Remember…Texas Independence - . . . The Quest

Remember…Texas Independence – . . . The Quest

Remember…Texas Independence – . . . The Quest

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Remember…Texas Independence - . . . The Quest

Texas Phrases

Remember the Alamo! Remember Gonzales! Remember Goliad!

If you’re a Texan, you moved to Texas, or you have family in Texas, you’ve likely heard at least one of these phrases, if not all of them, at some time in your life. Even if you have no connection to the Lone Star State at all, I’m guessing they are familiar. If you haven’t heard them, get ready. It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.

The beautiful walls of the Alamo are a beautiful site to see. And for those of you wondering, the Alamo was built first, before all those big buildings came up around it. 🙂

Texas Pride

Texans are a proud lot. In fact, some people who aren’t from Texas, confuse that pride with arrogance. If you’ve been following my blog for any time, you’ll know I’m one of those proud Texans, and I make no apology for it. In fact, I’m a bit sad when I ask someone where they live, and they are almost ashamed to share the state from which they came.

Having lived in more than 20 cities and towns in this state, I have seen greatness from the people and places throughout my life. The inside of my Official International World Headquarters of How Big Is Texas near Tyler should show you that I am a proud Texan.

Official International World Headquarters of How Big Is Texas

A Trip to Experience Texas Independence

Because of my Texas pride, I recently decided to take a road trip from my home near Tyler and visit the places in Texas affiliated with Texas Independence including Goliad, Gonzales, San Antonio, West Columbia, Washington on the Brazos, and more. And I decided to do it the weekend of Texas Independence Day that falls on March 2. In fact, this was the 188th anniversary of our independence from Mexico.

You could actually do the drive chronologically, but for the sake of time and not circling back in my car, I drove around the state based more on convenience and because I had a limited amount of time to experience the trip.

I want to preface this post by stating I am not a historian. I base this information on things I have read from what I deem to be reliable sources. If you spot a grievous error I need to correct, please let me know.

Sam Houston Memorial Museum and Republic of Texas Presidential Library

The first stop on my trip was the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville. As Sam is the first president of the Republic of Texas, I felt it was only right to drop by his home, adjacent to my old alma mater – Sam Houston State University. The house is located on 15 acres of the Houston family’s homestead. While I was there, several school groups were there for field trips, which was refreshing to see that kids are still be taught the history of Texas. Glass walls offer an insight to the visitor of how Sam and his family lived back in the day. By today’s standards, it looks like the Houston family came from humble beginnings. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take in the vast Republic of Texas Presidential Library. I truly believe that’s at least a half day stop on its own so I’ll have to plan for that in the future.

A few miles outside of Huntsville, when you head south on Interstate 45, you’ll see Sam at his finest, standing proudly 67-feet tall on a 10-foot granite base. Built in 1994, the statue is titled A Tribute to Courage. Aside from the statue, check out the visitor center and gift shop.

San Jacinto Battleground

Continuing south through Houston to LaPorte, as you get closer to San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and the San Jacinto Monument, you might notice that some of the oil tanks in the area are painted to depict the Battle of San Jacinto. The murals are Texas sized at 40’ by 140’, so they make a statement as they depict the battle for Texas independence.

Rather than take the conventional road to the monument, you might consider taking the Lynchburg Ferry crossing. I didn’t cross by the ferry this time but have done so before. The story goes that the Texans crossed on rafts so they could get to Lynch’s Ferry before the Mexican army. Through capturing some of the Mexican army, General Sam found out that Santa Anna was going to use the ferry to cross. They waited for them in the timber and used the Twin Sisters cannons, which are on display at the historic site, to stop them. The rest, as they say is history.

You can walk the site of the battle and see monuments to the fallen. The area is is adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel. For the best view, take the elevator in the San Jacinto Monument for a bird’s eye view of the battlefield. When you’re done, make sure to go through the museum to learn even more about the incredible battle that won Texas her independence.

View from the top of the San Jacinto Monument

West Columbia

Having visited West Columbia a few times, I always love to share this community and its importance, as it seems to be known by few. The town of West Columbia was home to the First Capitol of the elected government of the Republic of Texas in 1836. They have a replica of the building near the Chamber of Commerce and a beautiful memorial at the original site entitled the Capitol of Texas Park – A Walk through the Birth of Texas.

Another interesting fact about the community is it is also the location where Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, died. Austin was renting a room from the McKinstry family. He caught pneumonia and passed away in their cabin on December 27, 1836. A plaque is placed on the ground where the room Austin passed away in once stood.

Fannin Battleground

A few miles from Goliad is the Fannin Battleground Historic Site. The Battle of Coleto Creek took place here on March 19-20, 1836. The commander of the Texians was Col. James W. Fannin and they fought against Mexico under the leadership of Gen. Jose de Urrea. After realizing the Texians could not win, Col. Fannin surrendered, understanding they would become Prisoners of War. They were taken to Goliad and Mexican General Santa Anna ordered the surviving men to be executed.

The site includes a small, self-guided information center with details of the battle, along with an obelisk that stands in the middle of the field as a tribute to the men who fought.

Goliad

After visiting the Fannin Battleground and knowing the fate of the men who fought there, it is difficult to then go to the Presidio la Bahia State Historic Site in Goliad. Walking into the church and knowing the men lost their lives for the cause of independence for Texas is overwhelming. Walking on the grounds is also emotional. Knowing they are remembered and continuing to remember them is so important to the history of Texas. You can actually spend the night at the site in the former officer’s quarters. I don’t know that I would ever do that but, maybe.

Located between the Presidio and Fannin Memorial Monument, is a statue of Francita Alavez, also known as the Angel of Goliad. Francita influenced Captain Telesforo Alavez with the Mexican army to not execute 20 of the men who had been brough from Copano to Goliad. After the victory in San Jacinto, Francita also aided Texans held prisoner in Matamoros. When you visit Goliad, make sure you pay your respects to this heroine.

Fannin Memorial Monument

The monument is a memorial to those lost at Goliad. It was erected in 1938 and is made of pink granite. More than 300 were executed.

Remember Goliad!

San Antonio

I have visited San Antonio, the other Missions, and the Alamo many times. However, I have never been there on March 1. On this day in 1836, 32 reinforcements from Gonzales arrived at the Alamo to join their brothers their to defend her walls. A reenactment ceremony is conducted annually of this event, and I had the good fortune to view it this time. As a proud Texan, it touched me to see both young and old participating in this event that is yet another important piece of Texas History.

While I was in San Antonio in the morning on this visit, I’ve had the good fortune to be in town overnight several times. Since 2014 at the San Fernando Cathedral from Tuesday through Sunday, a video projection is displayed at 9pm and 9:30pm. Known as The Saga, what I would describe as a light show displayed on the walls of the church, depicts the history of San Antonio, Texas, and the U.S. The show is 24 minutes long and can be viewed from the Main Plaza. It is a breathtaking and unforgettable experience.

Also at the Cathedral of San Fernando are the remains of the Alamo fallen. Entombed in a beautiful memorial and located a little over a half mile from the historic mission, you can view the memorial on the left-hand side of the chapel as you enter.

Remains of the Alamo fallen located at Cathedral of San Fernando

Remember the Alamo!

Cost

Most people, including Texans, have never heard of the town of Cost. A first glance at the sleepy town doesn’t reveal a lot. In the fight for Texas Independence, Cost has a significant place in our history. In the tiny community, the first shots for Texas independence were fired. The rest, as they say, is history. Two locations have markers to recognize the event – one from a group of school children and the other a monument placed in 1935.

The irony wasn’t lost on me of the name of the town. As they say, freedom isn’t free. There is, indeed, always a cost.

Gonzales

If you drive around Texas enough, you are likely to spot a white “Come and Take It Flag” flying under the Texas flag or by itself. You might even spot a bumper sticker with the same mantra.

If you’re not familiar with the meaning of the phrase, in late fall of 1835, what is considered to be the first battle of the Texas Revolution took place, the Battle of Gonzales. The people of Gonzales were in possession of a Spanish-made, bronze artillery cannon that was used to protect them against hostile Indians at the time and the Mexican army wanted it.

Two women, Caroline Zumwalt and Eveline DeWitt, created the aforementioned flag using fabric from a white wedding dress, which is why the flag is always white when you see it. Because of this, the small cannon is referred to as the Come and Take It Cannon.

When you visit the small community of Gonzales, you can view the cannon and learn more about the battle and the Old 18 who defended the community against the Mexican army at the Gonzales Memorial Museum.

A little more than nine miles from the museum in Gonzales, down Highways 90A, you’ll see a historical marker. Only .3 of a mile down a dirt road past the marker is the Braches House of 1842. Near this historic home is a mighty oak known as the Sam Houston Oak or the Runaway Scrape Oak. The story goes that General Sam Houston and more than 400 Texans camped under the oak after retreating from Gonzales. They made a plan to divide the Mexican army and from there, they traveled to San Jacinto to fight Santa Anna and his army in the final battle for Texas Independence that took place on April 21, 1836.

1842 Braches House and the Sam Houston Oak

Remember Gonzales!

Austin

From Gonzales, I headed north to the Capitol City of Austin. While there, I visited the Texas State Cemetery. Inside are markers memorializing those who were part of the fight for Texas Independence. You will also find other important gravesites, including Father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, 11 Texas governors, and even a piece of the World Trade Center from the attack on September 11, 2001.

If you haven’t visited the Texas State Capitol, I encourage you to do so. From the well-manicured grounds with gorgeous old oak trees to the intricate details of the structure itself, you will better understand the reason for so much Texas pride. She is a glorious site to behold.

Washington on the Brazos

My first time at Washington on the Brazos was sadly only a couple of years ago when I took my daughter-in-law on a Texas Independence Trail Region weekend. I don’t know why I waited so long, but I’m glad I finally visited and was even more delighted to return again, this time on March 2. I was able to experience a bit of what it was like on that same day 188 years ago when 59 delegates, representing the settlements in Texas, gathered to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.

What a sight it must have been to see the signing in person and to read the constitution drafted for those families representing the future Lone Star State!

Mapping It

Below is a map of all my locations and how you can experience Texas independence locations, too. As I shared earlier in my post, I didn’t have enough time to visit the locations based on the timeline in which they happened, but that could be a goal in 12 years when we celebrate the 200th anniversary.

Remember…

In the words of William Barret Travis, written on March 3, 1836, three days before the Alamo fell, “I feel confident that the determined valor and desperate courage, heretofore exhibited by my men, will not fail them in the last struggle; and although they may be sacrificed to the vengeance of a Gothic enemy, the victory will cost the enemy so dear, that it will be worse for him than defeat.”

The words of William Barret Travis at the Alamo on March 3, 1836, on a stone at Texas State Cemetery.

While we remember these important events and locations annually, the older I get the more I believe we should remember them more often and share this history with others. As I wrote earlier, I am not a historian, but I am certainly proud of my Texas roots. If you want to do a deep dive into the history of the Lone Star State, I encourage you to take the time and read about it. You’ll be amazed.

Remember the Alamo. Remember Goliad. Remember Gonzales. Remember Texas Independence. God Bless Texas!

Until next time…from Texas…safe travels!

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.

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