SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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José Antonio Baldemero Navarro was born in San Antonio de Bexar, Province of Texas, on 27 February 1795. He was of Corsican descent, the son of Ángel Navarro (born about 1750) who left his native Ajaccio, Corsica in the 1760's. According to his own biographical sketch, Ángel Navarro ran away from his Corsican home at age 13 or 14. He spent time as a servant in Genoa, Barcelona and Cadiz and finally came to Spanish colonial Mexico as a servant where he learned the merchant trade in Nuevo Leon and Real de Bayecillos. He was in San Antonio by 1779 where records indicate he was a 27 year old unmarried merchant possessing one horse. He married María Josefa Ruiz y Peña (born 1766), daughter of Juan Manuel Ruiz of Queretaro and Manuela de la Peña of Saltillo, a family with San Antonio links. Memoirs of a contemporary named Rodriguez remarked: Ángel Navarro
The Navarro and Bonaparte families of Corsica have been said to have been related, but the link has never been proven. Ángel Navarro served in the Spanish army and rose to rank of Colonel before assignment to Texas to quell Indian uprisings and reduce them to servitude if possible. He was a San Antonio merchant and in 1790 was alcalde. Ángel Navarro died 31 Oct 1808 and according to records had a full Roman Catholic service and was buried in the "new" Catholic cemetery (the present site of Milam Square). On his death bed, he is said to have pledged his children to give their lives to the development of Texas and its independence and freedom.
In addition to José Antonio Baldomero (b. 27 Feb 1795), Ángel and María Ruiz Navarro had children José Franciso Eduardo (b. 1783), José Ángel (de los Angeles) (1784-1836), María Gertrudis, María Simona, María Francisco Candida, María Josefa Candida (married Juan Martín Veramendi), José Francisco Salas (b. 1794), María Antonio (b. 1797), José Luciano (b. 1800), José Anselmo (b. 1802) and José Eugenio (1803-1838). According to Chabot in Makers of San Antonio, local traditions said that three daughters of Ángel Navarro were adopted and raised by relatives: Juana Gertrudis (later m. Alejo Péres) who was adopted by Juan Veramendi, María Gertrudis (later m. Miguel Cantú) adopted by Luciano Navarro and Josefa (Chipita) adopted by Luz Escalera. At least the former two refer to daughters of José Antonio Navarro's older brother, José Ángel Navarro. He served in the royal Spanish army, but fled to southern Mexico because of sympathy with independence movements. He returned to handle the surrender of Texas Spanish governor Antonio Martinez and San Antonio government archives to the plan of the Mexican Iturbide government for independence, was jefe-politico of the province of Bexar in 1835 and aided the cause of Texas independence in numerous ways. He first married Concepción Cervantes and had at least daughters Juana Gertrudis, María Petra, and María Gertrudis. He married second María Juana Ramírez. Juana Navarro Perez Alsbury, wife of Horace A. Alsbury, was essentially the adopted sister of Ursala María Veramendi, wife of James Bowie. Juana and sister María Gertrudis Navarro were present during and survived the Battle of the Alamo in March 1836. José Luciano Navarro was less politically active than his brothers and involved himself in business affairs of the family and is thought to have supplied Texian forces when needed. He married Teodora Sánchez de Carbajal and through her brother, José María Jesús Carbajal, became involved with Mexican Federalist forces in 1838-40. Eldest daughter, Angela, married William Gordon Cooke. José Eugenio Navarro served in the local Bexar presidial militia under his uncle, José Francisco Ruiz. Like his brothers, he was a supporter of the independence of Texas and supported the Texian cause. San Fernando church records state on 7 May 1838, he was "single, Spanish, was killed by a pagan man from the colony of Texas." He is said to have stabbed the gunman to death before he died.
The Navarro family came to know young Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna when he visited San Antonio as a young Lieutenant in the Spanish Army. José Antonio Navarro picked up some background in commerce and law in New Orleans and Saltillo, but to no small extent was self-educated by reading any books he could get his hands on. After his father's death in 1808, he took part in the Magee, Gutiérrez and Toledo resistance movements against Spanish rule in 1812-1813 along with renowned Bexareño Texan relations uncle José Francisco Ruiz and his brother-in-law Juan Martín Veramendi. He was a personal friend of Stephen F. Austin, in a letter to Mirabeau Lamar he stated "that Stephen F. Austin was and will be, the most illustrious Anglo-American who will fructify our native soil with his remains, and (finally,) I wish to increase the merited praises of that eminent man...." Archival correspondence indicates that Navarro and Austin sought each others advice and did business together.
Don José Navarro was largely self-trained in law and specialized in Spanish and Mexican law. When Coahuila y Texas became a state in 1824, Navarro was elected to the legislature where he was a fierce champion of the liberal Federal Constitution of 1824 and development of the state through colonization. In January 1831, Governor of the state, José María Viesca, appointed him commissioner of the DeWitt Colony. Navarro played a key administrative and political role in development of the colony equal to empresario Green DeWitt and surveyor James Kerr. He was responsible for survey and issuance of legal land titles and organization of the Gonzales Ayuntamiento when the colony became eligible to establish its own government. His signature appears on all the land title documents of the colony. In 1835 he was elected as a deputy to the National Mexican Congress representing Coahuila y Texas, however, later resigned as the movement for independence gained momentum.
José Navarro played an often forgotten leading part in the colonization and independence movement of Texas. On 2 March 1836, he was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence and served as elected Senator in the Congress of the Republic of Texas. In his diary of Mar 1836 recording observations while present at the independence convention at Washington, William Fairfax Gray remarked about Navarro:
Navarro owned granted and purchased lands in current Atascosa, Karnes, Guadalupe, Travis and Bastrop counties on which he developed productive ranch enterprises while he practiced law, was a merchant and served the people of the State at all levels of government. He was often referred to by the title of Colonel although he never served in the military because of a leg injury when he was young. The Navarro family home ranch in 1838 was north of current Seguin (then Walnut Springs) on San Geronimo Creek near Ewing Springs.
José Navarro was active in the movement to annex additional Mexican territory to the Republic of Texas. In response to President Lamar's appeal, he accompanied the Santa Fé Expedition under General Hugh McLeod in 1841 as a commissioner because of his knowledge of Mexican law, fluency in Spanish and persuasiveness as an orator. His role was to persuade the residents of Santa Fé and New Mexico to secede from Mexico and join the democratic Texas Republic. He was captured, imprisoned in Acordada prison for two years and then in the infamous dungeon of San Juan Ulloa. He was singled out as a native Tejano and summarily sentenced to death as a traitor to his native land. An interview in the Lamar Papers with Laredo alcalde Soto suggests that Santa Anna was particularly vindictive toward Navarro because of an incident he learned of since both Soto's father and Santa Anna were 3rd Lieutenants under Arredondo in San Antonio in 1813. Santa Anna wanted to marry Navarro's sister, but the family barred it because of Santa Anna's generally bad character and his forgery in which he "robed Arredondo's military chest." Santa Anna offered him the chance to recant and an office in the government if he would pledge his allegiance in writing to the Mexican state and denounce the Republic of Texas. He replied, even over the advice of his family, with "I have sworn to be a Texan. I shall not forswear." His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. With the aid of local Vera Cruz army officers after Santa Anna had been deposed from office, he escaped in 1845 to Havana, Cuba, then New Orleans and then returned to Galveston. Navarro possessed considerable fiscal assets and used them generously to aid his fellows and Texans. Col. William G. Cooke who was also appointed a commissioner and was among the Santa Fé expedition prisoners who were forced to march to prison in Mexico remarked "had it not been for the generosity of Mr. Navarro many more of the Texan prisoners would have perished than did." After his release in April 1842, Col. Cooke returned to San Antonio and married José Navarro's niece, Angela Navarro, daughter of Don Luciano Navarro.
For annexation, Navarro was the only native Hispanic Texian delegate to the Texas Statehood Convention of 1845, which decided for annexation with the United States. Navarro generally disagreed with the policies and viewpoints of Sam Houston while largely a supporter of Mirabeau Lamar. He was influential in staving off factions who attempted to limit suffrage in the new Republic to the "free white population." He contended that the words "white" in any legislation were "odious" and "ridiculous." Navarro is credited with the statute in the state constitution that "no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in the house, or within the enclosure of any individual, without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner prescribed by law." No doubt this was prompted by his long experience and witness of the vandalism and depredations of undisciplined military and para-military under Spain, Mexico and the Republic of Texas. In June 1842, a petition from San Antonians to the President of the Republic appealing for protection against deserters from American volunteer forces from the Nueces River mentioned:
José Navarro served three terms in the first Texas State Senate. He encouraged secession of Texas in 1861 and all four of his sons represented Texas in the army of the Confederate States of America, two achieving the rank of Captain. In 1853, he wrote a series of articles for the San Antonio Ledger about the events of 1813 and 1814 surrounding the bloody insurgent and counter-insurgent movements against the royal Spanish government in San Antonio that he observed as a boy which were subsequently published as a book In Defense of Mexican Valor.
Don José Antonio Navarro married Margarita de la Garza of Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico, in 1825 and they had children mentioned in his will of 15 February 1871: José Antonio George, Ángel, Sixto Eusebio (m. Genoveva Cortinas of Nacogdoches), Celso Cornelio (m. Agapita Garcia), and Josefa (m. Daniel Tobin). Some records include Arturo, Carmen, and María Gertrudis. The Handbook of Texas says that he had a son Ángel Navarro III (m. Concepcion Ramon Callaghan) who was a Harvard law school student and was a Bexar County representative in the Texas legislature for three terms. José Antonio Navarro died on 13 January 1871. Some records claim he died at his home ranch near Seguin in Guadalupe County however according to Guadalupe County Courthouse records, (Deed Book E page 137), Navarro sold the remaining 6509 acres on the original DeWitt Colony M. Chirino grant to Alexander Ewing (Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama) in 1853 and moved to AtascosaCo. Others claim he died in his San Antonio home as described by Feliciano Flores:
Navarro is buried beside his wife in San Fernando Cemetery in San Antonio. The Navarro home at the corner of South Laredo and Nueva streets in downtown San Antonio is a State Historical Park. Navarro County was named in honor of this unwavering Hispanic Texan who can be claimed by the DeWitt Colony as one of its own and one of its greatest. The Navarro county seat, Corsicana, was named in honor of Navarro's Corsican-born father.
27 Feb 1827 Austin to Navarro from San Felipe de Austin [Translation from the Spanish]
San Felipe de Austin 27 of Feby 1827 Sr. JOSE ANTONIO NAVARRO ESTEEMED FRIEND: I received of Corporal Sosa the One hundred and thirty dollars that you sent to me and the letter with a note to buy for you tres arrobas [75 lbs] of coffee and powder. According to what you write I ordered coffee from Orleans in conformity with the note you sent to me, and I am expecting the return of the Schooner every day, it should have arrived before this, and it is probable it will be here soon. With this intelligence I have bought the three arrobas of Coffee which I send by Corporal Sosa the price was 30 cents per pound whjch makes $22.51 for the 75 lbs. It was not possible to secure it for less and I have taken all there is for sale here. The rest of the money that I have 97 Dollars and 50 cents I have kept in order to pay for the merchandise from Orleans and I will pay what is lacking or short. I shall advise you as soon as I receive notice of the arrival of the freight. I have advised Mr. Jones that you would not admit the contract for the corn, I think be will take 20 reales per fanega [3 bushels.] If a good assortment of clothing arrives I shall advise you and you can command me frankly and with liberty as a sincere friend in anything that is of use, and I shall at all times take great pleasure in executing your orders, if you stand on ceremony I shall be very sorry. At present there is absolutely no merchandise for sale here but we are expecting some in a few days. Your friend STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
17 May 1828 Navarro to Austin from Saltillo. Describing the contest in the legislature of Coahuila y Tejas over the passage of a law suspending the governor's council. Passage of the law recognizing labor contracts.
27 Nov 1828 Navarro to Austin from Bexar. Asks Austin to obtain goods for him.
8 Jan 1829 Navarro to Austin from Bexar. Much depressed by political situation. Personally attached to Guerrero and Zavala, but regrets disregard of constitution through which they have succeeded. Asks Austin to buy corn for him in the colonies.
18 Feb 1829. Navarro to Austin from Bexar. Sending Austin $120 with which to buy goods for him either in New Orleans or in the colony.
2 April 1829. Navarro to Austin. Commercial commissions and arrangements.
23 Jul 1829. Austin to Navarro. Sending him a copy of his map. Depressed by the slow development of Texas. Thinks there is danger of its reversion to barbarism, since the Indians being removed by the United States from east of the Mississippi River may overrun it. Thinks the article of the State constitution prohibiting slavery ought to be suspended for 10 years to promote the settlement of the Province. Perhaps the simplest way of doing this would be to repeal Decree No. 18 which puts that article of the constitution into effect.
From Papers of Mirabeau Lamar No. 82. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN TO JOSÉ ANTONIO NAVARRO 19 Oct 1829 [Translations from the Spanish by W.W. Rohrman]
Villa of Austin October 19, 1829. MY VERY ESTEEMED FRIEND, between work and misfortune that came upon me I have been filled with sadness, the passage in one of your letters saying that I have failed to answer and write as often as I should have done. I will state that the good opinion you have of me is appreciated for the reason that I believe you know me well and your judgment has more influence over me than whimsical or accidental and trifling circumstances could have. I have just returned from the brink of the grave, it was a terrible blow the death of my only brother who was my companion in so many works and privation; that we have passed through together in these sparsely settled lands with the only hope of seeing this country flower. I am stimulated to sustain the life I have passed but my Brother could not stay to enjoy this pleasure,he was like myself, in enthusiast in favor of Texas and he began to have some plans in order to work. He is now at rest far away from tribulations and problems of human life---probably this is for the best---I beg your pardon for troubling you with my private grief---we will pass to something else---I have examined all of your letters and find one that does not . . . [mutilated] last one that came in time of my sickness and which Samuel answered. It might be that many letters were lost and if you wrote to me about something of interest repeat to me what it was.
Prior to my illness I had formed an idea of some plans that I considered of interest for the advancement of Texas and I thought of troubling you for your opinion and advice as a true friend and Texan. My plans had for their object the general welfare of the people and not for my own particular advantage and if I have time and my other duties will permit I am going to put my ideas in some form and shall send them to you I have dedicated myself now in union with Dn. Samuel to the tedious work of making true and correct translations of the conditions of the State and Nation and of all the decisions of the Legislature for the purpose of printing them all in pamphlets and part in the Gazette This may appear to be a work of small importance but it is not The work is very essential and there is nothing more necessary and important for the welfare of Texas for the reason that most of the inhabitants do not understand a word of Spanish and it is entirely impossible to govern a people with laws whose existence the masses absolutely ignore All the troubles in Nacogdoches have come entirely from the lack of troops and persons with knowledge of the laws and Chiefs to enforce them The local council in particular and the people of the frontier necessarily get entangled with different languages and customs I have not found a person of judgment who is well informed about the National and State Constitution and of the law, but what expresses himself as entirely satisfied with thein and this is enough to prove the importance of the translation The thing of the most importance to the people of Texas today is to regulate the business in regard to the land You and all your family should take advantage of the occasion to get lands and if you or any of your family wish some land in this part of the country I offer my services to select it and pay the expenses of measuring it and secure the titles for a portion of the land and I can also assist you to get families to cultivate it according to law The best way to get lands is from the government because the lands thus secured are guaranteed and you can sell them before having to cultivate them all a requirement that the law places on the colonies In regard to yours I would select the land in the best places.and pay all the costs but not for the land itself this you will have to pay to the government That is to say for one half of the land I would pay the surveyor the commission and for the deed and see that the land has not been occupied by others without license and that the timber has not been destroyed and that it was cultivated according to law That is to say you secure eleven sitios [48708 acres] and in this way one half will be yours and one half mine Present my regards to our friends and to all of your family and command your friend S. F. Austin [Rubric]
29 Oct 1829 Navarro to Austin, Bexar. Offer to share 11 leagues of land if Austin will pay the treasury fees for all. Opposition to Guerrero's decree of abolishing slavery. Strong representations made to the governor against it, and the political chief has suspended publication in Texas.
Lamar Papers No. 83. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN TO JOSÉ ANTONIO NAVARRO 24 Dec 1829 [Translation from the Spanish]
MY ESTEEMED FRIEND I received your letter of the 29th of
last month and I give you my sincere thanks for the kind reflections that you make
relative to the loss by early death of my brother The mail arrived very late
and is now leaving and I have not time to write much In regard to the
employment that the Government has given to you as manager of Galveston I believe like you
that for some time it will not produce sufficient to live upon whether or not it will be
productive in the future depends entirely on the safety of Texas and it appears that it is
doubtful on account of the last decrees sent out bv the legislature
I will not speak of the last letters since I have not time to answer them by this mail I trust with all confidence in the wisdom and firmness of the authorities of that place the statement of our---the statement of our worthy chief of the departnient is very good and will not fail to have much influence. I shall write to you about the proposition of the lands and shall only say that now if I can . . . [mutilated] to secure the money I will send the proposition In regard to the decrees I will only say that in one or two months at least I will send out notices through the Gazettes of Orleans for from there they will receive notices every day from Vera Cruz, Tampico or Matamoras. I doubt much that there are any in Nacogdoches. I will see and speak of this matter with pleasure. Give my respects to your brothers and to Mr. Ruiz and to your mother and....[mutilated] Your friend S F Austin [Rubric] P. S. I forgot to say that you can come with the mules and horses. I think you can sell the first for money although this is an article which is very scarce and there is not certain market for anything in money. S. F. A. [Addressed:] Sor Dn Jose Antio. Navaro, Bejar
18 Feb 1830 Navarro to Austin, Bexar. Asks Austin to send tobacco seed. Conditions on which he will sell 7 leagues of land to Richard Royall.
Lamar Papers No. 93. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN TO JOSÉ ANTONIO NAVARRO 23 Mar 1830 [Translation from the Spanish]
MY VERY DEAR FRIEND, Before returning to the country home where I have passed most of the time in the past two months, and received your esteemed letter. I have asked every one for the tobacco seed that you ordered,---but I am very sorry I have been unable to find it, but will continue to look for it and shall send it to you by first opportunity.
Mr. Royall left here six weeks ago for that place and I suppose that you have seen him. I cannot write to you a long letter now on account of the mail leaving, very soon, and for having my head a little out of order, with pain. I have not had good health since last year. I send my friends my most expressive thanks for the manifestation of friendship given to me and I hope that I shall live in order to give some proof of my gratitude towards all the inhabitants of Bexar. Here everything is peace and tranquility It appears by the order of his excellency the Vice President that the integrity of this part of the republic is in danger. I do not know what part or power they fear will be attacked---but let it be what it may I am sure that the Texans will defend the land and rights of Texans against every enemy as much as they possible can.
I suspect that the emigrants will favor an attack from the north, (supposing that they wanted to do such a thing, that in my opinion is impossible) is to make us much stronger--- In Mexico . . . [mutilated] and it is possible that the Senate or probably the Legislature will dictate means ruinous to Texas---My hope is in the State Government. Good bye my friend S. F. Austin March 23rd 1830 [Addressed:] D. Jose Ato. Navarro Bexar
Lamar Papers No. 97. STEPHEN F. AUSTIN TO JOSÉ ANTONIO NAVARRO 31 May 1830 [Translation from the Spanish]
Bexar May 31 1830 J. A. NAVARRO Recd June 24 MY DEAR FRIEND: I salute you in this your native city and am sorry that I have not been able to do so in words, in place of paper and ink. You will know by the handwriting upon which is written the letter of Mr. Milam that I am informed of its contents. I do not doubt but what the commission is going to be of much advantage to you. the principal thing that it offers at present is the naming of a Surveyor. If the young man Jose Ma. Carbajal understood a little more in this science it would be well for you to name him, and I think that it would not be improper to name him, because he can do the work by subaltern practices and he would in a short time learn the theory and practice of measurements he is young with very notable advancements in the sciences and has a very good English education. Also I think he can be very useful to you in many ways. I have offered to take him to my house and instruct him in the measurement of lands. It is of great import that you lose no time in this matter. Name a surveyor not later than the month of January. wishing you well S. F. Austin
I think it would be better that you send a dispatch to Milam for a surveyor and you can name Jose Ma. Carbajal when he is sufficiently advanced in that science. It is of much importance that no time be lost in completing the measurements---it should not be forgotten that I have always been a friend of Texas. He leaves in January, and God only knows who will be his successor or what fate Texas will have next year. Adieu [S. F. Austin] [Addressed:] C. J. A. Navarro Bexar
13 Jul 1830 Austin to Navarro, San Felipe de Austin. Affairs concerning Milam's colony, surveying, titles. Carbajal is lagging behind.
21 Mar 1832 Bexar Austin to Samuel Williams. .....Navarro has mil congojas about the ladn sold to Royall---he first petitioned to take it in my colony, then wrote to the govr for authority to take it in DeWitts, and that the Alcalde should be authorized to give the possession. He now says that he cannot request the Govr to appoint a new Comr to put him in possession on the west of the colorado, for it will make him appear ridiculous in the eyes of the govt. to be changing about so often. My advise to Royall and Caldwell is to take it in Dewitts Colony and finish the thing at once---or if any place can be found in my colony that will not interfere, let him take it there, and finish the matter at once. They must recollect that this purchase is in the eyes of the law totally void and of no effect untill they are in a situation to hold land by purchase legally in their own names, and untill the possession is legally given, and a transfer from Navarro---and for this reason they run the risk of loosing all by delay and by being too particular---the best plan is to take it in De Witts Colony as was at first intended. There is a project before the legislature, as I am told, to reform the colonization law, so that no time is to be lost in closing the titles as soon as possible.....
--------------José Antonio Navarro------------
I was born in the City of San Antonio de Bexar, on the 27th. February 1795, my father was Ángel Navarro a native of the Island of Corsica; my father arrived [in the Kingdom] of New Spain [in] the service of the King been an Officer, and having resined his [commission, he s]ettled in Bexar and maried [Miss Mary Joseph] Ruiz, afterwards my mother, which lad[y descended] from a Spanish family of the City of Saltillo. [I ca]n not say that my father descended from any of the first European families, but I can assure that his virtues and honest life sufficiently indicate th[a]t he appertained to those [of so]me distinction in Corsica. My father acquired by means of Commerce in Bexar a sufficient fortune to maintain us with dicen[ey?] and to obtain for his children a rank and e[ducation], which in those days of obscurity and obstacles to [the?] American Civilization, which the Government of Spain never lost sight of, may have been called superior.
Of the marriage of my father resulted six Children, who survived him---My father left Bexar and this world on the last day of October. 1808. In consequence of the death of my father, we were left orphans and at the side of our widowed mother we six stood. The oldest was my Brother José Angel, followed by María Josefa, José Antonio (the writer of this) María Antonia, José Luciana and the last and the youngest of all José Eugenio. Under the inexperient tutilage of my oldest brother José Ángel we could make but little progress in promoting our interest and much less could we apply ou[rselves] to a more perfect education, them we could if o[ur] f[ather had] lived. The whole family rem[ained] in moderate circumstances when [during the] period of the beginning of the p[rincipal re]volu[t]ion of Mexico, commenced. From this [time] up to 1813 when Bernardo Guttierrz invaded the Province of Texas with the American Volunteers, and the Inhabitants of Nacogd[oches], defending the Independe[nce] of Mexico, my whole family and property suffered considerable losses and damages.
In the year of 1813 my Uncle Lieutenant Col: Francisco Ruiz took a very active part with the Insurgents, in the Army of Bexar under the Comn[d.] of Guttierez, and afterwards under that of José Alvarez Toledo[a?] Young & brave General & as well inform[ed] as he was unfortunate in [the?] first battle which he fought, on the Medina against the Spanish General Joaquin de Arredondo, on the 18th. August 1813.
Imagine now to yourselves the position of my whole family, with the loss of the cause of liberty by the battle of Medina. My Venerable Uncle Francisco Ruiz and my Brother-in-law Juan Martin de Veramendi leaving Bexar fugitives from their families, as Insurgents, whom Arredondo desired to have shot as the principal ring leaders of the revolutionists of Bexar. My aforesaid oldest Brother [José] Angel, who was at that tim[e a] Lieutenant of Infantry [in] the Army under Arredondo's Command was depri[ved] of his office with disdain, and he was dismissed [from the?] Royal Service, without pay, and without any kind of di[sc]harge as it was then customary and according t[o t]he Regulations for the Government of the Armies of the King of Spain; and why? Because ever since the Year of 1813, and particularly since the unfortunate Battle of the Medina, my [Un]ckle Francisco Ruiz, my Brother-in-Law Veramendi, my aforesaid Brother Angel, and even ourselves the minors of the family have fallen into a horrid persecution on the part of all the Spanish officers devoted to the cause of their King. The names of Ruiz, Veramendi and Navarro was the mark of ignominy, the alarm of treason, and of all evil t[hat] could be invoked against the holy Cause and the Rights of the King of Spain.---In Augt. 1813, At 18 Years of age I fled to the United States at the time as it is already Stated the Battle of Medina was lost, and with it the last hope of the Mexican Patriots, and the Internal Provinces of Mexico.
My Mother, then alone, with the minor Children left Bexar, my oldest Brother Angel, absent from Bexar fleeing in the interior of Mexico from the persecutions of Arredondo, my Uncle Ruiz, my Brother-in-Law, the husband of my sister Maria Josefa Veramendi, and myself, may be said wandering, in the State of Louisiana;---behold here a family scattered and persecute[d by?] so many disasters---For this reason my younger [brothers? I and myself have lost the Years of the flower of our youth, waisting years without impr[oving our]selves, but in participating in the affliction [of our forefathers.]
I, who have had some ideas about the fatal Year of 1813 could scarcely preserve some impe[rfect?] Knowledge of the little I have formerly acquired by Studying. The King of Spain has already as early as the year of 1815 issued a Proclamation granting Pardon to all the Insurgents of Texas. Among others my Brother-in-Law, Veramendi and myself have returned to Bexar pardoned by the King of Sp[ain] or by Arredondo [in] his Royal name.
Veramendi had the pleasure to retur[n to] my Sister, his wife and family; but like Adam [and] the paradise, found his property amounting to upwards of Thirty Thousand Dollars all confiscated, and destroyed by the Kings Officers. In such circumstances all his happiness consisted in returning to Texas his native land and obtaining a royal pardon without restitution of his property.
Dear Sir--- Bexar 29th Jany---1840
I address you these [f]ew lines as one of our citizens & much interested in the protection of this frontier, and also that as a public representative & informed of the action of the Government you may possibly make such use of the information as will relieve or aid us in our present abandoned situation About two hours since I saw two letters written from the Rio Grande, and although I know that the writers are men of no political consequence, still they contain the intelligence of the intended & immediate approach of the Mexican troops upon Texas
In my opinion a large chain of circumstances and a combination of late events in Mexico, render it impossible that the troops are coming, as soon as those letters indicate, for the purpose of a regular invasion for a considerable number of Federalists forces are yet scattered about throughout the States of Tamaulipas New Leon & Coahuila. But I do not in the least doubt that the triumph obtained by the Centralists over Vidauri near the Rio Grande, and the retreat of Canales from Monterrey where he was defeated by the Government troops under General Arista, have inspired the Centralists with the bold idea, of invading Texas, or at all events of coming as far as this City, where they think they can triumph with ease and reap heavy booty
General Arista has about 1500 men this side of Monterrey----Canalizo has 1000 in Metamoros and at the intermediate points there are about 2000 men. You will see that these forces are insignificant for an invasion---but sufficient for a sudden blow---a blow perfectly in accordance with the character of such Generals as Arista & Canalizo who act without system, or foresight & regardless of consequences---But the blow o[n]ce struck & we, broke up & perhaps slaughtered, will take but little pleasure in the revenue that may follow---I trust that the Government will take immediate steps to relieve us from our threatened & dangerous position Signed by----José A Navarro
[paraphrase from fragments]....more than 25 prisoners were suffocated in close quarters in the month of August with over 400 placed in very small dimensions....dozens put to death each day....there a was a tyrant named Corporal Ribal of the Vera Cruz regiment who by force of the lash terrorized the whole city...
....that could be found in the days of Marat & Robispiere, he governed with absolutism over the prisoners, and when the suns rays were hidden and the dark night closed round, many officers & Soldiers met with their friend the guardian, to be treated each one of them, to the victim (woman) that he might think proper to assign them for that night upon which, each one of those monsters would saciate his lasciviousness, and then turn her over to the Guardian Acosta, to continue the day following in the work of the tortillas for the soldiers. It is due to justice however to say that there were among these prisoners many Heroines who struggled arm to arm against addressing & resisted the delivery of their persons to the commands of that infamous Jailor; this class of Heroines never would consent to stain their honor, but they had to suffer the torment of cruel & daily lashes, there are yet surviving in Bexar some of these matrons Idolaters of their own chastity; I know two of them, one of whom for having opposed herself to the iniquitous treatment of the Said Acosta, he bound and hung up a public spectacle in the same Quinta, more than of one hour stripping her even of her under clothes and leaving her nakedness an object of public gaze, Arredondo knew all that passed, and when in his court of officers any of these cruel anecdotes would be cited, a pleasant smile would close the scene.
During three months tyranies, verry few families escaped. The family of Lieut. Col. Ruis, Navarros, Veramenda &c were on this occasion were respected although their husbands relations were insurgents, and why the caligula Arredonda hid from these his sanguinary hand is unknown, perhaps that, more fear than respect, which malice feels, when it sees front to front innocency & virtue, may have contained him with regard to those, who upon no title or motive, had he any right to maltreat,
Arredondo, after some months left this place, leaving it garrisoned by the Estremadura Regiment of Spanish Rangers, a sepulcral silence reigned from that time, the patriotic flame became almost extinct, the patriots emigrated to the U S. that land of liberty, where they fixed their residence, & where most of them still reside, Col Francis Ruiz, who never would succumb to the calls & prayers of the Spanish Government, did not return to his country until the happy year of 1821 when the Emperor Yturbide called, & crowned him with honors & friendship, He continued again in the service of the Mexican Independent Army, but dissatisfied always, of the vicissitudes of his country and the bad Government of Mexico, for which he had sacrificed, among the barbarous Indians, the florid Years of his youth, he threw off the glove & declared & subscribed to the liberty of Texas on the 2nd. day of March 1836.
Who could say that the day would come when this pure patriot should seal the liberty of his own native country, and point out to his brother Mexicans the sure and permanent way to the same? Such has been the case, and after his noble decisions and sentiments he drew all, his family, one of which was his nephew Jose Antonio Navarro, native of Bexar, and appointed by her citizens to the genl. convention of Texas, speaking of this person excites a curiosity to relate a singular coincidence of events Dn. Antonio Navarro was appointed, in the City of Montclova, on 2nd. day of March 1835 as Senator for the State of Coahuila to the Genl. Congress of Mexico, and although he was called to his seat he evaded by honest pretexts, and on the 2nd. of March 1836 he was found subscribing to the declaration of the Independence of Texas, his honorable appointment in Mexico would have been worth to him at least nine thousand dollars in Texas it cost him sufferings, the loss of some property, and afflictions of his family, but the impulse of liberty conquered them all, Bexar 18 of May 1841 J.A.N.
President Mirabeau B. Lamar Bexar May 18, 1841 Respected Sir: As your Excellency did me the honor to visit me, and as it was also my honor to converse with him through an interpreter and in my very poor English, I have, as a consequence of those conversations, the pleasure of enclosing with this a collection of autograph letters which, as interesting documents, I still preserve from the large epistolary correspondence which I had with my good friend, Stephen F. Austin, during his inestimable life. These letters contain little relative to the history which your Excellency proposes to write; but because it seems to me (as to many who knew him both intimately and slightly, and perceived the generous soul and noble and profound sentiments of that Texan Patriarch) that every word or every scratch of that comely and truthful pen was an emanation of pure and righteous intentions and never-extinguishable and personified desire for peace, liberty and prosperity for all men, especially for his beloved Texas, his adopted country, I have thought that you Excellency would vouchsafe and desire to read and examine the collection referred to, and I do not doubt that your perspicacity will discover some or the author's characteristic words which can serve as aids to the remainder of the historical documents. But most of all, I wish to confirm your opinion, that Stephen F. Austin was and will be, the most illustrious Anglo-American who will fructify our native soil with his remains, and (finally,) I wish to increase the merited praises of that eminent man. And after you have read said please do me the favor to return them, for they are, as I have said, documents of great interest to me which recall one of my most pleasant friendships, and I desire, by their conservation, to augment the remainder of my life, and after my days, I wish my children to know that I was a friend of him who was the friend of liberty and of all mankind. I remain your Excellency's very obedient servant, Jose Antonio Navarro. [rubric]
From Now You Hear My Horn, the diary of James W. Nichols. In the spring of this year and while I was in the servis under Hays, old Antonio Navaro opened up a large farm and stock ranch som eight miles north of Seguin at som large spring on the San Jaronamo and on a league of land owned by him. At the time I speak of he had near two hundred acres in a farm and kept from 12 to 15 peone or slave families on his ranch besides from 20 to 30 single men, all Mexicans. He had near three thousand head of cattle and five or six hundred head of horses. Such a place naturely drew a motly croud and small squads of Mexicans of doubtful carecture was constantly going and comeing but while the old man Navaro kept controll of the ranch every thing went on like clock work, straight and honest, for if thare was an honest Mexican he was one. One incident will proove that assersion. He went [on] the Santefe expedition. They ware all taken prisners and marched to Mexico and while thare confined in a close prison, the Mexicans discovered that he was a Mexican and the authorities offered him his liberty if he would cut the Lone Star buttons off his coat. He said he would die in prison before he would disgrace the caus of Texas.
After Navaro had gotten everything about his ranch in good working order, the Santa Fé Expedition was mad up and he joined it with the above result. He left the controll of the ranch with his son young Antonio Navaro, a plasure loveing young man who had a fandango nearly every night at the ranch. Thare was one Chri[s]tova Aroulga whoes wife was imployed as head cook but her husband was not imployed at the ranch but had four of five men in his imploy and going here and thare claiming to be tradeing but mad the ranch his head quarters. He always carried a bow and quiver fall of arrows besides his escopet. He would, as we found out afterwords, go to San Antonio, shoot an arrow into a cow to make Indian sign, steal six or eight head of good horses, take them east to the Colorado or Brazos Rivers and sell or swap them for good American horses, take them back to San Antonio and sell them for money, start out a gain and repeat the same thing. He had been suspected and watched but had not been caught. They mad a raid or two on Seguin. In that way they could make first rate Indian sign but never takeing more horses than they could ride off so they could scater one in a place.
One light moon they swooped down on us and stole six or eight horses and amongst the rest Captain Callahans fine saddle horse, of corse, that riled the Caps feeling. Next morning Callahan, Milford Day and myself walked round looking for sign. Callahan says, "Boys, I believe them horses has gone to the ranch. Now either of you can trail a single horse over worse ground than this and I want you to see if I am not right." So Milford and I started on a horse track a piece. We trailed them about five miles and we was not over two hundred yards apart at any time. We found whare they had all come together and makeing directly for the ranch. We turned back, raised a croud, Callahan, Milford Day, John Nichols, Jim Roberts, Hardin Turner, Cal Turner, Joe Williams, John and Asa Sowell, Andrew Sowell, myself and Lee. We struck the trail whare we had left it and followed on to the ranch. We mad no inquiries at the ranch for fear of raising suspicion but passed on up the creek and struck the trail above the ranch and followed on up the creek and on to Yorks Creek Ridge. We saw that they ware makeing directly for what we then called the big thicket. We followed the trail to the edg of this thicket. We found a newly cut trail into the thicket. Callahan took the lead, the rest of us close on his heels. Near the middle of this thicket headed a deep ravine in a small prairie containing good grass.
We had traveled this trail near two miles when we came in sight of this prairie containing twelve or fifteen acres. We mooved on causiously and soon discovered a bunch of horses close hobbled and down the gulley at the edg of the brush we discovered a smoke riseing. We knew that was their camp. We alited, tied our horses, crawled up with in thirty steps of the fire before we could git a fair view of them. Thare ware five or six men sitting round the fire eateing supper. The sun was just setting. We each picked out his men and Callahan was to give the word. Says he, "Take good aim, boys. Fire!" All fired about the same instant and fiv[e] Mexicans fell dead. Two or three jumped to their feete and ran off. One of the men that ran of was Arouba, unhurt. The other two, one we never knew who he was or whare he went. The other was a little Mexican we all knew well. His name was Sancho Cabines. We walked by the fire and took a look at the dead but did not tarry long as it was giting dark. We rounded up the horses, 12 or 15 in nomber includeing them stolen from Seguin the night before, and set out for home. That broak up the band. About ten da[ys] after this, myself, Milford Day, John Nichols and Jim Roberts was all on a camp hunt in the vecinity of this camp and concluded to go by the camp and see what had become of the dead boddies and effects and down to the spring to git water for ourselves and horses.
We had frequently heard that neither wolves nor buzzards would eat a dead Mexican and we wanted to see if this was so. We struck the trail entering the thicket, went on to the camp and found every thing just as we had left them ten days before, tin cups, coffee pots, saddles, bridles, blankets, dead Mexicans and all as we had left them. After looking until satisfide we turned to go to the spring som three hundred yards down the hollow. When near the spring we heard a voice call to us to come thare. We halted, looking round in the brush, we saw Sancho, the little Mexican that had ran of but had been wounded. We crauled through the brush to him and thare I beheld the aufulest sight that my eys ever beheld before or since. He had been shot in the bowels and in the neck. He was litterly a pile of worms. It was warm weather and I am satisfide thare was a bushel of worms in, on and around him and him still alive and able to hollow to us. He comence to beg and implore us to kill him out of his misery, knowing that he could never recover as the maggots ware working all through his intrils. Two of the boys whoes names I withhold says, "Lets end his suffering but let him die with a full belly." We gave him as mutch meat and bread as he would eat which he devoured equel to a bitch wolf suckling eleven pups. We then gave him as much water as he would drink. He then renewed his petitions to be dispached and said. "Shoot me in the head while I hold by hands over my eyes." He put his hands up over his eyes and bowed his head to his knees and heard the report of two guns and was no more. That prairie is called Rogues Prairie and the gully is called Rogues Hollow to this day. "Old Araubea" was after wards captured by Lee with som stolen horses near San Antonio and while on his way to Seguin with his prisner halted at the Sebola to take refreshment, he saw a band of Mexicans swooping down on him to rescue the prisner. Lee took in the situation at a glance, shot his prisner, mounted his horse and mad his escape.
The remainder of this year  the war seemed to be at an end. The marauding bands of Indians had sceased their opperations and the Mexicans had mad no attempt to regain Texas. Everything like ware seemed to be lulled into a perfound and peaceful slumber and Soft Peace had perched upon the standered of our passed success and was huming a lullaby to suthe and soften the cares of our sleepeing wariors who knew nothing of the dark red cloud of war which was fast geathering and rolled up by the dusky sons of Mexico and which was soon to burst upon the devoted heads of the drowsy sleepers and cause Soft Peace to spread her wings and fly weepeing away.
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS