Musings and Misadventures

Texas’ Daughter

Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, but Mexican Texas remained wild and uninhabited and few were willing to face both the natural dangers and those posed by the outlaws and native tribes who did inhabit the region. The General Colonization Law was enacted in 1824 by the Mexican government enabling heads of households to obtain lands in Texas. By that time Stephen F. Austin had already obtained a land grant and brought three hundred families to Texas as the first Texas empresario. These families are commonly referred to in Texas as The Old Three Hundred.

Guadalupe River
Guadalupe River crossing about three miles upstream of the site of the Battle of Gonzales

I am Old Three Hundred. I am a direct descendant on my mother’s side of John Borden. He and his brother, Gail, came to Texas with Austin and in 1835 established the Telegraph and Texas Register, one of the first printing presses in Texas. On my father’s side, I am a direct descendant of William Becknell, who is credited with forging the Santa Fe Trail. Captain Becknell heard of the trouble in Texas and having ties to Texians, he came south over the Red River as fast as his horse could travel. He was trying to join the Texan forces but was just behind them as they fled toward the Texas coast, finally joining them in the aftermath of the battle of San Felipe. He was asked by General Sam Houston to guard the captive General Santa Anna and his subordinates as Houston feared his own men, in their rage over the massacres at the Alamo and Goliad, would kill them before a treaty could be signed.

Many of my friends and neighbors are also Old Three Hundred descendants. It’s rather awe-inspiring to think that our families have been loving and building Texas together for two hundred years. Living half-way between what was once known as San Antonio de Bexar and the Dewitt colony settlement of Gonzales, the tangible tracks of our ancestors are everywhere; from the names of roads to the ruins of a cabin. Sometimes when I stand and look over a horse’s back at the horizon, I think about those early Texans and their lives and my imagination takes hold. Today, I was thinking of spring and the Runaway Scrape and this thought about the lasting power of Texas women came to my mind.

She stood on the porch

Empty rifle in her hand

Listening quietly for a soft hoof beat stirring in the sand

A feathered arrow could steal her breath

It wasn’t that she feared it, she just lived every day with Death

No threat of Comanches, wolves or hunger

Could force her to resign the beauty of a storm full of thunder

 

Oh Eliza, you lived your time on the edge of the bluff, on the edge of the river, at the edge of life

No moment certain, no tomorrow sure

No greater calling than a daughter, a mother and a wife

 

South of the Arkansas, South of the Red

Clear to the Rio Bravo, her horizons led

A brother dead on the riverbank in Bexar

Another fled from the Bahia nightmare

 

Oh Eliza, you lived your time on the edge of the bluff, on the edge of a river, at the edge of life

No moment certain, no tomorrow sure

No greater calling than a daughter, a mother and a wife

 

Catkins dance through the burning embers

“Leave de Cos no standing timbers”

“Oh Bill, my boys are hot with blood-lust.

Guard those prisoners well or all we’ll have is dust.”

 

Oh Eliza, you lived your time  on the edge of the bluff, at the edge of a river, at the edge of life

No moment certain, no tomorrow sure

No greater calling than a daughter, a mother and a wife

 

Blood on the wagon floor, a daughter borne

Pretty little Rose without a thorn

In the corner of the graveyard where the catkins play

Sags a crooked stone from another day

 

Oh Eliza, you lived your time on the edge of the bluff, on the edge of a river, at the edge of life

No moment certain, no tomorrow sure

No greater calling than a daughter, a mother and a wife

 

 

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