Mexican colonization policy charged the Empresario with military authority to lead and organize the local defense. In the early days of the DeWitt Colony, military leadership consisted of primarily a person with the title "Captain" earned by initiative and performance rather than official appointment. Minuteman groups were assembled on the spot from willing and able settlers in response to specific threats and the Captain elected by majority vote. In many cases, individuals earned the title Captain by recruiting their own company in response to specific actions by enemies or for longer term security purposes. With establishment of a provisional and then official government just before and after independence, mandates for organization of companies for regional defense were issued. Even then the "Captainship" was usually by election except where an identifiable Captain had raised the company from the beginning. Many early DeWitt Colonists distinguished themselves as minuteman leaders from the onset in resistance to both Indian attacks and in the move for Texas independence. Most returned to their homesteads, farms and ranches when the specific duty was accomplished. Despite the egalitarian atmosphere represented by the famous quote of Robert Coleman "We are all captains and have our views," the sustained records and leadership of a number of individuals whose service in some cases began when they arrived in the colony through the late 1800's emerged head and shoulders among the others as DeWitt Colony Militia Captains. The first official DeWitt Colony Ranger Company, the Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers and biographies of Captains/Lieutenants Almeron Dickinson, George Kimble, and Albert Martin, whose service was cut short by death in the Alamo, are covered in detail elsewhere.
Iin January 1837, the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed legislation which provided for a company of fifty-six Rangers for the frontier of Gonzales County. President Sam Houston appointed San Jacinto veteran Joel Walter Robison, who was involved in the capture of Santa Anna after the battle, as first lieutenant for a company of mounted riflemen for duty in Gonzales County and Nathan Mitchell as second lieutenant. An impact of these official appointments in the area are not evident from the records. Volunteers for Ranger duty were granted tax exemptions. Again official legislation on 3 Feb 1841 authorized the formation of volunteer minutemen for protection from Indian attacks. Each company consisted of no fewer than twenty nor more than fifty-six men who were to elect their own officers and be ready for instant activity. Minutemen were exempt from poll tax, taxes on a saddle horse and from the performance of road duty. As illustrated by the muster rolls available for different Captains below, the same individuals often served in different companies at different times.
Most captains and their companies used as a base of operations and focused on security of a particular region of the colony where they lived at the time in addition to joining forces with other regional companies in larger military actions where necessary. Therefore, the composition of the different companies was largely those individuals living in the specific sector. Capts. Bird and McCulloch focused on and recruited from the immediate vicinity around Gonzales town and covered security of current Gonzales County east into Fayette County; Capt. Caldwell, who used Gonzales town as a base, covered a broad area of the colony and beyond from San Antonio to the Rio Grande; Capt. Callahan operated and recruited from Seguin covering the northern sector of the colony from the western frontier across Guadalupe and Caldwell Counties; Capt. Tumlinson operated out of current Cuero covering the Guadalupe River area south of Gonzales and into Victoria County and Capt. Zumwalt focused on the Lavaca River area. Capt. Cameron operated outside the colony area in the Victoria-Goliad areas.
Captain James Bird was involved in security and command of minutemen companies in the immediate area around Gonzales town. He received a headright certificate 30 Jan 1838 for a league and labor of land from the Washington County Board which states he came to Texas in 1832. He received 320 acres of land for service (Certificate No. 1745) 21 Jan 1838 for October 6 to December 20, 1835 and Donation Certificate No. 477 for 640 acres of land 26 July 1838 for participation in the Storming and Capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835. Bird served with Captain William J. E. Heard's Company at San Jacinto. While living in GonzalesCo, he appointed Arthur Swift his agent to survey bounty land in DeWittCo on 19 April 1845.
Capt. Bird commanded a company of 20 to 30 Gonzales men at the Battle of Plum Creek where he had set up camp on 10 Aug 1840 and was on guard for the approach of the Comanche force moving north after the raid on Linnville on the coast when joined by other Texan companies to meet the Indian force. Robert Hall in his memoirs Life of Robert Hall related the following story about Capt. Bird:
Wide Ranging Minuteman & Indian Fighter
The above are compiled from muster rolls and pay voucher records in the Texas Archives. According to Weinert in History of Guadalupe County, the troop was known as the Gonzales Rangers, over 20 of those on the above list were among the founders of Seguin and at least 30 were residents of GuadalupeCo at one time.
Capt. Callahan was born 10 Sep 1814 (some say 1812) near Marion (or Marietta), GA and came to the aid of the Texas struggle for independence with the Georgia Battalion in 1835, Capt. J.C. Winn's Third Company, which served at Goliad. He was at the Battle of Coleto Creek and was captured along with Fannin and his men. Because he was a skilled "mechanic," Callahan was among the 20 physicians, nurses, interpreters and mechanics who escaped death in the massacre through the intervention of Señora Alvarez and General Francisco Gray. Other sources say he was away on a work detail in Victoria and escaped the action. Callahan was a co-founder of Walnut Springs (later Seguin) and lived in CaldwellCo in the 1840s where he owned a 350-acre farm and ran a store. He married Sarah Melissa Day in 1841 and had at least four children according to census.
Callahan was an active participant in defense of the area as a Ranger and organized his own company eventually. He led the troop that stopped horsethieves operating clandestinely out of Jose Navarro's ranch on Geronimo Creek. He served as a Lieutenant in Capt. James Bird's company at the Battle of Salado. In the 1850's, he moved to current Blanco in BlancoCo. He is known for the Callahan Expedition of 1855 in which he commanded three ranger companies in pursuit of Lipan Apache and Kickapoo Indians into Piedras Negras Mexico. Capt. Callahan initially was aided by Mexican authorities in pursuit of the Indians, but later they turned on him and together with the Indians forced him to retreat. In his retreat, he burned the town of Piedras Negras and was dismissed from the Ranger service for the act, although the public generally supported his action. Capt. Callahan was killed in 1856 in a dispute with the Woodson Blassingame family. At first buried in the Blanco Cemetery, the bodies of Capt. and Mrs. Callahan were re-interred in the Texas State Cemetery in 1931. It is believed to be Capt. Callahan and family that were listed in the 1850 census of CaldwellCo: CALAHAN: James H. 36 m GA; Sarah M. 28 f AL; Wesley 7 m TX; James S. 6 m TX; Josiah A. 3 m TX; Catherine1 f TX.
Author John Henry Brown in Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas writes of Capt. Callahan:
The above is a list of all the names that were on over 30 individual muster rolls for the company in the Texas Archives. All with precise dates of service were signed by "James H. Callahan, Captain, Commander of the Company, Gonzales County Minute Men" and Edmund Bellinger, chief justice, Gonzales County.
Although he was not based in the DeWitt Colony area, a significant number of former DeWitt Colonists and residents during the period of the Republic served under his leadership, primarily in actions against Mexican forays attempting to take back Texas territory. Cameron was a Scottish Highlander by birth in 1807-1811. According to the Handbook of Texas, he was named for the Scottish hero Sir Ewen Cameron of Lockhiel, laird of Clan Cameron and a staunch supporter of King Charles II. The Telegraph and Texas Register hailed him on September 14, 1842, as "a bold and chivalrous leader" who promised to become "the Bruce of the West." He came to Texas as part of or joined soon after arrival the Kentucky Volunteers to aid the fight for independence. He can be described as more in the adventurer class than a landholding settler and builder of Texas society. His base of operations was in the Victoria-Goliad region to the border where he was a cattle trader until 1842 when he formed a minuteman company known as the "Victoria Cowboys." The "cowboys" obtained their name because of their rugged character and ability to live off the land and maverick, if not "rustled", beef, usually confiscated from Mexican ranches during retaliatory raids on the border. Cameron served in the Army of the Texas Republic in various capacities from spring 1836 serving under Clark L. Owen, G.C. Briscoe and George W. Bonnell. Cameron sometimes fought with the losing cause of the Mexican Federalists in their attempts to regain control of Mexico and establish the "Republic of the Rio Grande." While serving with the Federalists under Samuel W. Jordan in Jun 1840, Cameron lost his horse and found in in possession of a Mexican on the Nueces and demanded its return. Col. Antonio Canales, commander in chief of the Federalists, ordered Cameron to give up the horse. After drawing his pistol and refusing, Canales ordered him court-martialed in which Cameron was exonerated and the horse returned to him. The incident made a bitter enemy of Canales. Cameron was a member of the San Patricio Rangers in 1841 whose mission was to protect the cattle trade between Texas and Mexico from bandits on both sides of the border. He participated in most actions resisting attempts by Mexican centralistas to take back Texas after 1841. However, he became an enemy of one time Federalist Gen. Canales. The author's second great granduncle Nathan Boone Burkett periodically joined Cameron's minutemen troop and served with him in the confrontation of Gen. Canales's troops at Lipantitlan in early June 1842 and in the Battle of Salado in which Gen. Woll's forces were routed back to the Mexican border.
Cameron was a prominent leader in the disastrous Mier Expedition in 1842 and the primary leader of an escape attempt at Salado in Dec 1842 as the prisoners were being taken to Perote Prison in Mexico City. After days of wandering in the wilderness without proper guides and provisions, the group surrendered to Col. Domingo Huerta. The escape precipitated the infamous "Black Bean Episode" in which every tenth man of 170 was executed by the draw of a black bean from a mixture of black and white. Capt. Cameron intially drew white, but was ordered executed because of his leadership role by direct order of Dictator Santa Anna on 25 Apr 1843. The order was said to be a result of a petition for the execution to Santa Anna by Capt. Cameron's former comrade and subsequent enemy, Col. Canales. Capt. Cameron's remains along with others of the Mier Expedition were removed to Monument Hill in La Grange where the men of both ill-fated troops of the Dawson Company at Salado and those of the Mier Expedition are memorialized. Cameron County is named in Cameron's honor.
From Texian Prisoner Joseph D. McCutchan's Journal 1845: Captain Cameron's Death. This great and brave, but neglected man, was Scotchman by bearth. He came to Texas, enlisted in the service of the country, and well did he do his duty. He resided on the western frontier at or near Victoria. It mattered not at what time or in what force the enemy came, Ewing Cameron was ever in the front rank of her defenders. His breast was ever placed to the foe, and ever ready was his arm to strike the blow in defense of the liberties of his adopted Country. He had been in several engagements previous to that of Mier, and had ever, as he did thare, show a determined, firm, resolute bravery, not to be excelled by heroes, either ancient or modern. Yet he had never been noticed, save by those immediately around and acquainted with him. He never made any boast of his own actions but showed himself by his acts to be a modest, unassuming, brave, and determined man. In the Battle of Mier he was captain of the Victoria Company, and he and his men did honor to themselves and their country in that well fought but badly ended battle. I once heard him say that he did not expect the Mexicans would let him escape. He was well known to many of the rio Grande Mexicans personally, and known by character to all. Canales was a personal enemy to him. It was partly through his personal exertions that the "break" was attempted, and dearly did he pay for it. He was unanimously chosen to lead them in the charge at the Salado, and well did he fulfill the duty placed upon him. He gave the word, lead the charge, and acted as cool and heroic as ever man could act. He drew the first bean at the Salado on the twenty-fifth of March. It is said that the Mexicans placed the white beans at the botom and the black at the top, and did not shake them up till Cameron had drawn, thare by plainly showing that it was their wish to murder him, and do it with some show of right. Even a people so base as they wished to have some pretence for an act so barbarous. On the night of the 24th of April 1843, at the solemn and awful hour of midnight he was taken out from his companions, and on the following morning was shot. Why did they not commit the horrid deed by night? It was too murderous for the light of day! Oh! Why could not some saving hand have interposed to snatch the brave, the noble victim, from his barbarous enemies-hurling them into eternity, and thus have saved one brave Texian. The murder of Cameron was an act which should have called fourth the vengance of the world on an insolent and savage race! It was a high, a horrid act of barbarity! It was an awful act! enough to make angels weap! Devils laugh! and man lament! When the Mexican Government saw that he did not draw the "Black bean," it then had him taken out and shot like a dog. May the blood of Cameron and his companions be on the heads of their murderers. We did not see him shot. The following is told by a Mexican who saw it.
This was, recollect, told by an enemy. Even they could not but give credit for his heroism. Even though they murdered, they could not but admire him, for the calmness with which he met his death.
Parents teach the name of Cameron to you children! May his name live! Nay it will live while time lasts, and when time shall be no more, Eternity itself shall catch and dwell with increasing rapture on the name of Cameron, a man neglected while living, but lamented and revered, now dead. That Noble man met an untimely and bloody end. But he met it with that cool and laudable front which he had ever presented to danger. His acts speak volums more for him than all writers of the world could say. Long last the memory of butchered Cameron!
Security Washington, Gonzales County Area
Capt. Friar recruited from and operated from his base in the current vicinity of Cuero. He first came to Texas in 1828 as part of Austin's Colony at Washington-on-the-Brazos. In Oct 1835, he was appointed by the General Council at San Felipe de Austin to form and command a company of rangers looking after security between the Brazos and Colorado Rivers with headquarters at Ouchaco, current Waco. Although he does not appear in official records records, Capt. Friar commanded a volunteer company at the Battle of San Jacinto as attested by an order by joint resolution of the Congress of the Republic in 1838. Accounts of the Battle of Salado in 1842 refer to Capt. Friar and his 35 men from Cuero. Capt. Friar and presumably some of his men are listed on the muster roll of 23 Nov 1842 of Capt. Clark Owen' Company for the Somervell Expedition
Daniel Boone Friar often called Captain D.B. Friar, was born April 4, 1800. He came to Texas from Carolina with Robertson's Colony, Stephen F. Austin's second colony. Friar was a Mason and a Democrat of Protestant faith. He was an educated man, a real leader of men and played a prominent part in the military history of Texas in 1835-36. D.B. Friar was in command of Rangers between the Brazos and Colorado Rivers in 1835; he was a Scout at the Battle of San Jacinto and was also Captain of one of the volunteer companies. He was active in defending against Indians. In March of 1840 Dan Friar fought in the last battle of the Great Indian Wars, the Battle of Plum Creek, near Lockhart, Texas. He was also a member of the historic Mier Expedition which was formed to retaliate against the capture of Texans during the Santa Fe Expedition. Friar was probably saved from death because he followed Sam Houston's order to turn back at the banks of the Rio Grande River.
After military duties were over, Friar managed a mercantile establishment in Washington County under the name of Daniel B. Friar and Company. His business thrived during the years 1837-8. On September 21, 1839 Friar bought 1261 acres of land of the Sam Lockhart Survey, then Gonzales County, later DeWitt County, for $2500. On the La Grange-La Bahia Road which crossed his land, Friar erected a two story house. For more than a quarter century it was used as a home, store, stage-stop, post office, public hall, tavern and general community center. May 22, 1846 DeWitt County's first U.S. Post Office was established there and he served as the first Postmaster. When the county's first railroad came through Cuero, four miles south of the Friar Stage-stop, the post office was moved to Cuero. Friar had a helpful part in the early organization and progress of the area. He taught school on Cuero Creek for two years (1840-42), In 1842-46 he was appointed Commissioner to select a site for the county seat of DeWitt County. He tried to give one hundred acres from the Sam Lockhart Survey for town site lots. It was not accepted after much bickering. In 1850 the county seat was moved to Clinton, west of the Guadalupe River. Business developed in Concrete and Clinton, causing a decline at Friar's store. In September 1849 he sold 661 acres to Crockett Cardwell. Daniel remained active as a stockman in this area. Some time later he moved to Yorktown, Texas, continued ranching and established another stage-stop.
Daniel Boone Friar's wife was Anne Friar. There are conflicting facts as to her name, birth date and place. One appears on her obituary. It follows:
Another theory concerning their marriage is in their Marriage Bond:
Still another place of birth comes from DeWitt County Census of 1850 - "Dan, birth place Georgia, Anne, birth place-South Carolina." Conclusion: one wife bearing all names, or two wives, each named Anne. Anne enjoyed reading Shakespeare. She was a whiz with a rifle. In January 1858 Daniel was ambushed and killed for his coins and gold. He was returning home to Yorktown from San Antonio where he had sold cattle. Dan B. and Anne are buried in Yorktown, Texas.
The Friars became parents of the following children: Sarahann, who married William Miskell, reared a family and passed the greater part of her life in DeWitt County. Alfred L., who was a soldier in General Sam Houston's army, later took part in the Mexican and Civil Wars, and passed the rest of his life as a farmer and stockman in DeWitt County. Stephen, who died unmarried. Fannie, who was the widow of Dr. Aaron C. White. Susan who was the wife of William Weisinger, sheriff of DeWitt County as long as he could be induced to hold that office. Mary, who married George Williams and spent her life in Victoria. William S., who was the father of Sidney Johnston Friar. Jack, who spent his career as a cattleman in DeWitt County and left a family by his marriage to Dordelia Peace. Ella, who was born and died in Yorktown and married John Rutledge, one of the most prominent Texas cattleman, who died in Kenedy. Edward B. who died a minor serving on the Somervell Campaign for the Republic of Texas. Anne Friar Thomas, Margaret A. Thomas, Jean Ann Friar Sheppard (From The History of DeWitt County, Texas. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Media Company)
Security Upper Lavaca River, Fayette County
Security Lower Guadalupe River
Tumlinson was born 19 Dec 1804 in probably NC (some records call him a native of Tennessee), was a military leader and Indian fighter involved in security of the DeWitt Colony, particularly the area around current Cuero covering most of current DeWitt County and northern Victoria County. He arrived in the DeWitt Colony in Dec 1829 with a family of 2 in land records and received a sitio on the east bank of the Guadalupe River adjacent to the Jose Valdez tract on which Cuero became located through purchase by Samuel Williams subsequent owners. He was commissioned by the Provisional Government of Texas in Nov 1835 to form a company of rangers for protection of an area northwest of current Austin and is considered one of the earliest "official" Texas Ranger captains. With his company, he served in the Siege and Battle of Bexar.
In Feb. 1836, Capt. Tumlinsons company was in the area when Mrs. Hibbins appeared at the Hornsbys after her escape from Comanches which had taken her and children captive after murdering her husband and brother (and subsequently her baby) while returning from a visit to her home in IL. Capt. Tumlinson knew Mrs. Hibbins well who had lived in the Cuero area where her previous husband McSherry was also murdered by Indians. Capt. Tumlinson gave immediate pursuit following Mrs. Hibbins description. According to author John Henry Brown, Tumlinson knew the country and was sure he could intercept the Indians further up the country. After traveling all night stopping only to rest his horses, he encountered the Indians about 9 AM just as they were breaking camp which Capt. Tumlinson described in his own words.
The following is the uncompleted roster showing dates of service of Capt Tumlinson's Rangers who participated in the rescue of the Hibbons child. The compilation was contributed by and is part of the ongoing research of James D. Gray. It has been compiled largely from records in the Texas General Land Office and Archives of the Audited Claims of the Republic of Texas. Capt. Tumlinson received his appointment as a result of the independence Consultation of November 1835 at San Felipe de Austin. As indicated on land claims, the troop was under command of Major Robert M. Williamson who was also appointed at the consultation.
By consensus, Capt. Tumlinson became the commander of companies led by Capt. Ben McCulloch from Gonzales and "Black" Adam Zumwalt from the Lavaca River settlements in pursuit of Comanches moving through the colony on to Victoria and Linnville on the coast.
Capt. Tumlinson served in Company F under Capt. Heard at San Jacinto. He was a farmer, rancher and land trader in addition to his role as a minuteman ranger in security of the colony against Indian and Mexican raids. His first wife Laura Cottle was the daughter of Stephen and Sarah Turner Cottle of the Austin Colony. Laura Cottle was the sister of Harriett Cottle, wife of Capt. Tumlinson's brother Andrew. After wife Laura and their son Joseph died, Capt. Tumlinson moved to the community of Clinton on the Chisholm tract across the Guadalupe River from current Cuero. Tumlinson married Delaney Aster then her sister Mary Ann Aster. John Tumlinson died in May 1853 leaving one known heir, daughter Amanda L. Tumlinson. She was raised by John's brother Peter in Atascosa County and married Cullen W. Edwards.
Siege & Battle
Security of the Lavaca River Valley
OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS