Surviving Couriers & Foragers
The following are DeWitt Colony residents who were in the Alamo garrison at one time during the siege, but survived because of their absence during the final assault as couriers or other emissaries.
James L. Allen (1815-1901) was born in KY and in his later years a resident of current DeWittCo, TX. He was the oldest of seven children of Samuel and Mary Lamme Allen. He was a student at Marion College when he joined other students who came to Texas seeking adventure and opportunity. Allen joined the Texas army upon arrival and found himself a rifleman and courier in the Alamo garrison. Allen family legends tell of Col. Travis' call for a volunteers on 5 Mar 1836 to break through Mexican army lines to appeal for aid. Because he had a fleet horse and was willing, he was the last courier to be sent by Travis with a final appeal to Fannin at Goliad. He reached Goliad on 8 Mar and with negative results went on to Gonzales on 11 Mar where he learned of the fall of the Alamo. Allen later served as a scout with Deaf Smith at San Jacinto and was Captain of the Texas (Buckeye) Rangers. He was a ranger in Capt. Bells Company and fought Indians at Corpus Christi in Jul 1844. He first settled in Indianola where he was mayor and justice of the peace. He married Frederica M. Manchan and had seven children. He was captured and imprisoned on Saluria Island during the Civil War while serving as tax assessor in CalhounCo, TX. Refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the Union forces, he escaped by swimming to the mainland at Port Lavaca. In 1867 Allen settled between Hochheim and Concrete on a farm of 260 acres near the head waters of Cuero Creek. He owned a stage line which ran from Indianola through DeWitt County. A Baptist and a Mason, he died near Yoakum on 5 Apr 1901 and is buried in the Allen family cemetery near Hochheim.
Byrd Lockhart (1782-1839) (given name sometimes written as Bird), surveyor, scout and courier, was a resident of Gonzales and came to the DeWitt Colony from MO in 1826 with his mother, sister Margaret and two children. His parents were Bird and Sarah Lockhart Sr. of VA, OH, IL and MO. Land transfer documents indicate that the children of Bird and Sarah Lockhart Sr. were Byrd Jr (he signed his name with Jr. on survey documents), Andrew, Samuel, Charles, Drusilla, Margaret, Mary (Briggs), Nancy (McKinney) and Sarah (Sally Fulton). Andrew, Sam, Charles and Drusilla arrived later in TX in 1829-30. Brother Charles Lockhart surveyed and laid out the town of La Grange in FayetteCo under direction of Col. John H. Moore. The family is thought to have moved to MO in 1818 where Byrd Jr. and other members probably met empresario Green DeWitt. Both Byrd and brother Charles were surveyors in public service as early as 1814 in MadisonCo, IL. On 12 Dec 1826 he was deputy surveyor for DeWitts Colony. In Apr 1831, he was appointed surveyor for the DeWitt Colony by governor Jose Navarro. On 27 Jan 1827, Lockhart was chair of a meeting denouncing the Fredonian Movement which pledged support to the Mexican government. In 1827, he supervised the organization of block houses for protection against Indians in Gonzales. He surveyed and supervised building the road from Bexar to Austin and south through Gonzales to Matagorda in 1827. For payment he was compensated four leagues of land by the Mexican government. Byrd Lockhart Jr. married 9 Apr 1813 Mary Eliza Barton in RandolphCo, IL. Mary E. Barton is believed to be the sister of Catherine Wise Barton who married Charles Lockhart (Byrd Lockhart's brother) and of Kimber Barton who married Margaret Lockhart, a sister of both Byrd and Charles Lockhart.
Byrd Lockhart Jr. (listed as Byrd Sr. on the rolls) was a Private rifleman together with a Byrd Lockhart Jr. (probably his nephew) in Capt. Yorks Company at the Siege of Bexar. In a letter to Commander Austin on 2 Nov 1835, Capt. J.W. Fannin Jr. requested "....I have ordered everything packed up, and hold myself ready to march to you forthwith--Will you send us a pilot, that we may know the best approach etc.---I would prefer Capt. Lockhart....." Lockhart was appointed a commissioner by acting governor J.W. Robinson and charged to deal with Comanches threatening Bexar in Jan 1836.
He was appointed commissioner on 4 Feb 1836 by provisional government council in San Felipe, along with Mathew Caldwell and William A. Matthews, to recruit and muster the Gonzales Rangers which he accomplished by 23 Feb 1836, He arrived in the Alamo sometime before its fall, possibly with the Gonzales Rangers on 1 Mar 1836. He, forager Andrew Sowell and probably other couriers and foragers were obtaining cattle and supplies for the garrison as far away as Gonzales. Sowell family legends relate that they were delayed by reluctance of local residents to provide provisions for the Alamo and, therefore, were unable to return before the defeat. Lockhart served as a Capt. in the Texas Army after the fall of the Alamo. He is buried in the Bell Cemetery in BrazoriaCo, TX beside Capt. Henry Stevenson Brown. Lockhart, TX which is on one of his original land grants in Guadalupe County is named in his honor.
John William Smith (4 Mar 1792-12 Jan 1845), engineer, carpenter and merchant, was the storekeeper, scout, courier and guide for the Alamo garrison, was born in VA 4 Mar 1792, parents John and Isabel Smith. Named William John Smith at birth, he is said to have come with Green DeWitt to the colony in its early days before settling in San Antonio de Bexar where he was the first Anglo mayor. He moved to Texas from Hannibal, RallsCo, Missouri where he was sheriff and tax collector at one time, where he likely met DeWitt, Austin or both. He left a wife, Harriet Stone, and several children in Missouri. He was known locally as "El Colorado" or "Redhead". On 23 Feb, scouts Smith and Sutherland were sent from the garrison by Travis to track the position and strength of Santa Anna's forces and determined their location just two miles from the Alamo. Knowing the area well as a former resident, he accompanied the Gonzales relief force to the Alamo from Gonzales and guided them into the Alamo through Mexican lines after having been sent with Sutherland to Gonzales to appeal for aid. He was taken prisoner during the Siege of Bexar in Nov 1835, escaped and helped plan the assault by the Texans on Bexar. Family histories say he learned much of the status of the Mexican Army while imprisoned because of his fluency in Spanish which was unknown to his captors.
He was again sent from the Alamo on 3 Mar 1836 as a courier and was returning with 25 men from San Felipe when the Alamo fell on 6 Mar 1836. After Texas Independence Smith served as the first mayor of San Antonio and was re-elected twice. He served through Mar 1838 with all native Tejano aldermen who served under him were Manuel Martinez, Francisco Bustillo, Ramon Trevino, Pedro Flores Moreles, Gabriel Arriola, Rafael Herrera, Francisco Granado and Francisco A. Ruiz. He was succeeded by William H. Dangerfield and then Antonio Menchaca in whose terms there were only one Anglo alderman, W.E. Houth. John W. Smith served as alderman under mayor Samuel Maverick in 1839 and 1840. He became a bitter opponent and critic of Juan Seguin and succeeded the Juan Seguin administration again as mayor from 1842 to 1844. According to some, he conspired against Seguin to make life difficult in the Republic for him with implications he was a traitor which precipitated Seguin's move to Mexico. Smith served in the Texas Congress representing BexarCo until his death in 1845 where he died of pneumonia at Washington-on-the-Brazos. William John Smith changed his name to John William Smith because it was easier to pronounce in Spanish, he moved between both Anglo and Hispanic societies socially, in business and legal affairs.
In Bexar Smith married Canary Islander descendant, Maria de Jesus Curbelo (left) in 1831. Mrs. Smith (b. 1813) was daughter of Jose Antonio Saturnino and Josefa Delgado Curbelo. The isleño Curbelo family was granted land on Soledad St. as early as 1736 beginning with Juan Curbelo who was second regidor of San Fernando. His grandson Don Joseph Antonio Rafael Curbelo was Lt. Governor of the Spanish province of Texas in 1780, but killed by Lipans along with other San Fernando residents. His son Juan Jose Vicente Curbelo, Maria Smith's grandfather, was Indian agent of San Fernando and credited with establishing reasonably peaceful relations with the Indians in 1800. Maria Smith was the daughter of Jose Antonio Saturnino and Josefa Delgado Curbelo. John and Maria Smith had children Santiago Mateo, Josefa Augusta, Lucinda and Susan. She remarried James B. Lee after John Smith's death.
Andrew Jackson Sowell (1815-1883) was the son of John Newton and Rachel Carpenter Sowell who came to the DeWitt Colony from Tennessee via Missouri in 1829. The Sowells had a home in the inner town of Gonzales at the corner of St. George and Water St. Lots 1 and 6 of block 6 were owned by Andrew. John Newton Sowell is listed among the Original 18 Gonzales settlers that took part in the confrontation and Battle of Gonzales in which Andrew also participated. Andrew was present at the Battle of Conception and the Grass Fight. Along with David Boyd Kent and Ben Highsmith, Andrew Sowell was a member of the Alamo garrison and a courier and forager. He and Byrd Lockhart were foraging for beef as far as Gonzales when the Alamo was surrounded and due to delays were unable to return before the defeat. It is possible that both Andrew Sowell and Byrd Lockhart entered the Alamo on 1 Mar 1836 with the Gonzales Alamo Relief Force prior to their subsequent exit on the foraging mission. Andrew Sowell, David Boyd Kent, John Gaston and Galba Fuqua, the latter two of which died in the Alamo, were thought to have been close friends. Sowell family legends suggest that English-born Marcus Sewell was a cousin of John Newton Sowell Sr. who was a recent arrival to the colony just prior to joining the Alamo Relief Force. After the Alamo defeat, Sowell assisted his family in the Runaway Scrape, tried to return to San Jacinto, but missed the battle. After Texas independence, Sowell participated in the Comanche Council House Fight in San Antonio and the Battle of Plum Creek in 1840 and the Battle of Salado against Mexican Gen. Woll's forces in 1842. Andrew Sowell was a Texas Ranger and served under Hays, McCulloch, Mason, Caldwell and Callahan, he participated in the Mexican War and Civil War with the Confederacy. In 1842, Andrew married Lucinda Smith Turner and the couple had ten children, all born in Seguin, Texas. Both died in their home 12 miles east of Seguin in 1883 and are thought to be buried in Mofield Cemetery. State historical markers in honor of Andrew Sowell and brother John N. Sowell Jr. are in the San Geronimo Cemetery near Seguin.
Andrew J. Sowell, according to the "American Sketch Book" by Bella French Swisher "is perhaps the only man living to see a monument erected to his memory." Andrews nephew, A.J. Sowell, in his book "Rangers and Pioneers of Texas wrote that Andrew "... escaped the massacre at the Alamo yet he left such a short time before the fall his name was engraved on the monument erected to the memory ." of those who died. Born in Davidson County, Tennessee June 27, 1815, the son of John N. and Rachel Sowell, Andrew went to Texas with his parents in May, 1830, a young man of fifteen. Andrew loved the woods and was frequently absent from home " .hunting, fishing and exploring . . . he and his brother John kept the table supplied with honey, venison, turkey, bear and fish." Andrew was in his first Indian fight in 1832 at age seventeen, and early in October, 1835 he joined the volunteer army and helped defend Gonzales and the small cannon against the Mexicans. On October 28, 1835 he fought alongside Jim Bowie and Fannin in the battle of Concepcion and in November of that year was with Deaf Smith in the "Grass Fight." Shortly before the fall of the Alamo, Andrew and Byrd Lockhart were sent out by William Travis to hurry reinforcements and "secure beef for the garrison . . . but before they had time to procure the beef, the fort had been surrounded " Andrew was in Gonzales when the news of the approaching Mexican army was received. He was given leave from the army to accompany his parents and others to safety. He then rushed back to join Houston's army but arrived too late to participate in the Battle of San Jacinto, no doubt the only major battle in the Republic of Texas history that Andrew Sowell was not a part of. In March, 1840 in San Antonio Andrew fought the Comanches in the "Council House Fight" and in August of that year was at the "Battle of Plum Creek." Andrew was almost constantly on the scout. He was at the "Battle of Salado" in 1842 and went on to serve in the Ranger Service under Hays, McCulloch, Mason, Caldwell and Callahan. During the Civil War he joined the Confederate services. Andrew found time between scouting and ranger service to court the young daughter of William S. and Elizabeth Smith Turner and July 7, 1842 twenty-seven-year-old Andrew and fifteen-year-old Lucinda Smith Turner were married. In the years that followed the couple had ten children, all born in Seguin, Texas. [Children were Asa J.L., Elizabeth, Mary, Virginia Bell, Albert Marion, Martha, John and Lewis--WLM] Andrew and Lucinda both died at their home about twelve miles east of Seguin in January, 1883, he on January 4 and three days later on January 7 Lucinda followed her "old warrior" to the grave. It was said that they were buried in the Mofield Cemetery near Seguin; however, in 1957 the State of Texas erected markers in the San Geronimo Cemetery to pay tribute to John N. Sowell Jr. and his brother Andrew Jackson Sowell. Dorcas Baumgartner (From The History of Gonzales County, Texas. Reprinted by permission of the Gonzales County Historical Commission).
From Now You Hear My Horn, Diary of James Wilson Nichols. Now the life and doings of Andrew J. Sowell is already out and I shal not say mutch for or against him. One incident will sufise though he was my step brother, my father haveing married his mother in 1839. But to the incident. A croud of us was out on a camp hunt this same fall. We found several bee trees and filled all of our vessels and had som ten or fifteen gallons more than we had vessels to hold it, and it was sugested that we kill a deer and cure the hide to carry the honey home in. As Andrew and myself was concidered the most succesfull hunters we was to try our luck first, so we mounted our horses and set out on our mission and we hunted until late that evening when we ware rideing slowly and I was in front and discovered an old bucks head and homes over a log. I says, "Be still. Theres a deers head." It was about one hundred yards away, and I was about dismounting when Andrew says, "Let me shoot. Not that I think I am a better shot than you, but my gun is larger in the bore than yours and is more apt to kill if it hits." I says, "I believe I can hit his head from here." Andrew says, "No, dont risk it. I can git to yon tree and then I can hit his eye." The tree was over half way to the deer. I says, "Try it." Then he slid of his horse and commenced crawling. The deer had not discovered us. Andrew went half bent to the tree, and then peeped first on one side and then on the other, and then lay down flat on the ground and commenced slideing himself along until I became almost out of patiance, but after so long a time he arived at a saplin not over thirty steps from the deer, and he raised his gun by the side of the saplin and fired.
When the gun fired I, being on horseback, could see the deers head fall to the ground, but at the nois of the gun another buck with head and homes jumped to his feete and away he ran with his tail up. I taken Andrews horse by the bridle and led him up to whare Andrew was. He was cursing and beating his old gun with his fist and about the time I got to him he drew his hacknife and commenced to hack his gun stock to peaces. He beat his gun with his knuckles and hand until his hand was so swolen next day he could use them with great difficulty. I says, "Whats the matter. Are you crazy." He says, "No, but this old gun is. Why, if she had not mad long fire I could have hit that deers eye." I says, "May be you did." He says, "Hit. Hell. Dident you see him ran of untouched." I says, "Well you kilt one anyhow." He says, "Its you thats crazy. I seed the deer git [up] and run of." I says, "Well, you kilt one anyhow." He says, "I dide not."
I says, "You did." He says, "I dident for by the Lord, I had taken my gun down when she fired and I know I missed it ten feete." I says, "You kilt one anyhow." He says, "You are a fool. Dident I see the deer [git] up and run of." I saw his nose begin to swell and knew he was gitting mad. I says, "Andrew, you kilt a deer, and if you will go to the log you will see." He was so confident that thare was but one buck, and he saw him git up and run of, that he would not go only about thirty steps to see. By this time he had quit hacking his gun and commenced reloading, and wh[en] he finished and steped towards it his horse I says, "Lets g[o] skin the old buck." He says, "By the Lord, dont say bu [ck] to me again." I knew then he was gitting hot so I sayed no more, and he mounted his horse and galloped of in the direction the well deer had went. I stood gazeing after him until he was out of sight then led my horse to the log and examined the old buck. The ball had taken effect in his head and the brains was oozeing out at the bullet hole. The sun was now nearly down and I was near two miles from camp, so I lifted him into my saddle and mounted up behind and set out for camp. On ariveing I found that Andrew had not yet put in an apearence and I told the story to the other boys and they laughed harty. As soon as Andrew arived they commenced to tease him. They would go up to him and look at his swolen fist and say, "Long fire," then look at the hacks on his gun and say laughing, "Long fire," until he became fighting mad. Then they would hush awhile. After that if any of us said, "Long Fire," we had simpley to git out of Andrews way.