Tag Archives: 1836

Texas Independence Trail Motorcycle Ride Day 4 May 2013

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Map of Day 4 Ride Route

Today is the last day of my “Texas Independence Trail” ride. I was up early this morning. I spent the night with my sister, she and her family were up getting ready for work and getting Tavy their granddaughter off to school. We had breakfast and said our good-byes before I headed out. It was another nice cool (cool for Texas) morning with a few clouds which burned off quickly as the day progressed. Before day’s end it did get rather warm at 90 degrees but still not a bad day for riding.

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Rolling down Hwy 59 to Fannin, Texas

My first leg today was down Hwy 59 to Fannin, Texas the historic site of the “Fannin Battleground”. This leg to San Antonio is typical “Texas Coastal Plains”. It is mostly flat covered with Mesquite trees. As you get closer to San Antonio you start to see gently rolling hills… covered with more Mesquite… Fannin, Texas is just off Hwy 59. The battleground is a bit further south on FM 2506. On this site in 1836, brave soldiers fought the Battle of Coleto Creek. The Texans eventually surrendered to overwhelming Mexican forces. Col. Fannin and his men were taken to Goliad and held. This morning was peaceful but somber as I thought about what had happened here so very long ago. I can only imagine what emotions the men must have had in their dire situation…

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Fannin Battleground

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Fannin Battleground Monument

From the battleground, I continued a short distance to Goliad and the site of the massacre of Col. Fannin and his men. At Goliad I rode Hwy 183/77 1.6 miles to Presidio La Bahia. It was here that the following happened.

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Final Resting Place of Col. Fannin and His Men.

The pervious evening, Colonel Portilla had received word directly from General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to execute Col. Fannin and his men. It was a foggy morning on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. Fannin and his men had been held captive for one week. Fannin’s men were told to gather up their things. They thought they would be sent to New Orleans but were lead out in groups and executed instead. Colonel Fannin was the last to be executed. Fannin made three requests, not to be shot in the face, his personal possessions be sent to his family, and that he be given a Christian burial. He was shot in the face, an officer took his personal possessions, and his body was burned along with many of the other bodies. There were 342 men who died in the Goliad Massacre. Twice the number of men who died at the Alamo and San Jacinto combined. It was a senseless massacre by the brutal Mexican leader Santa Anna. This massacre inflamed the Texan’s cause and spurred the battle cry, “Remember Goliad!”

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Presidio La Bahia

There was some good that happened that day… Twenty-eight men did escape the massacre and seventeen men’s lives were spared. Because of the accounts of these men who escaped and were spared we know what happened that day. The Angel of Goliad, Francita Alavez, and General Urrea’s wife saved the lives of a number of men.

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For more than two months after the massacre, the ghastly remains of the massacred men of Fannin’s Command were found in the partially covered trenches where they had been dumped and burned. General Thomas J. Rusk, had the remains gathered and buried in a mass grave with military honors. At the grave General Rusk delivered a short, but eloquent address.

FELLOW SOLDIERS: In the order of Providence we are this day called upon to pay the last sad offices of respect to the remains of the noble and heroic band, who, battling for our sacred rights, have fallen beneath the ruthless hand of a tyrant. Their chivalrous conduct entitles them to the heartfelt gratitude of the people of Texas. Without any further interest in the country than that which all noble hearts feel at the bare mention of liberty, they rallied to our standard. Relinquishing the ease, peace, and comforts of their homes, leaving behind them all they held dear, their mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives, they subjected themselves to fatigue and privation, and nobly threw themselves between the people of Texas and the legions of Santa Anna. There, unaided by re-enforcement’s and far from help and hope, they battled bravely with the minions of a tyrant, ten to one. Surrounded in the open prairie by this fearful odds, cut off from provisions and even water, they were induced, under the sacred promise of receiving the treatment usual to prisoners of war, to surrender. They were marched back, and for a week treated with the utmost inhumanity and barbarity. They were marched out of yonder fort under the pretense of getting provisions, and it was not until the firing of musketry did the shrieks of the dying, that they were satisfied of their approaching fate. Some endeavored to make their escape, but they were pursued by the ruthless cavalry and most of them cut down with their swords. A small number of them stand by the grave-a bare remnant of that noble band. Our tribute of respect is due to them; it is due to the mothers, sisters, and wives who weep their untimely end, that we should mingle our tears with theirs. In that mass of remains and fragments of bones, many a mother might see her son, many a sister her brother, and many a wife her own beloved and affectionate husband. But we have a consolation- yet to offer them: their murderers sank in death on the prairies of San Jacinto, under the appalling words, “Remember La Bahia.” Many a tender and affectionate woman will remember, with tearful eye, “La Bahia.” But we have another consolation to offer. It is, that while liberty has a habitation and a name, their chivalrous deeds will be handed down upon the bright pages of history. We can still offer another consolation: Santa Anna, the mock hero, the black-hearted murderer, is within our grasp. Yea, and there he must remain, tortured with the keen pain of corroding conscience. He must oft remember La Bahia, and while the names of those whom he murdered shall soar to the highest pinnacle of fame, his shall sink down into the lowest depths of infamy and disgrace.

On June 4, 1938, in celebration of the Texas Centennial, a massive pink granite monument marking the grave site was dedicated.

There is much more to this story. You can learn more by following the links above.

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Mission Espiritu Santo

I was making good time so I stopped at Goliad State Park to tour “Mission Espiritu Santo”. The park is just a short distance from Presidio La Bahia when heading back to Goliad.

The mission was established in 1722 by the Spanish. It is one of the many missions in the area. Following decades of unsuccessful treasure-hunting expeditions in the southwest, led by Coronado and others, the Spanish turned to colonization. The system that emerged in the colonization process entailed the establishment of a mission, a fort or presidio. The system was intended to have the character of Spain’s system of feudal estates. Soldiers guarded the inhabitants to repel incursions from the French.  The mission housed the staff, native peoples, families, and others.

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Mission Espiritu Santo

The mission had moved several times and lay in ruin. Archeologists from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Archeological Society have done extensive excavations to the site. The church and other buildings have been fully reconstructed and furnished to provide a glimpse of the site’s colorful past. Interpretive exhibits help to tell a story not only of life at the mission but aspects of the archeological investigations and restoration process.

If you enjoy history and have some time to explore the rich history of the mission it is well worth you’re your time. I have plans to ride to all of the missions in the area some day. Stay tuned for that.

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The Alamo

When I left the mission it was starting to warm up. From Goliad I picked up Hwy 239 to Kenedy where I rode Hwy 181 to San Antonio the site of the Alamo. As you get closer to San Antonio you start to see more gently rolling hills… covered with more Mesquite… It was a nice ride.

The Alamo is located in downtown San Antonio. Many people are surprised by that. I was pretty warm by the time I got to San Antonio. All the concrete and asphalt help to collect the heat and make it even warmer. That is one reason I try to avoid city riding… that and all the cars, trucks and traffic…

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The Alamo Grounds

The Alamo is probably the best known story about Texas’ battle for independence. There are many more stories that could have been told. It is an amazing story about courage and overwhelming odds. Santa Anna thought it would be a quick victory and he would be moving on to wipeout the remaining Texas army.

The arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio, on February 23, 1836, nearly caught the Texians by surprise. The Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held off against Santa Anna’s army for 13 days. There were about 200 defenders at the Alamo. The defenders saw the Alamo as the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. The best known among the Alamo’s defenders were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836. Mexican soldiers headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. The Mexicans regrouped, scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.

As many as seven defenders survived the battle, but Santa Anna ordered their execution. Though Santa Anna had his victory, the common soldiers paid the price. Accounts vary, but best estimates place the number of Mexicans killed and wounded at about 600.

People worldwide remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds… a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason, the Alamo will always remain hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

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River Walk in San antonio, Texas

While in San Antonio I took the time to have a late… very late lunch on the “River Walk”. There are many restaurants all along the river to eat. To me it is the only place to eat in downtown San Antonio… particularly if you like Mexican food.

I had planned to ride to Gonzales to visit the Memorial Museum. The museum houses a large collection of objects, documents and photographs pertaining to Gonzales’ role in the shaping of Texas history. If I had rode there I wouldn’t have had much time to tour the museum and get back home in a timely manner. So after lunch I headed home via I-35… San Antonio to Georgetown via I-35, for the most part, parallels the Balcones Fault which is the boundary between the Texas Coastal Plain and the Texas Hill Country. Riding north you have the start of the Texas Hill Country on your left and on your right the terrain is much flatter with gentle rolling hills.

I made it home around 4:00. My only regrets were not having Janet along to share all the sites. My cousin W. D. supposed to have rode with me on this ride but wasn’t able to ride along due to putting his scooter in the shop. W.D. would have really enjoyed the ride and all the people we would have met would have enjoyed meeting W.D. W.D. is… how, should I say this… very entertaining… You just need to meet him to know what I am talking about…

The last four days was a fun ride. I’m glad I was finally able to do this ride. Click here for more information about the “Texas Independence Trail”. Weather you ride or drive you will see some beautiful scenic Texas countryside and explore many historic Texas sites.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this ride as much as I have sharing it with y’all (you). We Texans are a proud bunch and are very proud of our history. Making this ride gave me the chance to revisit the history and learn a few things that I previously did not know. Visiting these historic sites brought the history and sacrifice into focus like it never has been before.

You can read the other posts about this ride here…

Texas Independence Trail Motorcycle Ride Day 2 May 2013

 

Map of Day 2 Ride Route

Map of Day 2 Ride Route

I was staying with my son Tony and his family. They were sleeping in so I loaded the bike and slipped away. I stopped at Denny’s for a leisurely breakfast. There was no hurry because it is only 50 miles to the San Jacinto Monument. I hate driving in Houston traffic on four wheels so I really hate Houston traffic on two… Even though I rode through Houston it was a nice ride. The weather was 67 degrees with just a few clouds and very light Sunday morning traffic…

Early Sunday Morning I-610

Early Sunday Morning I-610

I have a love/hate relationship with my GPS… I had more GPS problems today. When I tried to enter my first stop, “The San Jacinto Monument”, the GPS couldn’t find it! I tried to enter the address 3523 Independence Parkway but still no result. I looked at the GPS map and found the street to be labeled Battleground Road instead of Independence Parkway. Using 3523 Battleground Road worked. What a hassle… So if you are heading that way and using your GPS please take note… Once I found the road… the signs use both names… The map people didn’t get the memo…

You can see the monument for miles before you actually get there. It is an impressive sight.

San Jacinto Monument

San Jacinto Monument

There is no charge for the monument unless you want to see the view from atop the monument. You take the elevator up to the Monument’s Observation floor, 489 feet above the Battleground. Once at the top you will have a beautiful view of the city, Houston Ship Channel, harbor and surrounding area. The San Jacinto Museum of History is housed in the base of the San Jacinto Monument and has priceless artifacts, dioramas, 250,000 documents and 40,000 books chronicling more than 400 years of early Texas history.

Walking the Battleground there are granite markers designating locations of the Texian camps, the Mexican camps, the advance by Texian forces and other information about the battle.

San Jacinto Monument

San Jacinto Monument

If you are not a Texan you may be asking yourself… “What’s the big deal?” Well… the Texans had lost the battles of the Alamo and Goliad. The men at those locations fought a fierce fight and died horrific deaths for what they believed. Santa Anna thought he had it all wrapped up except for finishing off Sam Houston and his men… few in numbers and corner at San Jacinto. Two of the plaques on the on the monument sums it up best.

With the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” The Texans charged. The enemy, taken by surprise rallied for a few minutes then fled in disorder. The Texans ask no quarter and gave none. The slaughter was appalling, victory complete and Texas free! On the following day General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna self-styled “Napoleon of the West” received from a generous foe the mercy he had denied Travis at the Alamo and Fannin at Goliad.

Measure by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here lead to the annexation and the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma almost one third of the present area of the American Nation, nearly a million square miles of territory changed sovereignty.

The fight lasted just 18 minutes. About 630 Mexican soldiers were killed and 730 captured, while only 9 Texans died. Santa Anna fled the battle disguised as an enlisted man. Santa Anna was captured the following day and held as a prisoner of war. Three weeks later, he signed the peace treaty that paved the way for the Republic of Texas to become an independent country.

Text on base of the San Jacinto Monument

Text on base of the San Jacinto Monument

Text on the base of the San Jacinto Monument

Text on the base of the San Jacinto Monument

So this is a big deal for us Texans and we are proud of our history and culture. All the historic sites of the “Texas Independence Trail” help remind us of where we have come and help us to be mindful of our responsibility to our past and future generations.

For more on the battle click here ( http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qes04 ).

San Jacinto Monument Reflecting Pool with Battleship Texas

San Jacinto Monument Reflecting Pool with Battleship Texas

While at the San Jacinto Battleground and Monument you may want to spend some time at the Battleship Texas, located just across Battlefield Road. You can see the battleship when looking down the reflective pool from the monument. The admission fee is $12 for everyone 13 years old and older. The tour is self guided and there is a lot of history to be seen about the battleship and World War II.

Beach at Galveston

Beach at Galveston

The rest of the ride was very enjoyable. By now it was overcast and it was in the low 80’s. From San Jacinto I rode to La Porte and rode down Hwy 146 to Galveston. Hwy 146 parallels Galveston Bay with many nice views of the bay all along the way. When I got to Galveston I rode Seawall Blvd. to the northeast end of the island before turning around and heading southwest to Surfside. There was lots of swimmers on the beach today and traffic on Seawall Blvd. was rather heavy.

Rolling down San Louis Pass Road

Rolling down San Louis Pass Road

San Louis Pass Road

San Louis Pass Road

I rode to Surfside via Seawall Blvd., San Louis Pass Rd., and Bluewater Hwy. There is a toll ($2) bridge where San Louis Pass Rd. ends and where Bluewater Hwy starts.

Because I forgot the GPS was set to avoid toll roads, it kept trying to route me around this bridge. I forgot about the toll bridge and was a bit annoyed with the GPS… again… When I got to the bridge I realized what my problem was.

Rolling down the Bluewater Highway

Rolling down the Bluewater Highway

This leg of my ride was a nice leisurely ride with cool sea breezes, over cast skies and great beach views along the way. At Freeport I picked up Hwy 36 and rode to West Columbia my final destination for the day.

First Capital of Texas at West Columbia

First Capital of Texas at West Columbia

West Columbia is my hometown and was the “First Capitol of Texas”. Around 1833 Leman Kelsey built a story and a half structure.  In 1836 West Columbia then known as Columbia became the first capital of the Republic of Texas and this building was one of two that housed the new government of the Republic of Texas.  The Congress convened here and Sam Houston took the office as President and Stephen F. Austin as Secretary of State.  In 1837, the government moved to the new city of Houston. The 1900 storm destroyed the original capital. A Replica was built at this site in 1976-77. The replica depicts how the interior and exterior looked during 1836.

Replica of the First Capital Of Texas Building

Replica of the First Capital Of Texas Building

Replica of the First Capital of Texas Building

Replica of the First Capital of Texas Building

Much of my family still lives in the area. When I say much I mean much… I have over 40 first cousins and many aunts, uncles and second and third cousins! I will be staying with my brother Gary and his wife Ginny tonight.

It was a fun and busy day riding and exploring just a small part of Texas’ history…

You can read the other post about this ride here…

 

Texas Independence Trail Motorcycle Ride Day 1 May 2013

 

Map of Day 1

Map of Day 1

After seeing an article in the “Texas Highways” magazine about the “Texas Independence Trail” I thought it would be a good motorcycle ride. I have seen the road signs in the past many times but hadn’t given it much thought until seeing this article. The Texas Historical Commission has charted out a good motorcycle adventure with its delineation of the Texas Independence Trail region. The trail is an area that winds through the Houston/Galveston area following the coast to West Columbia and Victoria. The trail then continues on to Goliad, San Antonio, Gonzales, Bastrop and Brenham. All along the trail are sites rich in Texas Independence history and much more.

Texas Independence Hall @ Washington on the Brazos

Texas Independence Hall @ Washington on the Brazos

 

Texas Independence Trail road signs.

Texas Independence Trail road signs.

Here is a timeline for those of you not familiar with Texas history. It will help you unravel what happened and maybe you understand what I was seeing…

  • December 1821: Stephen F. Austin settles the first 300 Anglo families in Texas.
  • April 1834: Santa Anna takes control of Mexico and repeals Constitution of 1824.
  • October 2, 1835: The first military engagement of the Texas Revolution.
  • February 22/24 1836: Santa Anna attacks the Alamo.
  • March 2, 1836: Texian delegates (comprised of Anglo and Mexican) gather at Washington on the Brazos to sign a declaration of independence and create a government.
  • March 6, 1836: The Alamo falls to Santa Anna and the Mexican Army.
  • March 27, 1836: Col. Fannin and his men are massacred at Goliad.
  • April 21, 1836: General Sam Houston and the Texas Army defeat Santa Anna at San Jacinto.
  • October 1836: The first permanent government of the Republic was elected under President Sam Houston, and met at Columbia in the fall of 1836.

100_6195   Due to the logistics, I wasn’t able follow the exact trail. I did follow it as much as possible. There is a lot to see on the trail, but I was limited by time, so I tried to hit the most significant points along the way. These were my goals…

Janet was in San Diego so she wasn’t able to go on the ride. My cousin W. D. was going but at the last minute he had to put his scooter in the shop and he is waiting on a part. I thought about not doing the ride. I decided if I was going I needed to leave the next day. Late that night, I packed everything and loaded the saddle bags to leave the next morning and hoped I hadn’t forgotten something. When I left the weather was perfect, 66 degrees and partly cloudy. I headed out and was about 20 miles from home when I realized… I had left the camera! I had to have the camera… so back home I went. I lost about an hour but I had lots of daylight left. The total mileage for today was 198 miles, excluding the miles for going back home for the camera.

Texas Independence Trail motorcycle ride

Independence Hall @ Washington on the Brazos

My first and only stop today is Washington on the Brazos the site of Texas declaring its independence from Mexico. The ride to Washington on the Brazos was a good one. The spring wildflowers were still blooming and added a splash of color to the green from the recent rains. Along my route were many gentle hills covered in trees and open pasture areas. There were some nice gentle curves along the way, too. It was a cool ride both figuratively and literally.

Washington on the Brazos Visitor Center

Washington on the Brazos Visitor Center

Washington on the Brazos, the birth place of Texas, is now a state park. You can walk the grounds where there are markers telling what was where at the time. Everything is free unless you want to take one of the guided tours or tour the new “The Star of the Republic” museum. The museum is administered by Blinn College. Independence Hall is revered as one of Texas’ most significant historic places. The original building burned sometime around the turn of the century but a replica of Independence Hall marks the place where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed and the government of the Republic of Texas was created.

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Independence Hall

Also at the park is the Barrington Living History Farm where you can travel back in time to participate in the daily activities of an 1850’s cotton farm. You may take part in seasonal activities, daily chores, games and toys of the time. I could have stayed longer at the park… there is a lot to take in… but it was almost 1:00 and I was starving. So I was back on the road looking for a good place to eat…

Texas Independence Trail

Texas Independence Trail

I had made good time in spite of the late start. Now it was on to visit my son Tony and his family in Spring. The ride was more of what I had seen earlier in the day. Gentle hills and curves with wild flowers beside the road and in open pastures… It was nice, not too warm and traffic wasn’t bad. I was dreading Houston traffic and was relieved that it was not too bad… This was partly because it was Saturday and I had some good luck. I stayed the night with Tony and we had a nice visit. Savanna, my granddaughter, wasn’t too sure about me and the motorcycle… but since grandma wasn’t with me (she is a grandma’s girl) it didn’t take her long to get over it. She had to show me all of her dolls, toys and her new big girl bed. Tomorrow it is on to the San Jacinto Battleground and Monument… Stay tuned… You can read the other posts about this ride here…