment system eventually resulted in the creation of The University of Texas and Texas A&M University. The official motto of The University of Texas, "A Cultivated Mind is the Guardian Genius of Democracy," is taken from one of Lamar's speeches to the Texas Congress.

Lamar University in Beaumont, Lamar County in northeast Texas, the town of Lamar in Aransas County, and Lamar Boulevard in Austin are named for Mirabeau B. Lamar. He is buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Richmond.
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Anson Jones

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Anson Jones, doctor, congressman, and the last president of the Republic of Texas, son of Solomon and Sarah (Strong) Jones, was born at Seekonkville, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on January 20, 1798. He hoped to become a printer but was persuaded to study medicine, and in 1820 he was licensed by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society and began practice at Bainbridge. He met with meager success and soon moved to Norwich, where he opened a drugstore that failed. He subsequently started for Harpers Ferry, to begin business again in "the West," but at Philadelphia he was arrested by a creditor and remained to open a medical office and teach school until 1824, when he went to Venezuela for two years. Jones returned to Philadelphia, opened a medical office, qualified for an M.D. degree at Jefferson Medical College in 1827, and became a Mason and an Odd Fellow. He became master of his Masonic lodge and grand master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Pennsylvania, but his medical practice did not prosper. In October 1832 he renounced medicine and became a commission merchant in New Orleans, where he lived through cholera and yellow fever epidemics and a series of failures that left him despondent and broke.

In October 1833, at the suggestion of Jeremiah Brown, Jones drifted to Texas. He had engaged passage back to New Orleans when John A. Wharton and other citizens of Brazoria urged him to "give Texas a fair trial." Jones soon had a practice at Brazoria worth $5,000 a year. As tension between Texas and Mexico mounted, he counseled forbearance and peace until the summer of 1835, when he joined in signing a petition for the calling of the Consultation, which he visited. At a mass meeting at Columbia in December 1835 he presented resolutions for calling a convention to declare independence but declined to be nominated as a delegate. When war came he enlisted in Robert J. Calder's company and during the San Jacinto campaign was judge advocate and surgeon of the Second Regiment. Nevertheless, he insisted upon remaining a private in the infantry. On the field of San Jacinto he found Juan N. Almonte's Journal and Order Book, which he sent to the New York Herald for publication in June 1836. After brief service as apothecary general of the Texas army, Jones returned to Brazoria, evicted James Collinsworth from his office with a challenge to a duel, and resumed practice.

During the First Congress of the republic, Jones became increasingly interested in public questions and critical of congressional policies. He was elected a representative to the Second Congress as an opponent of the Texas Railroad, Navigation, and Banking Company. As chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, he advocated a withdrawal of the Texas proposal for annexation to the United States. He was also chairman of the committee on privileges and elections and the committee on ways and means. He helped formulate legislation to regulate medical practice and advocated a uniform system of education and an endowment for a university. At the end of his congressional term, Jones planned to marry Mrs. Mary (Smith) McCrory and return to his practice at Brazoria. President Sam Houston, however, appointed him minister to the United States in June 1838 and authorized him to withdraw the annexation proposal. Jones's purpose as minister was to stimulate recognition from and trade relations with Europe in order to make the United States desire annexation or to make Texas strong enough to remain independent. Thus early he hit upon the policy of alternatives that characterized his management of foreign relations until Texas joined the Union and that gave him the title of "Architect of Annexation."

He was recalled by President Mirabeau B. Lamar in May 1839 and resolved to retire from politics, but when he arrived in Texas he found that he had been elected to finish William H. Wharton's term in the Senate. As senator he criticized the fiscal policies of the Lamar administration and the Texan Santa Fe expedition. Jones was chairman of the committees on foreign relations and the judiciary and was president pro tem of the Senate during the Fifth Congress. On May 17, 1840, Jones married Mrs. McCrory at Austin and in the spring of 1841 returned to practice in Brazoria. He declined candidacy for the vice presidency in the election of 1841, in which Houston again became president. Houston appointed Jones his secretary of state, and from December 13, 1841, until February 19, 1846, Jones managed the foreign relations of Texas through a series of crises. Both Houston and Jones later claimed to have devised the foreign policy followed by Texas after 1841, and it is impossible to determine which man originated its leading features. In the main they agreed on the purpose of getting an offer of annexation from the United States or getting an acknowledgment of Texas independence from Mexico. They preferred getting both proposals simultaneously, so that an irrevocable choice might be made between them.

Jones was elected president of Texas in September 1844 and took office on December 9. He had made no campaign speeches, had not committed himself on the subject of annexation, and did not mention the subject in his inaugural address. After James K. Polk's election as president of the United States on a platform of "reannexation of Texas" and President John Tyler's proposal of annexation by joint resolution, Jones continued his silence. But the Texas Congress declared for joining the Union. Before Jones received official notice of the joint resolution, the charges of England and France induced him to delay action for ninety days. He promised to obtain from Mexico recognition of Texas independence and delayed calling the Texas Congress or a convention. Meanwhile, public sentiment for annexation and resentment against Jones mounted. He was burned in effigy, and threats were made to overthrow his government, but he remained silent until Charles Elliot returned from Mexico with the treaty of recognition. On June 4, 1845, Jones presented to the people of Texas the alternative of peace and independence or annexation. The Texas Congress rejected the treaty with Mexico, approved the joint resolution of annexation, and adopted resolutions censuring Jones. The Convention of 1845 considered removing Jones from office. He subsequently retained his title, though his duties were merely ministerial. On February 19, 1846, at the ceremony setting up the government of Texas as a state in the Union, Jones declared, "The Republic of Texas is no more." Then he retired to Barrington, his plantation near Washington-on-the-Brazos.

Jones hoped to be elected to the United States Senate, but Houston and Thomas Jefferson Rusk were chosen. For twelve years Jones brooded over his neglect while he became a prosperous planter and accumulated a vast estate. After an injury that disabled his left arm in 1849, he became increasingly moody and introspective, and his dislike for Houston turned into hatred. While in this frame of mind, he edited his Republic of Texas, which contained a brief autobiography, portions of his diaries, and annotated selections from his letters. The book was published in New York in 1859, after his death.

On March 1, 1835, with four other persons, Jones had established the first Masonic lodge in Texas, originally Holland Lodge No. 36 at Brazoria. He was its first head. He called the convention that organized the Grand Lodge of Texas on December 20, 1837, and was elected first grand master. He was a charter member and vice president of the Philosophical Society of Texas in 1837 and in 1853 helped found the Medical Association of Texas. In 1857 Jones believed that the legislature would send him to Washington as senator, but he received no votes. He committed suicide at Houston on January 9, 1858, and was buried in Glenwood Cemetery at Houston. The Texas Centennial Commission erected a statue of him in Anson, Jones County, both of which were named after him. Barrington, his plantation home, is preserved in Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park.  Return to Last Page



Sam Houston

At the age of 35 Sam Houston, whose 200th birthday was celebrated in Texas and at Sam Houston State University March 2, 1993, was already being mentioned as a possible candidate for the presidency of the United States.
He was governor of Tennessee, had a friend in the White House in Andy Jackson, and had only one political liability. He was not married, and as Marquis James describes his reputation in "The Raven," "there had been too much toasting the ladies."
Houston's failed marriage to Eliza Allen took him out of the presidential picture during the early part of his career. But after years of achievement in Texas it was his independent spirit--call it stubbornness or statesmanship--that doomed subsequent chances when the nation needed him most.
By the early 1850s Sam Houston was a U. S. Senator from Texas. His leadership at San Jacinto had opened the west to expansion. He had served as president of the Republic of Texas twice, was happily married, and was proclaiming himself a "teetoteller."
In the spring of 1850 Ashbel Smith wrote to Sam Houston, calling him "decidedly the strongest candidate of the Democratic party," saying even the rival Whigs believed he could be elected.
Houston supported the Compromise of 1850 with the words "a nation divided against itself cannot stand." Eight years later Abraham Lincoln used a similar phrase. "The New York Sun" proposed Houston for president, calling him "a man not influenced by sectional prejudices."
When it came to public relations skills, Houston was a chip off the Old (Hickory) block. Jackson had appointed the first presidential press secretary. Houston gave advance copies of his speeches to the press.
Andrew Johnson, the future Lincoln vice president and successor, said that "all agree that if he could receive the nomination that he could be elected by a greater majority than any other person now spoken of."
The political powers, however, did not select Houston.
In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act was proposed to repeal the Missouri Compromise and allow citizens of the two new territories, Kansas and Nebraska, to decide if slavery was to be allowed. The South favored the bill, which passed.
Houston opposed it, arguing that "Upon the decision which we make..must depend union or disunion." He came back to Texas and said that while his vote was "the most unpopular...I ever gave, it was the wisest and most patriotic." Southern Democrats never forgave him.
Houston turned to the nativist American, or Know-Nothing, party. At first using the memorable line, "Of the Know-Nothings I know nothing," he later supported them openly.
Gregg Cantrell, professor of history at Sam Houston State University, said that the party dogma fit Houston's republican belief on the threat of corrupting power and his ideas on race--"in the primacy of environment in determining human intelligence and character."
In 1856 the Know-Nothing platform accepted the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Houston was passed over again.
In 1860 his name was placed in nomination by the National Union party by an enthusiastic delegate from New York who said:
"Give us this man, whose blood once ran like water in defense of the union now imperilled; who fought the Indians when they were enemies and lived with them when they were friends; who has been governor of two states; who has drawn his sword in defense of two republics; who has been president of one and is now on his way to that high office in another."
Although Houston did well on the first ballot, he was eventually rejected.
Had Houston become president, the force of his leadership may have somehow spared the United States its bloody civil war, and the United States today might include Mexico. Historian Walter P. Webb wrote in his book on the Texas Rangers that Houston's "grand plan" was to be president and savior of the union and to establish a protectorate over Mexico.
By those measures he was a failure. By almost any other he was not.
Andrew Jackson predicted, and it is written on the monument at Houston's grave in Huntsville: "The World Will Take Care of Houston's Fame."    Back to Last Page



John Fitch

1743-98, American inventor, b. Windsor, Conn. Fitch began(1785) work on the invention of the steam engine andsteamboat and secured soon afterward the exclusive right tobuild and operate steamboats on the waters of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Virginia. A trial run ofhis first steamer (1786) was only a partial success. His nextvessel, launched and operated on the Delaware River in 1787,was followed by two others. Although Fitch was not alone indeveloping the steam engine and steamboat, there is goodevidence that he invented the first American steamboat.Nevertheless, he failed to receive either the opportunity tocommercialize his invention or the recognition he justly deserved. Frustrated by endless disappointments, Fitchcommitted suicide in Bardstown, Ky. Return to Last Page



Richard J. Gatling

By the time the Civil War broke-out in April 1861, Richard J. Gatling had already applied for at least 10 patents. In 1835, Richard Gatling invented, but missed a previously patented ship's screw propeller by only a few months. In 1839 he invented a seed-sowing rice planter, later adapted as a very successful wheat drill, which used less seed and increased yield from the hand sowing method in use at the time.

Born September 12, 1818 in Hertford Count, North Carolina, Richard Gatling was the son of a well-to-do planter, Jordan Gatling, who himself had two patents to his credit. At the start of the war, Gatling thought the invention of a high rate of fire automatic gun would reduce the number of soldiers required to man the battlefield, reducing their exposure to disease and other hazards of war.

In 1870, Richard Gatling moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut where the Gatling gun was manufactured at the Colt Armory. The Gatling's lived in Hartford until 1897 when the family moved to New York City to be near their daughter and her husband.

Richard Gatling pursued and promoted many new inventions until he died in February 1903, at the age of 84. His most successful inventions, the Gatling gun and his wheat drill, made him a fortune which he largely lost in unwise investments in railroads, real estate, and in promotion of his other inventions, but when he died he was still a wealthy man. In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. Government named a new destroyer the USS Gatling, in honor of the service he performed to his country.

The Gatling Gun Company remained in Indianapolis, Indiana until 1874, when it was incorporated at Hartford, Connecticut, where the gun was manufactured by Colt. The partnership between Colt and the Gatling Gun Company grew closer and by 1897 the two companies essentially merged. Within a few years Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company completely absorbed the Gatling Gun Company. Gatling's European subsidiary had previously been sold to Frederick C. Penfield, of London, England, in 1888.  Return to Last Page



David Crocket


Davy Crockett, the celebrated hero, warrior and backwoods statesman, was born August 17, 1786 in a small cabin on the banks of the romantic Nolichucky River, near the mouth of Limestone Creek, which today lies about three and a half miles off 11-E Highway near Limestone, Tennessee.

David "Davy" Crockett was the fifth of nine children and the fifth son born to John and Rebecca Hawkins Crockett. The Crocketts were a self-sufficient, independent family.

Davy Crockett stands for the Spirit of the American Frontier. As a young man he was a crafty Indian fighter and hunter. When he was forty-nine years old, he died a hero's death at the Alamo, helping Texas win independence from Mexico. For many years he was nationally known as a political representative of the frontier.

The elder Davy Crockett, Davy's grandfather, left the settled lands of North Carolina and crossed the mountains into present-day East Tennessee, in search of fresh territory to settle. While his older sons were away with the Revolutionary army at King's Mountain in 1777, the grandfather and his wife, were two of a dozen or so settlers living near present-day Rogersville who were massacred by Creek and Cherokee Indians.

John, Davy's father, soon moved to Greene County where Davy was born. While Davy was still in dresses, his father moved the family to Cove Creek in Greene County, Tennessee, where he built a mill in partnership with Thomas Galbreath. When Davy was eight years old, the mill was washed away with his home. After this disaster John Crockett removed his family to Jefferson County where he built and operated a log-cabin tavern on the Knoxville-Abingdon Road. (This cabin has been restored and is now located at Morristown, 30 miles Southwest of Greeneville.) The young Davy no doubt heard tales told by many a westbound traveler - tales which must have sparked his own desire for adventure in the great western territories. In his dealings with his father's customers, Davy must also have learned much about human nature and so refined his natural skills as a leader. While Davy lived there he spent four days at the school of Benjamin Kitchen. He had a fight with a boy at school and left home to escape a "licking" from his dad.

He got a job helping to drive cattle to Virginia. In Virginia, he worked for farmers, wagoners and a hatmaker. After two and a half years, he returned home. Davy was now fifteen years old and approaching six feet in height. In those days a boy either worked for his father or turned over his pay if he worked for others. Upon promise of his freedom from this obligation, Davy worked a year for men to whom his father owed money. After working off these debts of his father's he continued with his last employer. He often borrowed his employer's rifle and soon became en expert marksman. From his wages he bought new clothes, a horse and a rifle of his own. He began to take part in the local shooting contests. At these contests the prices often were quarters of beef. A contestant would pay twenty-five cents for a single shot at the target and the best shot won the quarter of beef. Davy's aim became so good that more than once, he won all four quarters of beef.

The son of Davy's employer conducted a school near-by, to which, for six months, Davy went four days a week and worked two. Except for the four days he had attended school when he was twelve, this was all the schooling Davy ever had.

Davy Crockett was licensed to marry Margaret Elder in 1805, but this license was never used. However, he was married to Polly Finlay in 1806, just after his twentieth birthday. They lived for the next few years in a small cabin near the Crockett family, where their two sons, John Wesley and William, were born. After Polly Finlay's death in 1815 he married Elizabeth Patton, a widow.

He was commander of a battalion in the Creek Indian War in 1813-1814. He was a member of the Tennessee legislature in 1821-1822 and again in 1823-1824, and of the twentieth Congress of the United States in the years 1827-1829, in the twenty-first Congress, 1829-1831 and again, in the twenty-third Congress, 1833-1835. To be a representative in the Tennessee legislature and then serve honorably as a member of Congress of the United States, was quite a feat for one with less than six months schooling. His motto was, "Be always sure you are right, then go ahead."

While he was a member of the legislature in 1821, the Governor had invited the entire legislature to dinner. A death had occurred and to receive the guests became the duty of the Governor and his twelve year old daughter. The members of the legislature had arranged to arrive as early as possible at the Governor's mansion to witness the arrival of Col. Davy Crockett. The eccentric backwoodsman, or bear hunter, as they called him, came promptly. Having arrived, the Governor presented his daughter to Col. Crockett. He took her by the hand and remarked to the Governor, "When I like a man, I always love his children," and kneeling down , he kissed her, saying, "God bless you my child". He arose no more the backwoodsman or bear hunter, but the most amiable, independent and courageous man in the Tennessee legislature, and such he proved himself to be.

His first, or original, gun is in Jefferson County and has been since 1806. His rifle "Betsy", presented by the Whigs of Philadelphia in 1834, is at Nashville, Tennessee. The tomahawk, or hatchet, presented in 1834 with a rifle, is in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

In March, 1836, Davy Crockett, with 139 others, was massacred at the Alamo. Usually, in battles, someone is left to tell the story, but the Alamo had no one. One hundred and eighty-seven men for eleven days withstood the Mexican army of the despot, Santa Anna. When the battle was done, all of the one hundred eighty-seven brave Americans, including Davy Crockett, lay dead on the ground; but with them also lay over two thousand Mexicans, who had died at their hands.

Yes, Davy Crockett of Tennessee, went far in his day by his own effort and achievement, and rose high in the esteem of his fellow men - from the humblest of beginnings, as is attested by the rough-hewn native limestone slab, still to be seen at the site of his birth in upper Greene County, near Limestone, in East Tennessee. His tombstone reads: "Davy Crockett, Pioneer, Patriot, Soldier, Trapper, Explorer, State Legislator, Congressman, Martyred at The Alamo. 1786 - 1836"
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Samuel Colt

Sam Colt Image"Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal." This post-Civil War slogan would have been music to Sam Colt's ears had he lived long enough to hear it.

Yet, even before his death at the age of 47, he knew that his invention of a weapon capable of firing without reloading was a tremendous success throughout the world. Some 19th-century historians have gone so far as to say that Sam Colt's invention altered the course of history. But when all was said and done, no man could deny that Sam Colt had achieved a level of both fame and fortune known to few other inventors.

As a direct result of his invention and the marketing and sales success that followed, Sam Colt and his firearms played a prominent role in the history of a developing America. So popular was the Colt revolver during the latter half of the 1800s that it was perhaps the best-known firearm not only in this country but also in Canada, Mexico, and many European countries. To this day, the name Colt suggests firearms to most Americans.

Sam Colt's success story began with the issuance of a U.S. patent in 1836 for the Colt firearm equipped with a revolving cylinder containing five or six bullets. Colt's revolver provided its user with greatly increased firepower. Prior to his invention, only one- and two-barrel flintlock pistols were available. In the 163 years that have followed, more than 30 million revolvers, pistols, and rifles bearing the Colt name have been produced, almost all of them in plants located in the Hartford, Connecticut, area.

The Colt revolving-cylinder concept is said to have occurred to Sam Colt while serving as a seaman aboard the sailing ship Corvo;. There he observed a similar principle in the workings of the ship's capstan. During his leisure hours, Sam carved a wooden representation of his idea. The principle was remarkable in its simplicity and its applicability to both longarms and sidearms. Nevertheless, Colt's idea was not an instant success. At the outset, many people preferred the traditional flintlock musket or pistol to such a novel weapon.

In 1836, Colt built his first plant in Paterson, N.J., then one of this country's fastest-growing manufacturing centers. Sam Colt's uncle, a successful local businessman, was willing to help young Sam form the company. At age 22, Sam Colt was the firm's chief salesman and new-business promoter.

He soon developed and produced three different revolver models: the pocket, belt, and holster; and two types of long armor rifle: one cocked by a hammer, the other by a finger lever. In all cases, gunpowder and bullets were loaded into a revolving cylinder while the primer was placed into a nipple located on the outside of the cylinder, where it would be struck by the hammer when the trigger was pulled.

Despite the generally favorable performance of the product in the hands of early buyers, sales were sluggish. Even though the U.S. government purchased small quantities of the Colt ring-lever rifle and the Colt 1839 carbine, quantities ordered appear never to have exceeded 100.

In 1842, the Paterson company, known as the Patent Arms Manufacturing Co., closed; auctioned much of its equipment; and began bankruptcy proceedings. Sam Colt then turned his attention to selling the U.S. government on his ideas for waterproof ammunition; underwater mines for harbor defense; and, in association with the inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, the telegraph.

During 1845, certain units of the U.S. Dragoon forces and Texas Rangers engaged in fighting the Indians in Texas credited their use of Colt firearms for their great success in defeating Indian forces. U.S. War Department officials reportedly were favorably impressed. When the Mexican War began in 1846, Capt. Samuel H. Walker, U.S. Army, traveled East, looked up Sam Colt, and collaborated on the design of a new, more powerful revolver.

Within a week, the U.S. Ordnance Dept. ordered a thousand of the newly designed revolvers, which Sam Colt called the "Walker." Suddenly, Colt was back in the firearms business but without a factory. He turned to Eli Whitney, Jr., son of the famous inventor of the cotton gin, who had a factory in Connecticut where the order was completed and shipped by mid-1847.

In 1851, two significant developments had a major effect on the future of the business. Sam Colt became the first American manufacturer to open a plant in England, thereby solidifying his reputation in international markets. And he began purchasing parcels of property in what was then called the South Meadows, an area of Hartford that fronted on the banks of the Connecticut River. The parcels, because they were often flooded, sold at remarkably low prices. A two-mile-long dike actually cost twice as much as the 250 acres; but the new plant, operational in 1855, was protected from the river's uncontrolled flow.

The factory was equipped with the most up-to-date metalworking machinery available and was capable of turning out 5,000 finished handguns during its first year of operation. Knowledgeable of the latest achievements of New England's world-famous machine-tool industry, Colt lost no time in specifying interchangeable parts, some 80% of which were turned out on precision machinery. Sam Colt is reported to have said, "there is nothing that can't be produced by machine," and his factory's production machinery achieved a remarkably high degree of uniformity for the mid-19th century. Typically, the metal parts of a Colt revolver were designed, molded, machined, fitted, stamped with a serial number, hardened, and assembled.

At about this time, Mr. Colt, Hartford's unabashed sales promoter, raised the distinctive onion-shaped dome, topped with a cast-bronze rampant colt, over his factory, thereby assuring that every Hartford resident and visitor who saw the dome would ask about it and hear the Colt success story.

The firm was incorporated in 1855 in Connecticut as the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co., with an initial issuance of 10,000 shares of stock. Sam Colt retained ownership of 9,996 shares and gave one share to each of our business associates, including E.K. Root, his trusted factory superintendent and an inventor in his own right. By 1856, the company was producing 150 weapons a day; and the product's reputation for exceptional quality, workmanship, and design had spread around the world, making Colonel Colt one of the ten wealthiest businessmen in the U.S. The honorary title was awarded by the Governor of the State of Connecticut for political support.

As demand for his firearms grew, Sam Colt, who had long favored the use of engraving and gold inlay on his firearms, expanded his engraving department. Colt's show guns and presentation pieces, exquisitely engraved and generously inlaid with gold, consistently won prizes at international trade fairs. Many were presented publicly to heads of state, including Czars Nicholas I and Alexander II of Russia, King Frederick VII of Denmark, and King Charles XV of Sweden.
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William Clark

William Clark, brother of Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark, was born in Caroline County Virginia on August 1, 1770. Along with Meriwether Lewis, Clark lead the Lewis & Clark expedition to explore the route across America's new territories of the Louisiana purchase. In addition to sharing command, Clark also had record keeping duties. Especially important were the maps he created of the party's route.

In May of 1804 the expedition sponsored by the US Government, and lead by Lewis and Clark started up the Missouri River from a camp near St. Louis. By late fall, the explorers reached what is now North Dakota and spent the winter there. The following spring they continued along the Missouri and in late summer crossed the Rocky Mountains. They obtained horses, supplies, and valuable information from the Indians they met on their journey. Following the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia Rivers they made their way to the Pacific coast, which they reached in November of 1805. The party spent the winter on the coast of what is now Oregon and began the trip home in March of 1806. The explorers returned along nearly the same route by which they had come, reaching St. Louis in September of 1806 after traveling a total of 8,000 miles (12,800 kilometers).

After Lewis's death in 1809, Clark became responsible for the publication of the expedition's journals. After the expedition Clark held several public offices in St. Louis, including superintendent of Indian Affairs. Return to Last Page



David G. Burnett

David G. Burnett was the youngest of 8 children of William and Gertrude Gouveneur Burnett and reared by an older David G. Burnetbrother. At age 17 he worked for the accounting firm of Robinson and Hartshorne in New York. An example of Brunett's lifelong generosity, he lost his only assets, an inheritance of $1400 to help try to save the firm. After a failed venture in Louisiana in his first move west and tuberculosis, he rode off west into the wilderness and was rescued by Comanches who nursed him back to health. He returned to Cincinnati, OH and studied law. In 1826 he returned to Texas and obtained an impresario contract, but sold his contract to the New York land company and returned to New York where he married in 1831. He and his wife purchased machinery for a sawmill and sailed for Texas on the schooner "Call" which went aground at Bolivar Point. They waded ashore and most of their possessions were lost, except the sawmill boiler which floated and was recovered in Galveston Bay. Burnett was involved for a short time with land ventures in Texas as an impresario with Zavala and Vehlein which became part of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company. The venture was criticized as early as 1834 by Col. Juan Almonte in his Statistical Observations on Texas and later Burnett was severely criticized for his participation by President Houston in 1841 as a land speculator with "a company who have swindled by the millions." After independence and in his public positions, Burnett openly expressed his opposition to land speculation in the Republic declaring "an excessive accumulation of lands in the hands of one or a few individuals, is eminently injurious to the public weal."

Burnett was author of the Memorial from the Texas Consultation of 1833 arguing the reasons for Texas becoming an independent state in the Republic of Mexico and authored resolutions denouncing the African slave trade in Texas. The latter met violent opposition led by Monroe Edwards and others already involved in the trade, but passed. Like many Texans, Burnett evolved from opposition to declaring independence of Texas from Mexico to an avid supporter of the revolution as Santa Anna consolidated dictatorial power. First President of the Republic Burnett faced horrific challenges and duties as the Independence Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos adjourned, the Alamo and Goliad garrisons fell and Houston began assembly and retreat of the Texan forces to San Jacinto. He frantically rallied Texans and appealed for aid to the United States while aiding refugees and moving the government to Harrisburg. He adamantly criticized Houston as he retreated toward San Jacinto for not engaging the enemy at points along the Colorado and Brazos Rivers. He and his family barely escaped forces under Gen. Almonte as they fled across the bay to Galveston where he supervised preparation of defense of the island as well as provisions of support for Houston's army at Buffalo Bayou. The problems of setting up a civilian authority and government after the military action subsided continued and were equally intense, especially since the new Republican government had no treasury. At the same time that the fighting subsided, the victorious military spirit ran high and volunteers were continuing to flow into Texas to join even though they, at least temporarily, were no longer needed. In addition, the new government had a large number of Mexican prisoners on its hands including the President of Mexico that must be accommodated. Like all post-war governments, differences of opinion ran rampant both in the civilian and military elements. President Burnett, as well as Houston and even Stephen F. Austin were accused of wrongdoing and even taking and dispensing bribes. Militarism and subversion of civilian authority was a real danger. Rumors abounded that President Burnett would be assassinated and the story goes that on one particular night when an attack was suspected, Mrs. Burnett kept a light burning all night and sat at an open window all night with a loaded pistol. Because of his resistance to militants who at times threatened and even attempted to arrest him and his cabinet, Burnett is credited by some with preventing the rise of militarism and military rule in the new Republic, although it is believed a majority of Texas leaders and the public also opposed such moves.  Return to Last Page



Joseph Brant

Joseph Brant has been mistreated by many historians. Their treatment usually depended upon personal bias, the period in history when accounts were documented, and how they chose to interpret historical documents and accounts. For example, reports by religious figures in those times were usually accepted as true. However, many of them have been found to be in error. ( e. g. Bishop Strachan told his brother, James Strachan, in "Visit to Upper Canada in 1819" that Joseph died in 1810. He died in 1807.)

Most American historians approach Joseph's role in history from his position as an Iroquois and a Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) Indian, unquestionably loyal to England. His loyalty generated prejudice, especially in accounts favoring the Colonists. Joseph tried desperately to keep the Six Nations confederacy in support of the British, and was against those who worked for independence. He considered "Bostonians", as he referred to the rebels for independence, as traitors to England. As his life bore on, we find many incidents that severely strained his loyalty to Britain but never broke it.

His close relationship to Sir William Johnson, his sister Molly's relationship with Sir William Johnson, his early training and mentoring by Tiyanoga, chief sachem of the Mohawk nation were factors in his allegiance. Other factors, such as the 200 year-old peace with Britain, and fear of further usurpation of their tribal lands were pressures brought to bear on Joseph that tried his faithfulness. In this work, we will look at the reactions and attitudes of Joseph Brant as he was buffeted about by the constant and inexorable winds that blew bigotry, controversy and betrayal his way throughout his life. 
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Christopher "Kit" Carson

Enshrined in popular mythology even in his own lifetime, Kit Carson was a trapper, scout, Indian agent, soldier and authenticKit Carson legend of the West.

Born on Christmas eve in 1809, Carson spent most of his early childhood in Boone's Lick, Missouri. His father died when he was only nine years old, and the need to work prevented Kit from ever receiving an education. He was apprenticed to a saddle-maker when he turned fourteen, but left home for the Santa Fe, New Mexico area in 1826.

From about 1828 to 1831, Carson used Taos, New Mexico, as a base camp for repeated fur-trapping expeditions that often took him as far West as California. Later in the 1830's his trapping took him up the Rocky Mountains and throughout the West. For a time in the early 1840's, he was employed by William Bent as a hunter at Bent's Fort.

As was the case with many white trappers, Carson became somewhat integrated into the Indian world; he traveled and lived extensively among Indians, and his first two wives were Arapahoe and Cheyenne women. Carson was evidently unusual among trappers, however, for his self-restraint and temperate lifestyle. "Clean as a hound's tooth," according to one acquaintance, and a man whose "word was as sure as the sun comin' up," he was noted for an unassuming manner and implacable courage.

In 1842, while returning to Missouri to visit his family, Carson happened to meet John C. Fremont, who soon hired him as a guide. Over the next several years, Carson helped guide Fremont to Oregon and California, and through much of the Central Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin. His service with Fremont, celebrated in Fremont's widely-read reports of his expeditions, quickly made Kit Carson a national hero, presented in popular fiction as a rugged mountain man capable of superhuman feats.

Carson's notoriety grew as his name became associated with several key events in the United States' westward expansion. He was still serving as Fremont's guide when Fremont joined California's short-lived Bear-Flag rebellion just before the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846, and it was Carson who led the forces of U.S. General Stephen Kearney from New Mexico into California when a California band led by Andrés Pico mounted a challenge to American occupation of Los Angeles later that year.

At the end of the war, Carson returned to New Mexico and took up ranching. By 1853, he and his partner were able to drive a large flock of sheep to California, where gold rush prices paid them a handsome profit. This same year Carson was appointed federal Indian agent for Northern New Mexico, a post he held until the Civil War imposed new duties on him in 1861.

Carson played a prominent and memorable role in the Civil War in New Mexico. He helped organize the New Mexico volunteer infantry, which saw action at Valverde in 1862. Most of his military actions, however, were directed against the Navajo Indians, many of whom had refused to be confined upon a distant reservation set up by the government. Beginning in 1863 Carson waged a brutal economic war against the Navajo, marching through the heart of their territory to destroy their crops, orchards and livestock. When Utes, Pueblos, Hopis and Zunis, who for centuries had been prey to Navajo raiders, took advantage of their traditional enemy's weakness by following the Americans onto the warpath, the Navajo were unable to defend themselves. In 1864 most surrendered to Carson, who forced nearly 8,000 Navajo men, women and children to take what came to be called the "Long Walk" of 300 miles from Arizona to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where they remained in disease-ridden confinement until 1868.

After the Civil War, Carson moved to Colorado in the hope of expanding his ranching business. He died there in 1868, and the following year his remains were moved to a small cemetery near his old home in Taos.



Buffalo Bill Cody

William Frederick Cody made a name for himself while he was performing duties for the transcontinental railroad. He was to supply meat for the track laying crew. To this end he brought in a dozen buffalo a day to meet the cook's needs.
The workers nicknamed him "Buffalo Bill."
Word of his efforts reached the ears of Ned Buntline, a dime novelist, who went out to the plains to meet the man. (Actually he was is search of any hint of news out in the territories which he could embellish to sell his books.) Someone pointed out Bill Cody asleep in the shade of a wagon in response to Buntline's inquiries. Then began the entertainment career of Buffalo Bill Cody, Plainsman and Scout.
Cody proceeded to bring the American West to the citified easterners and to those on the European continent. Royalty and street urchin alike marveled at the reenactments of life on the Great Plains; viewing real buffalo herds, actual Indians and feats of sharpshooting accuracy.

Born in 1846 and raised in the Kansas Territory he developed the plainsman basics of riding, tracking, using firearms, and learning the lay of the land. Knowing the local plains and its inhabitants, he worked as a scout for the U. S. Army during the "Indian Wars"; all the while being partial to the plight of the native peoples. In 1883 he produced his first Wild West Show, bringing to his audience reenactments of actual adventures on the plains. He realized that this way of life was soon to pass so for 30 years he delighted the United States and Europe with his remarkable display of frontier life.
He was a generous man as well. Putting his money where his mouth was, figuratively and literally (yes, he drank a bit), he foresaw the need of a reservoir and aqueduct for the town of Cody in Wyoming (near the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park) and paid for the construction of its dam. He speculated in the Oracle mine in Arizona. He put thousands of people to work and made stars out of some of the Wild West performers like Annie Oakley (photo) and Sitting Bull (though he was, of course, an important historical figure already). Not unlike most people in the entertainment business he had financial difficulties from time to time. But he worked on it - he never gave up.
He lived through the settling of the west, the Civil War, the Plains Wars and World War I. He met and dealt with royalty, congressmen and the common person treating them all with equal respect and pleasantness. He lived to see transportation evolve from horses and stagecoaches to the first great railroads traversing our country and to the dawn of the aerospace industry.
He died in Denver in 1917. Return to Last Page



James Bowie

No, he did not invent that Bowie knife -- that was his brother, Rezin P. Bowie, although even he was hardly the first personJim Bowie to make such a knife. James did much to make it famous, such as disemboweling a man with one during a duel turned brawl in Alexandria, Louisiana, in 1827.

He got fairly rich at an early age going into business with two other brothers, Rezin and John, first in sugar milling, then in land speculation, and then in slave trading. The land speculation appears to have involved large tracts in Arkansas for which they had no real title. As for slave trading, they were actually laundering money for the pirate Jean LaFitte. Importing slaves was illegal even if owning them was still legal, so LaFitte. would smuggle them in through the Bowie brothers, who would inform on themselves and as a reward collect half of what this "contraband property" bought at auction. The buyers at the action were usually themselves, and they then resold the victims for a profit. They gave that up after three years and, well-heeled, played the role of young squires in New Orleans. This got boring for James, and he wandered west, arriving in San Antonio in 1828.

He was probably the fanciest, handsomest eligible young bachelor to have walked into that town in a generation, so his betrothal to Ursula Veramendi was only a matter of time. She was the daughter of Don Juan Martin Veramendi, governor of the province of Texas and vice-governor of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Texas. Bowie led the governor's ranging parties against the Comanches, became a Mexican citizen and a Catholic, and married her on April 23, 1831.

Returning from their honeymoon in New Orleans with Rezin in tow, the two brothers led an expedition out to the supposed San Saba silver mines, but what, if anything, they came up with is unknown.

The couple had zero, one or two children -- sources disagree. While Bowie was away on a business trip, a cholera epidemic killed the whole Veramendi family, in September 1833.

He returned to the empty Vermandi house in San Antonio, and turned to the bottle. When war came the Texas government would not give him a commission, but Houston found him useful and treated him as a colonel, based on his ranger service for Veramendi. But if he sent Bowie to the Alamo with the expectation he would evacuate the fort, he had picked the wrong man. By going back to San Antonio, Bowie was going home. Retreat would not have occurred to him.



Stephen F. Austin

Known as "The Father of Texas," Stephen F. Austin established the first Anglo-American colony in the Tejas province ofStephen Austin Mexico and saw it grow into an independent republic.
Austin was born in southwestern Virginia, but his family moved to Missouri when he was five years old. After four years of schooling at Yale College, he returned to Missouri, where he had a mixed career as a storekeeper, manager of the family lead mining business, and director of a failed bank. He served as a militia officer and was a member of the Missouri territorial legislature from 1814 to 1820. In 1820, Arkansas' governor appointed him as a circuit judge.
It was Austin's father, Moses Austin, who took the first steps toward establishing an American colony in Mexican Tejas. In 1820, he traveled to San Antonio to petition for a land grant, and in 1821 received approval to settle 300 American families on 200,000 acres. But Moses Austin died before completing his plans and responsibility for establishing the colony fell to Stephen.
Austin selected a site on the lower Colorado and Brazos rivers, and settled his colonists there in January1822. Almost at once he faced opposition from the newly independent Mexican government, which refused to recognize his father's land grant since it had been made under Spanish charter. Austin traveled to Mexico City to correct this situation, and using skillful diplomacy secured a new law confirming his right to colonize the land and designating him as the new colony's impresario or administrative authority.
Austin occupied a complex and difficult position as intermediary between his colonists and the Mexican government. In his role as impresario, he was responsible for controlling immigration into the region, for establishing a judicial and law-enforcement system, for allocating land according to accurate surveys, and for supervising the creation of a basic social infrastructure -- including roads, schools, sawmills, and granaries. He was also a general ombudsman to the Mexican government for the colonists' interests. In 1827, for example, he lobbied successfully against the banning of slavery in Texas, even though it had been illegal in Mexico since 1824.

Despite growing friction between the American immigrants and the Mexican government, Austin continued to believe that most disputes could be worked out within the Mexican system. Accordingly, he sought to ally himself with Mexican liberals seeking a limited but efficient government and the separation of church and state. His efforts to work out problems within the Mexican system, however, would ultimately proved futile.
In 1830, Mexican officials passed a law prohibiting further American immigration into Tejas, hoping in this way to limit American influence over the region. Austin found a loophole that allowed him to continue expanding his colony, but the law stirred resentment among his colonists, who began calling for a separate state government in Tejas, which was then under the jurisdiction of the neighboring state of Coahuila. Against Austin's advice, they framed a constitution for the proposed state of Texas at the San Felipe Convention in 1833, and had Austin carry it to Mexico City, along with a list of demands for redress of grievances.
Austin had mixed success with the Mexican government. President Antonio López de Santa Anna agreed to repeal the 1830 law against further American immigration, but he refused to grant the request for statehood. He also had Austin imprisoned for a time on suspicion of inciting an insurrection. Even after his release in July 1835, Austin still thought an alliance with Mexican liberals was the best option for Americans in Texas, but the outbreak of the Texas Revolution at Gonzales on October 1, 1835 left him little choice but to support the drive for independence. He took command of the attack on Mexican troops led by Juan Sequin at San Antonio, and then in late 1835 began to act as commissioner to the United States, traveling to Washington to seek military support and the eventual annexation of Texas by the United States. He also sought to rally public support for Texas in speeches delivered along his route.
Austin's efforts in Washington proved unsuccessful, however, and he returned to Texas in June 1836, shortly after the Texas War for Independence had been won at San Jacinto. In the fall, he was defeated in a bid for the presidency by Sam Houston, but he served as secretary of state until his death on December 27, 1836. i
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