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DeLeon Colony MapPower & Hewetson Colony

Head Municipality: Refugio

From Chapter VIII of Refugio by Hobart Huson

Part Two: Previous page part one

While marking time until the status of their contract was determined, the empresarios, on December 24, 1829, purchased direct from the state government twenty-two leagues of land, to be located within the limits of their concession. [Mexico to Power and Hewetson, Grants, December 24, 1829, Refugio County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pp. 637-647]

Up to this time James Power had remained a bachelor. He now contemplated matrimony, and with this in view selected as the location of one of these leagues, Live Oak Point, on Live Oak Peninsula, one of the most beautiful spots in Texas. On this grant, which was known as Rincon de Cera, he purposed building a home for himself and his bride-to-be.

In the Fall of 1821 Power decided to go to Mexico to seek his fortune. Being acquainted with Stephen F. Austin, who was then in New Orleans, Power procured from him letters of introduction to influential persons in Mexico. Shortly thereafter Power left New Orleans and landed at Matamoros. There he became acquainted with the family of Captain Felipe Roque de la Portilla. [Philip Power, Memoirs. Felipe Roque Portilla, Jr.; Depositions in Welder-Lambert Law Suit].

Power probably could not have contacted at the outset a more worthy, interesting or valuable person than Captain Portilla. Don Felipe, a native of Spain, had gone to Mexico as an officer in the Spanish army. He later married María Ignacia de la Garza, a native of Mier, and of one of the most prominent families of the Rio Grande. After his marriage he retired from the army and engaged in ranching on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, in the vicinity of present day Brownsville. He maintained a town home in the little villa on the south side of the river, then known as the Congregation of Refugio, now the City of Matamoros.

In 1807 Captain Portilla was requested by the Spanish government to assemble a colony of Spanish and Mexicans to settle a pueblo, to be known as the Villa de San Marcos de Neve, to be established by Governor Cordero at or near the point where the Camino Real crossed the Guadalupe river (in Texas). Portilla accepted the commission and gathered a group of sixteen families, among which was his own, and in December, 1807, left Nuevo Santander for the new pueblo. He and his colonists arrived at the selected site and began the construction of a town, which was formally established January 6, 1808.

Castaneda tells us that "the leader of this group, Felipe Roque de la Portilla . . . was accompanied by his wife, María Ignacia de la Garza . . . and his seven children: Juan Calixto, Juan, María Dolores, José Francisco, María Tomasa, Luciana, and María Monica. He brought 380 cattle, 388 mares, 200 mules, 20 horses (6 tame) and 25 .donkeys . . . He also brought along his ten herders and their families and a retinue of servants. For this service to king and country Portilla was granted a town lot in the Villa de San Marcos and twelve leagues of land on the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers, about eight miles above the present town of Gonzales. [Castaneda, Catholic Heritage, V, 332-336; Linn, Reminiscences, 338]

The Villa de San Marcos de Neve had a hectic existence. On June 5, 1808, it was washed out by a flood. It was rebuilt, but the Indians were unrelenting in their hostility. Captain Portilla was usually in the saddle, battling the savages. Then came the Mexican Revolution. Conditions 'in Texas were chaotic. The government, when there was one, was unable to give military assistance; and the settlers were not strong enough to resist the Indians alone. The colony was therefore, abandoned in 1812; and most of the colonists returned to the Rio Grande.

Linn, speaking in his Reminiscences of Captain Portilla, relates that Don Felipe finally abandoned his ranch on the San Marcos "as the Indians became intolerable. In removing his cattle he left some which he failed to find, and these had multiplied to such a degree that when the Anglo-American settlers penetrated that country in 1832-5 [1823?] they found the section stocked with wild cattle free of all marks or other indices of ownership. But so wild were they that only the most expert hunters might hope to come up with them." [Linn, Reminiscences, 338]

Thus it will be seen that Captain Portilla had had a wide practical experience in colonization work, and it is likely that he suggested to Power the idea of the Irish colony. At any rate, the Portilla family encouraged Power in the undertaking and were among his colonists. The Portilla family was living in 1830 on Nueces bay, on a bluff near a place later known as "The Chimneys. How long they had lived there previously to 1830 is obscure. [Patrick Quinn, Deposition,.Welder-Lambert Law Suit; Philip Power, Memoirs. "The chimneys" were at about present-day White Point].

In July 1831 or 1832 James Power married Dolores Portilla, daughter of Captain Portilla. The wedding took place at San Patricio. The couple lived temporarily with the Portilla family at their home on Nueces bay, pending construction of the house at Live Oak Point. Patrick Quinn says of the Portilla home, "It was a large picket house covered with palmetto, on the Nueces Bay on a bluff west of where D. C. Rachal now [ 1892] lives, at a place afterwards known as the "Chimneys." [Felipe Roque Portilli, Jr., Deposition, Welder v. Lambert Law Suit, 66; Philip Power, Memoirs. Huson, El Copano, 11 (note) states Power and Dolores Portilla were married at Monterrey, Mexico, in July, 1832, and that the marriage to her sister, Tomasa, occurred at Matamoras, Mexico. Felipe Roque Portilla, Jr. testified that the first marriage took place at San Patricio in 1832, which is probably correct. He says that the second marriage was at New Orleans. Power's first wife died in 1836 during the revolution. He was in New Orleans about the time of her death. Patrick Quinn however, testified that he lived with the Portilla family for about a month in 1831, and that Power was married then].

Colonel Power at or about the time of his marriage had a house in the town of Refugio, at which he and his family lived before the commodious home on Live Oak Point was built. The town house, which was used by the Power family in March, 1834, is described as having been located "about 400 yards from the old church at Refugio, and between the church and Mission river . . . It was a picket house of two rooms with thatched roof. The house also had large fireplaces; and in connection therewith, on the river, were large paling cattle pens or corrals, which later figured in the Battle of Refugio. [Rosalie B. Priour, Depositions, Welder v. Lambert Law Suit, 99; Philip Power, Memoirs]

James Power Jr. (from Huson's Refugio)The date of completion of the house on Live Oak Point, afterwards the principal home of the Power family, is obscure. Most accounts state that James Power, Jr., was born there, April 14, 1833. Colonel Power unquestionably was living at Like Oak Point in 1835. The house in the Villa of Refugio was used by Power when he was in town on business. [Dolores Welder, Depositions, Welder-Lambert Law Suit; Philip Power, Memoirs, Huson, El Copano, 42]

The empresarios, of course, acquired all rights to the old buildings of Refugio Mission, as well as to its lands. The business offices of the colony were established in the old mission, [Philip Power, Memoirs] and preparations were made to complete the colony as soon as the legal difficulties were got out of the way. The word "complete" is used advisedly, as from what has been herein before seen and will be hereafter seen, a goodly part of the colonists were already on hand - in the persons of the Mexican possessors and settlers who have been referred to.

Practically all of the native Mexicans who appear on the lists as Power and Hewetson colonists were already on the ground, being for the most part the ranchero families herein before alluded to. Among this class of colonists were:

José Miguel Aldrete, José María Aldrete, Rafael Aldrete, Trinidad Aldrete, Augustin Austa, Tomas Banuelos, José María Blanco (born in United States), Dolores Carbajal, José María Castillo, Lino Castillo, Ygnacio Castro, José María Cobarrubias, Gregorio Cobian, José María Cobian, Guadalupe Carreaga de Cobian, José Esequito Cobian, María Soledad Cobian, Juan Flores, Antonio Galan, Tomas Galan, Pedro Gallardo, Antonio de la Garza, Carlos de la Garza, Cayetano Garza, Florentino Garza, Jacinta M. de la Garza, Juan Garza, Juan José Garza, Julian de la Garza, Rafael de la Garza, Maximo Gomez, Francesco Gonzales, Juan Gonzales, Antonio Goseacochea, Manuel Hernandez and his five brothers, Pedro Huizar, María de Jesusa de Leon (de Manchola), Esteban Lopez, Juan Macias, Miguel Menchaca, Augustin Moya, Juan Moya, Miguel Musquiz, Desederio Nira, Antonia Nunez, Francisco de la Pena, Juan Pobedando, Calixto Portilla, Roque Felipe Portilla, Encarnacion Portilla, Felipe Portilla, Jr., Francisco Portilla, Juan Portilla, José María Portilla, Tomasa Portilla, Francisco Ramon, Juan Reyna (Rener) . . . Reyna (Rener), Ynez Reyna (Rener) Anastacio Reojas, Anastacia Reyes, Florento Rios, María Josefa Rios, Francisco Rodriguez, José María Rodriguez, Leonardo Rodriguez, Miguel de los Santos, Lazaro Serna, M. L. Serna, Santiago Serna, Pedro Suarto, Victoriano Tomes, Josefa María Traviezo, José Antonio Valdez, José María Valdez, P. Villareal, Sacarias Villareal, Antonio de la Vina.

Eugenio Navarro, a native of Bexar, came to Refugio in 1832 and made certain preliminary surveys, including the bays, inlets, and islands within the empresa. Navarro was prominent in the councils at Monclova and Saltillo. Pedro Villa Serates and George Serates were Greeks. José Vidaurri, who had a grant, was a Coahuilan. Marcos Marchand appears to have been a creole of Saltillo.

One of the most outstanding of these Mexican settlers was Captain Don Carlos de la Garza, who will figure prominently in the operations of King and Ward at Refugio, in 1836. Don Carlos was born at La Bahia in 1801, his father being, it appears, a military man. He was reared in a military atmosphere, and it is said that he was a soldier all of his life. In 1829 Tomasita . . . came with her parents to La Bahia, and the same year she and Carlos were married in the presidio church. [Tomasita de la Garza, Depositions, (1891) Fox v. O'Brien, Refugio District Court].

The same year or the next the young couple moved to a place on the left bank of the San Antonio river, below La Bahia, and there established a rancho, which shortly became famous as the Carlos Ranch. Here Captain and Señora de la Garza lived, died, and were buried, and their descendants still live on the land, which was granted to them by Commissioner Vidaurri in 1834.

Numerous of the kinsmen of the haciendados followed them to the ranch and took up residence there. Among these were the families of Cavasos, Ybarbo, and Tijerina. The de la Garzas held large herds of cattle and live stock, and lived in grandee style with many servants and retainers. Shortly a community sprang up on the ranch, which had attained the proportions of a village by 1835. A log Catholic church was built, and there was a resident priest usually in attendance. The padre Valdez, who had a ranch farther down the river in the forks of the Guadalupe, frequently celebrated mass in this pioneer church. Captain de la Garza had a large log store, barrel house and commissary, which he operated up to the time of his death. Near the store was a fine double log house, in which the family lived. The logs used in the walls were hewn square, and the building stood sturdy for almost 75 years. In the neighborhood of these principal buildings were numerous houses and jacals, in which the other settlers lived, and also barns, sheds, and corrals. [V. W. Sevier , Statement, February 12, 1940; Philip Power, Memoirs; Hipolyto Perez, Statemate, February 28, 1940].

The old road from Victoria to Refugio mission passed through the Carlos ranch and crossed the San Antonio River, over which a ferry, probably the first in Refugio County, was operated by the de la Garza family. This ferry was later operated by John White Bower, who acquired a ranch on the right bank of the river, opposite the Carlos ranch. Colonel Bower is buried on his ranch at a spot not far from this historic ferry. [Philip Power, Memoirs Huson, E! Copano, 42. Will D. Bickford, Statement, 1943]

The Carlos Ranch became the place of refuge for Mexican Tories, during the revolution, and was raided several times by Fannin's men. After the revolution it sheltered Texian families during Indian depredations, was the headquarters of the Texian army and General Albert Sidney Johnson, a post for Texas rangers, and on more than one occasion during the Republic the county seat de facto of Refugio County. All as we shall hereafter see.

Another outstanding Mexican settler was the padre José Antonio Valdez, who with José María and Pedro Valdez, had a ranch in the forks of the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers. [Mexico to Valdez, Grant, Sept. 26, 1834, Refugio Deed Records, 13, 149]

Both of these men had been Captains in the National Army of the Three Guarantees, organized by Iturbide under the Plan of Iguala. [Holliday v. Harvey, 39 Tea. 671; Priestley, The Mexican Nation, 247-250]

The padre Valdez was cure of La Bahia when Stephen F. Austin visited the place in 1821. He was one of the negotiators and signers of Austin's last treaty with the Karankawa, on May 13, 1827. [Treaty between Colonists and Karankawas, May 13, 1827, Austin Papers, II, 1639-1641]

During the Texian Revolution he was the head of the Mexican espionage system, with headquarters at the Carlos Ranch. Valdez was granted four leagues in the forks of said rivers on June 3, 1824, but he later accepted a less quantity as a Power colonist. Besides the Mexican settlers before named, all of whom received grants, there were others who had been residents for long periods of time, who, for some unknown reasons, did not apply for grants, or at any rate failed to receive same.

Besides the early Mexican settlers there were within the empresa certain Nordic settlers, some of whom had come to Texas to join the Power, or some other colony, and were waiting until the empresarios got their difficulties adjusted, and others whose origin was somewhat obscure. Among the latter were some who reputedly had been members of Jean Lafitte's filibusters. Some of these received grants as colonists, while some did not.

Among those who were within the empresa prior to the landing of the colonists from Ireland and received grants in the Power colony were the following:

James and Leonard Brown, Catalina Dugan, Nicholas Fagan, Michael Fox, John Keating, Edward McDonough, Michael Reilley, William Ryan, John Scott, and John and Patrick Shelly, who came in 1829, or prior thereto. John Dunn had lived at Goliad for several years before removing to Refugio prior to 1834. Peter Hynes and family arrived in 1831, and John Malone, James McGeehan and John Pollan in 1833, or prior thereto. Jeremiah Toole came to Refugio in 1827, as a McMullen colonist. The Quinn family, including William and wife, Bridget, and sons, William, James and Patrick, came to Refugio in 1829, as McMullen colonists. The Tooles and Quinns went to San Patricio in 1831 or 1832 but disagreeing with the empresarios of that colony, came back to Refugio in 1833 and joined the power colony. Edmund St. John is said to have been living at Refugio between 1829 and 1834. Peter Teal came in 1826. The Sidecks were in this section long prior to the Irish colony. John B. Sideck moved to Texas from Louisiana in 1819. Peletiah Bickford is also said to have been living on the San Antonio River prior to 1834; but if so, he did not receive a grant as a colonist. Joshua Davis is one other who appears to have been an early settler on the San Antonio River.

Among the Power colonists were the following families, who immigrated direct from the United States, hence did not come over with the colonists from Ireland:

John and William Anderson, José María Blanco, Elkanah Brush, Robert Carlisle, Joseph Coffin, Andrew Devereaux (Louisiana), Lucius W. Gates, nephew of Westover, (Mass.), Cornelius Philip Hermanns, William Langenheim, Amand Victor Loupe (Louisiana), Antoine Sayle (Louisiana), and Ira Westover. Also the following colonists came from other places and not with the colonists from Ireland: Dr. John Cameron (a Scot and naturalized Mexican citizen), James Collyer (Great Britain), John James (Nova Scotia), Marcos Marchand (Saltillo), Pedro Villa Sarates (a Greek and naturalized Mexican citizen), Charles and John Shearn (England), John Smiley, Charles Smith, James Walmsley, John Walmsley, and Henry Winchester (the last five from Great Britain). All of the colonists in this group were at Refugio prior to June 11, 1834. [The facts regarding places of origin and dates of arrival of colonists have been compiled from the land grants, family histories, statement of Will D. Bickford, Philip Power's Memoirs, Depositions in the Welder-Lambert Law Suit, and from many other sources].

During the Texas Centennial various groups and organizations---racial, religious, and fraternal---vied with one another in publicizing what their respective members contributed in the building of Texas. This tendency, of course, was commendable, but in their zeal to make good showings they frequently assumed their facts. This was especially true in the case of the Irish Colonists. It was assumed by some that inasmuch as most Irish were Roman Catholics that every one with an Irish name in the Refugio colony was a practical Catholic, and it was also assumed that many of other national names were likewise practical Catholics. Such assumptions were in many instances unfounded. Many of the Power colonists were Germans, English, Canadians and North Americans, most of whom were Protestant. The Frasers, Westovers, Gates, Ayers, Osbornes, Shearns, Dietrichs, and numerous others were Protestants and Masons. Ayers was practically run out of the McMullen colony for distributing Protestant literature. [See Ryan, Sharnrock and Cactus. Mrs. Teal states that in 1829 one Shaw had settled on the San Antonio river and was forced to leave because he was a Protestant. 34 Q. 318]

Believing his legal difficulties to be out of the way and being under the impression that he had a three year extension for the completion of his contract, Colonel Power prepared to go on his long contemplated voyage to Ireland, where he confidently expected to recruit the bulk of his colorists. Although Mrs. Power was then enciente, he felt that his journey could be no longer postponed and arranged to leave his wife with her parents. In April, 1833, Power arranged for passage to New Orleans on a vessel which had anchored off Aransas Pass.

After the vessel had weighed anchor, or was about to do so, a horseman was seen on the shore frantically signaling to the vessel. The captain sent a small boat to shore to find out what the trouble was, and shortly the boat returned to the schooner with Francisco de la Portilla, Power's brother-in-law, aboard. Francisco had come to advise Power of the birth of his son, James, on April 14. Power then endeavored to cancel his passage, but the captain refused to refund the money. Not knowing when he might get another vessel and not being able to lose the passage money, Power decided to continue on his journey. He did not see his son until more than a year later. [Dolores Welder, Depositions, Welder-Lambert Law Suit, 148-150; Huson, El Copano, 13-14]

Power appears to have taken the river route from New Orleans to Wheeling, thence overland to Philadelphia and New York, from which port he sailed for Ireland, on October 14, 1833. [Huson, El Copano, 13-14 28 LaMar Papers, IV, pt. I, pp. 239-242 24 Decree No. 226, April, 1833, G. L. I, 321-322]

En route to New York, he stopped off at various places, seeking prospective colonists. Some of these he found at New Orleans, Louisville, Philadelphia (where he got a number), and in and around New York City. Those who agreed to go to Texas, he started off immediately. Many of them were waiting for him at Refugio mission when he returned in May of the following year. Before he had sailed from New York, he was informed that Governor Latona had died and that Veramendi had taken his place, and that the latter had had the decree extending the life of the contract annulled. [Huson, El Copano, 13-14 28 Lamar Papers, IV, pt. I, pp. 239-242 24 Decree No. 226, April, 1833, G. L. I, 321-322]

Thus Power found that he had but until June, 1834, within which to fulfill the contract. Upon his arrival in Ireland, Colonel Power went to the home of his sister, Mrs. Isabella O'Brien, in County Waterford, which he made his headquarters during his visit to his homeland. He located and visited his many relatives who were living in South Ireland, the O'Connors and Powers, among others, and interested them in his Texas project. He had hand-bills printed, advertising for immigrants, and posted them all over Ireland. Many of those who became colonists had never heard of Texas until they saw these hand-bills. Tenant farmers, or small proprietors, from all parts of Ireland, came down to Waterford to obtain more detailed information. [William St. John, Depositions, Welder-Lambert Law Suit; Rosalie B. Priour, Depositions, id; Oberste, History of Refugio Mission, 340]

Those who were able to sell out and leave were sent by Power to Texas in small groups, from time to time, in advance of the sailings of the main bodies of colonists. [Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 240]

These in due time reached Texas and went into camp at the mission. Among these early arrivals appear to have been Thomas O'Connor, the Lambert family and Edward St. John. [Warburton, History of the O'Connor Ranch, 2]

Mrs. Rosalie B. Priour (nee Hart), who was a child at the time, says of Colonel Power's activities in Ireland:

"Mr. James Power held meetings at the home of his sister Mrs. (Isabella) O'Brien, in Ireland, where he told his friends and acquaintances who gathered there about America and the advantages to be secured there by colonists. Among other inducements he told them that each family or head of family would receive a land grant of one league and one labor of land from the Mexican government, and that each single person would also receive a land grant, but of a smaller quantity. Power also made a personal canvass in various parts of Ireland in search of colonists.

"Practically all of the persons who attended the meetings were tenant farmers, but none of them owned any land in Ireland. Their object in coming to America was to secure lands of their own, my recollection being that under the law in force in Ireland at that time no Catholic was permitted to own land, with only a few exceptions, most of the lands in that country being also entailed and not subject to be sold or divided.

"Mr. Power was to charter a ship which was to land the colonists and their goods at Copano, in Texas. The colonists agreed to pay stated sums of money for passage and transportation of their household goods, farming implements and one year's supply of provisions. The passage money was generally paid by the colonists in advance before embarking at Liverpool. A time was fixed for the sailing to Texas, and the place of embarkation was designated as Liverpool.

"The persons who agreed to go to Texas as colonists sold all their personal property, such as horses, cattle and sheep, and brought the money with them. As before stated, they had no land to sell."

Power gained about 350 recruits as the result of his activities in Ireland. The bulk of these colonists left Liverpool, England, in two groups; the first consisting of 108 souls, with whom was Rosalie B. Hart (later Mrs. Priour), and the second consisting of some 200 persons, with whom were William St. John and his father and brother, James. The first group on board the Prudence, commanded by Captain Chapin, left Liverpool, on December 26, 1833. Bad weather forced the ship back into port on the 29th. It again set sail on January 8, 1834, and arrived at New Orleans on April 23, 1834. The voyage was as tragic as it was long, and but few of the passengers ever reached the colony alive. Lamar states that "all but eight perished in one week with the cholera. [Oberste, History of Refugio Mission, 340-341; Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 240]

Mrs. Priour, who was with the group on the Prudence, relates:

"The colonists assembled at various times and in various ways in Liverpool at the time set for sailing. Most of the colonists did not know each other prior to assembling at Liverpool, but became acquainted before boarding ship. Among the colonists were a number of kinspeople of Mr. Power. His sister, Mrs. O'Brien and her husband, and sons, Morgan and John, and daughters, Bridget and Agnes, also some of his brothers, and his nephew, Martin Power, were among the colonists. Martin Power was a cripple and walked with aid of crutch or stick.

"Among the colonists was James Bray, the surveyor, and a few servants and laborers. [Mrs. Priour may be mistaken as to Bray. He or his family appears to have formerly lived in Louisville, Kentucky].

"After waiting some time in Liverpool for our ship to sail for America, and spending Christmas, 1833, in Liverpool, about 350 colonists boarded the vessel with their goods and supplies. The ship chartered by Mr. Power was one of the largest sailing vessels afloat in those days. I do not remember the name of the ship. The ship weighed anchor during the holidays, after Christmas, or at least not later than the early days of the year 1834. Mr. Power returned to Texas in the same vessel with the colonists.

"The voyage from Liverpool to New Orleans was in the main uneventful, except for a severe storm in the bay of Biscay, when all passengers were ordered below deck and the hatches fastened down. My father, Thomas Hart, having been a customs officer or "Water-guard" at Cork, Ireland, I was accustomed to the water, and not afraid of the storm.

"On the ocean I remember seeing another large merchant vessel following close to our vessel for several days, and the people on our vessel were alarmed for several days for fear they were being pursued by pirates, until finally the other vessel came in hailing distance and proved to be a friendly merchantman.

"Our ship was so crowded that all available space was occupied by the colonists who furnished their own beds or bunks and their own provisions and did their own cooking and household duties the same as they did in the home.

"I remember upon reaching the coast of Florida, our captain was afraid to venture through Florida Strait on account of the great size of the ship, and to avoid danger coasted around the Island of Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico. While passing through Cuba, owing to the great heat of the sun on the ship's deck, my little sister, Elizabeth, then about five years old, received a sunstroke from which she soon died and was buried at sea . . . She was a great favorite with the officers and crew of the ship, and my parents were unable to prevent her from staying on deck in the hot sun.

"Our ship was about sixty days out of sight of land and about two months and a half making the trip from Liverpool to New Orleans, which voyage in the main was rather a pleasant one and all the passengers kept healthy.

"After reaching New Orleans all the passengers remained or had their headquarters on the ship, where we had to wait, to the best of my recollection, two or three weeks, (a part of which time I was sick) before we were transferred to the two schooners that brought us to Aransas Pass."

The last contingent of colonists, numbering between 200 and 300, sailed from Liverpool on the ship Heroine, Captain Russell, on March 12, 1834, and arrived at New Orleans during May of the same year. [Colonel Power returned with this contingent, which included William St. John. Oberste, History of Refugio Mission, 340-341; William St. John, Depositions, Welder-Lambert Law Suit]

At New Orleans they found the first group awaiting their arrival. After a delay of about a week Colonel Power chartered two large three masted schooners, the Wild Cat, Captain Ramsdale, and the Sea Lion, Captain Willing H. Living, to bring the colonists on to El Copano. A number of passengers, some of them probably colonists, among them being John J. Linn and his bride, were also taken aboard at New Orleans. [Linn, Reminiscences, 30; Huson, E! Copano, 16; Oberste, History of Refugio Mission, 341342; Warburton, History of the O'Connor Ranch, 2-3; William St. John and Rosalie B. Priour, Depositions, in Welder-Lambert Law Suit; Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 240-241]

Colonel Power, the St. Johns and Harts, were among those on the Sea Lion. The Linns were aboard the Wild Cat. Both of the schooners were wrecked at the Aransas bar, which proved so often to be the bane to ships entering the bay. Colonel Linn states:

"Without anything unusual occurring on the trip, we arrived at the pass, which we found stormy and bad. Notwithstanding the dangers of trying to cross this bar, the captain announced his determination to enter the bay at any hazard. As our little schooner reached the bar a rough sea broke on her and a heavy swell threw her from the channel, and she became unmanageable. The consequence was that she struck heavily on the bar in about five feet of water, where she remained fast aground. We had taken the precaution to shut and fasten the cabin door.

"Another heavy sea struck her and completely washed her decks, those upon deck only saving themselves by clinging desperately to the ropes. This `roller' lifted the vessel into shallow water where she was permanently fixed.

"The cabin doors were then opened, and the passengers within, who had imagined that we had all been swept overboard, congratulated us upon our escape, and especially Mrs. Linn in that she had not been left a young widow. Our staunch little craft withstood this warfare of the elements wonderfully well, and, though beat up on the bar by the angry waves, did not leak at all. But the water had played havoc with our culinary department, and the cook announced that it would be an impossibility to get supper. We therefore contented ourselves with bread and cheese, and passed the night quite comfortably under the circumstances. In the morning it was discovered that the schooner had taken several inches of water in the hold, and that the leak was increasing. The weather continued tempestuous.

"On the following day two vessels were seen approaching the bar. One proved to be the schooner Cardena, loaded with merchandise for San Antonio. The other was a large vessel and had on board colonists for Power's and Hewetson's colony. The Cardena headed her course for us. We signalled her to steer to the east of us, as we were on the west side of the bar, but the atmosphere was hazy and a heavy sea running, our signals were disregarded, and the schooner struck with her broadside to the sea and wind. In about two hours the Cardena succumbed to the surf and gale and went to pieces. The most of her cargo was lost; but little washed ashore.

"The other vessel was handled in a manner indicative of skillful seamanship, and stood `on and off' until late in the afternoon, when the Captain put all sails on and stood in for the bar. She was steered too far eastward, however, and brought up on the breakers, where she thumped tremendously by reason of having her canvass all unfurled. Each roll of the surf would take her headlong forward, her keel grating on the bar. But in about one hour she fought her way over these formidable obstacles and entered the bay, where she run into a mud-bank with several feet of water in her hold, from which position she was never rescued. Fortunately all the colonists were landed on the beach in safety. . . I was fortunate in being able to hail a schooner which had just discharged her cargo at Copano, and engaged her to transport my goods to Copano, at which point they were landed in a few days. [Linn, Reminiscences, 30-32]

Mrs. Priour, who was on the Sea Lion, states that the Wild Cat made the voyage from New Orleans to Aransas Pass in twenty-four hours and that the Sea Lion made it in about forty-eight hours. She says,

"On nearing Aransas Pass we could see the schooner Wild Cat and that it had run ashore. Colonel Power ordered the captain of the schooner (Sea Lion, in my presence, at the point of a pistol, to change his course to prevent his running his vessel aground. After casting anchor for the night the captain of our schooner, in the night, also run our schooner ashore..."

According to William St. John no lives were lost by reason of the wrecks and practically all cargoes were saved. The Wild Cat eventually capsized, and its passengers were put ashore on St. Joseph's Island. Some of the passengers of the Sea Lion went to the Island, but many of them remained aboard the vessel. Colonel Power and two other men took a sail boat and went to El Copano for help. They had been informed that there was a schooner in port about ready to depart. [Rosalie B. Priour and William St. John, Depositions, in Welder-Lambert Law Suit]

The wrecks at the Aransas bar occurred on May 23, 1834, and several accounts charge that the wrecking of the vessels was intentional, with the object of collecting the insurance. [Mrs. Rosalie B. Priour, Depositions; Lamar Papers, N, pt. 1, 241]

Immediately after the shipwrecks the cholera broke out among the colonists in an epidemic form, and many of the unhappy people died before transportation could be procured to convey them to their destination. The colonists had to remain on St. Joseph's Island or on board the Sea Lion, until they could be taken off. [Linn, Reminiscences, 32; Mrs. Priour, Depositions]

In the fall of 1833 cholera appeared in New Orleans. The disease attained epidemic proportions, and swept across Texas and well into Mexico. Martin de Leon and Governor Latona were among the notable victims. The full effect of the epidemic was not felt at Goliad and Bexar until June and July, 1834. The origin of the cholera in Goliad was blamed on the sale of merchandise "from three ships which were shipwrecked on the coast of Aransas port. [Haggard, Epidemic Cholera in Texas, 1833-1834, 40 Q. 216-230]

The ships were undoubtedly those herein before mentioned in connection with the Power Colony. These vessels had no doubt become infected before they left New Orleans, and such was the opinion of the surviving colonists. Mrs. Priour tells of the horrors of the epidemic. She states:

"After grounding the schooners off Aransas Pass, an epidemic of cholera, supposed to have been contracted in New Orleans, broke out among the colonists. My recollection is that about 250 of the colonists died and were buried at sea. A child of Mr. St. John, brother to Mr. William St. John, now at the Mission, died, and through sympathy for the grief-stricken parents and their horror of burying their child at sea, I remember seeing my father and a Mr. Paul Keogh take the child in a little boat to St. Joseph's Island, where they buried it. After burying the child Mr. Keogh fell sick with cholera and died at St. Joseph's Island and was buried there also by my father, who remained with him to his death. [Mrs. Prious must be mistaken as to Paul Keogh dying on St. Joseph's Island, as among the Milford P. Norton papers is a letter written by Keogh's attorney to Norton in regard to the colonial grant which Keogh was supposed to get. At that time in the 1850's Keough was living in Virginia].

After an absence of about forty-eight hours from the schooner my father returned. As .soon as my mother and I saw him we were frightened by his gaunt and distressed appearance and we could see that he was seriously ill; but he told us that he was only weak from hunger; that he had had no nourishment except water which he found by digging with his spade on the island.

"After my mother and I ministered to my father's wants, giving him food, etc., he was taken suddenly very ill and died about twenty-four hours afterwards and one hour after landing from the lighter at Copano, where he was buried by my mother and a Mr. Hart (no relation to my parents), who was already living in Texas and happened to be in Copano. I saw them wrapping my father in a blanket and bury him. I was sick and lyingon the pallet with him when he died. I thought at first he was only sleeping, but when I tried to awaken him I found he was dead."

Colonel Power, although ill himself, went to El Copano for help, as has been seen. At the port he found Captain Auld of the schooner Sabine, which was lying at anchor. [Huson, El Copano, 15; Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 241]

"Power gave him $400 to go after his emigrants at the Aransas and bring them to Copano Landing; which duty he performed with dispatch, humanity and fidelity. Captain Auld found many of them in great sufferance, but by his kindness, preserved their lives & brought them safe to Copano.

Most accounts agree that the colonists were taken to El Copano on a schooner, but Mrs. Priour states that the colonists were lightered from the wrecked Sea Lion into the port. She says that they had remained on board the ship for two or three weeks before they were lightered to Copano, "where the old Mexican Custom House stood. It was a small brick house near the shore of Copano bay .... My impression is that this building stood near the mouth river." [Rosalie B. Priour, Depositions, Welder-Lambert Law Suit]

After landing the colonists were kept under quarantine at El Copano for about two weeks, under guard of Mexican soldiers, "amid the greatest suffering and distress," which the Mexican officials did their utmost to relieve. Many of the colonists died after landing at El Copano.  It appears that most of the cholera victims were among the passengers of the Sea Lion. Out of the passengers of this vessel 50 or 60 died; among the number some of Colonel Power's nearest friends and relatives, including his sister, Mrs. O'Connor, and several nieces. [Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 241]

The victims were buried along the bayshore, and some in the Old Field. There appears to be no exact account of the number of the victims, but it has been estimated variously from 100 to 250. [Mrs. Priour places the number of cholera victims at 250].

Besides those who came from Ireland, it would seem that a number of those who were already at the Mission died of the disease. Among these were Dugan, Peter Golden, and Charles Gillan, whose widows afterwards married prominent colonists. Upon his arrival at El Copano, Colonel Power was met by John Dunn and several Karankawa Indians. Power entrusted Dunn with a letter for the jefe politico at Bexar, announcing the arrival of the Irishmen and requesting that another commissioner be appointed to extend titles. Oberste, Texas Irish Empresarios; Lamar Papers, IV, Pt. I, 241]

Gallardo having died (evidently a cholera victim), arrangements were made to assemble carts and bring them to El Copano to haul the surviving colonists and their worldly possessions to the mission. While most of the colonists encamped along the bayshore, awaiting release from quarantine and also for the carts, many of them took up their abode in the old shell-concrete buildings said to have been at one time part of Refugio Mission. Some of these colonists remained there for several months and cultivated in common the Big Field. Rusty plow points said to have been left there by these colonists could be seen up to a few years ago. [Statement of Judge J. Frank Low to the author]

Mrs. Priour continues:

"Finally we were hauled on ox-wagons from Copano to the Mission Refugio. There we settled upon the lots which were donated by the Mexican government to our family. I remember seeing the colonists working their field, planting their crops, and making their living in various ways. At first most of them farmed together in one large field which they fenced together in the bend of the river by way of convenience and economy. If the colonists had not brought supplies with them it would have been impossible for them to have obtained the necessaries of life in Texas at that time, to say nothing to the luxuries. The manner of life of the people in those early days was very simple and very much the same in all the families of my acquaintance."

The Fagan family has been mentioned as being among the earliest arrivals of Power's colonists. Nicholas Fagan, with his family, embarked in 1829 at New Orleans on the schooner Pomona, Captain Prietta, bound for a Mexican port. With the Fagans were Edward McDonough and his family. The Americans had a special permit from the Mexican colonists to be landed at El Copano, and Captain Prietta put them off at that landing. From the port they trekked with ox carts, which they had secured, across the rolling prairies to the San Antonio river, camping on the prairie en route. The first night out of El Copano they experienced their first Texas "norther." The wandering off of their oxen stalled them in the prairie for two days. Eventually they safely reached the river.  The two families selected the lands they desired and applied to the authorities at Goliad for titles. Taking chances on obtaining titles, they proceeded to fell timber and erect log cabins on their respective lands. Until the cabins had been completed the families lived in tents.' [Teal, Reminiscences, 34 Q. 319; Huson, El Copano, 6, 14, 17]

Not far from the site chosen by the Fagans for their cabin had lain for many years the wreck of an old Spanish barkantine. This vessel, it is said, had come into Aransas Bay, loaded with specie to pay the military at La Bahia and Bexar. A terrific storm arose which blew the barkantine out of the bay and onto the prairie near a creek which now bears the name of Barkantine or Bergantin. When the storm had receded the ship was left high and dry on land, a considerable distance from the bay. The gold it is said to have carried, and the personal property aboard had long since been looted, but the timber and hardware were sound and usable. The Fagans used the lumber, iron and hardware from this wreck in constructing their home. [Huson, El Copano, 6; based on William L. Kuykendall Reminiscences].

Mrs. Annie Fagan Teal, daughter of Nicholas, states that at the time the Fagan and McDonough families settled on the river there was only one other white man in the vicinity. He was a man named Shaw, and the Mexican officials ordered him to depart when they discovered he was not a Catholic. She proceeds:

"Nicholas Fagan built his first house of logs. It was a pretentious two-story, affair. He and his sons sawed the logs from trees in the river bottom, and slowly the house was erected. The logs were so heavy that in some cases six yokes of oxen were required to drag them to the building site. The logs were put in place and bolted together. The shingles for the roof were handhewn.

"At that time there was a rancho owned by Don Carlos de la Garza on the north side of the San Antonio. A foundation herd of cattle was purchased by the Fagans from Don Carlos. There was not a bushel of corn in the country, because the Indians molested the Mexican settlers so greatly that they could not plant or cultivate food crops. Fagan managed to get some small boats and made his way along the coast to Caney in the Matagorda settlement and obtained a supply of corn. Mill-stones for grinding grain, McDonough brought a hand-mill. When the corn was brought from Caney it was found full of weavils. Necessity drove the settlers to the use of the corn despite its condition, and the weevils were driven out by applying heat, and the grain was husked in lye.

"The Fagans were successful in planting a corn crop for the ensuing season, and also got a supply of wheat from Mexico, and soon found themselves comfortably situated from provision standpoint."

Shortly after the Fagans and McDonoughs had taken up their lands, several other families located in the river area. Among them were those of Edward Perry, John B. and Anthony Sideck, Peter Teal and Joshua Davis. Captain Hernandez already had a rancho near Mesquite Landing. These families formed a little colony of their own. [Teal, Reminiscences, 34 Q. 319; W. L Kuykendall, Reminiscences; Philip Power, Memoirs. Rosalie B. Priour, Martin Tool, and William St. John, Depositions in Welder-Lambert Law Suit. See also record in Withers v. O'Connor, No. 418, Refugio District Court].

In connection with coastal landings of colonists bound for the Refugio colony, an interesting and somewhat amusing fact will be related. The Irish empresarios, in letters to prospective settlers from the United States, urged them to come to their colonies as soon as possible, and by way of El Copano. As the coastal waters were not generally known in that day, he directed attention to Live Oak Point as a means of identifying the entrance into Copano bay. Some of the vessels bringing small groups of his colonists, lost their bearings and put into San Antonio or Mesquite bays by mistake. As the point at that place closely resembled the empresario's description of Live Oak Point, several groups of colonists landed there. Upon discovering their mistake, they went overland to Fagan's and other settlements on the San Antonio river, else went by boat to historic Mesquite Landing (the Paraje del Muelle of Refugio Mission fame). Such is the origin of the name of False Live Oak Point, now in Aransas County. [See statement of Will D. Bickford. Martin Tool, Deposition, Welder-Lambert Law Suit 137. There is another legend that Jean Lafitte got the promontory confused with Live Oak Point, and referred to it as False Live Oak Point to distinguish it from "real' Live Oak Point].

All of the colonists had now arrived. A few more arrived after June 11, 1834, the date of expiration of the contract. Although some of these late arrivals continued to live in the colony, they did not receive grants from the government. William H. Living and some others bought solares from regular colonists and settled in the town. There were some who came and left. Among these were Mordecai Cullen, Peter Keogh, Edward Dray and the McCoys.

In order for the colonists to receive the grants of land, which were the inducements that had brought them to this wild country, it was necessary that the governor send a commissioner to the colony to extend the titles. It appears that such a commissioner, Guajardo, probably a relative of Mrs. Hewetson, had come to Refugio in 1833 or 1834, but he had died without ever issuing a title. Manuel del Moral was appointed to succeed him, but that worthy declined the honor. Finally, on June 19, 1834, José Jesús de Vidaurri, a scion of the notable Coahuilan family of that name, was appointed; and he accepted and immediately came to Refugio. [Translations, Empresario Contracts, General Land Office. Lamar Papers, IV, pt. 1, 241, states that Vidaurri came to the colony Aug. 3, 1834; however, this is incorrect, as Vidaurri was unquestionably at Refugio in July. (See grants of town lots, institution of ayuntamiento Philip Power, Memoirs)]

One of the first official acts of Vidaurri was to appoint four surveyors, some being appointed in writing, others verbally. [Power v. Casterline, Suit No. 95, Refugio District Court]

Eugenio Navarro, of Bexar, had made surveys within the empresa in 1832, but did not continue as a surveyor, although he became a colonist. The four surveyors appointed by Vidaurri were Samuel Addison White, afterwards Captain in the Texian army and prominent attorney and district judge. [Taylor, Cavalcade of Jackson County, 454; Bissell v. Haynes, 9 Tex. 556; Hamilton v. Menefee, 11 Tex. 718; Cameron v. White, 3 Tex. 152; White v. Holliday, 11 Tex. 606, 20 Tex. 67; White v. Williams, 13 Tex. 258; White v. Parish, 20 Tex. 689; Tudor v. White, 27 Tex. 584, 32 Tex. 758; Sabriego v. White, 30 Tea. 576].

Armand Victor Loupe, afterwards a hero of the Texas Revolution and who was executed with Colonel Zapata during the Federalist War; Isaac Robinson (probably one of the Alamo heroes); and James Bray, who surveyed the Town Tract of Refugio; George W. Cash, who afterwards died with Fannin's men, also did surveying in the vicinity of Goliad.

Court Depositions William St. John & Rosalie Priour

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