OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
© 1997-2010, Wallace L. McKeehan, All Rights Reserved.
DeWitt Colony People & Demographics
Short Memoirs & Sketches from Old Texians
From San Jacinto Veteran James Monroe Hill 1894. AUSTIN, TEX, June 22.---Noticing in The Post a list of the survivors of the Battle of San Jacinto and the probable visit of a number of them to the famous grounds on the Fourth of July, for the purpose of designating same incident to their purchase by the State, the writer called upon Col. James M. Hill, chairman of the committee charged with the duty above mentioned, and also a member of Houston's army at the time of that memorable engagement. The following interesting incidents pertaining to the battle were gleaned from him. They are, in brief, the actual experiences of Colonel Hill from the time he joined the army on the Colorado River to and after the Battle of San Jacinto:
I left the family homestead near Independence, Washington County, in a party of nine, composed of my father, Asa Hill, Nicholas Whitehead, Scates, Chas. Williams and others, and joined Houston on the Colorado River at Columbus, on the north side of the river. Houston, with his army, had crossed the river some 12 miles above at Bunshams Crossing, on his retreat from Gonzales. Shortly after my arrival a division of Santa Anna's army confronted Houston at Columbus. A small detachment of Houston's men crossed and engaged the Mexicans in a skirmish, without casualties. I was attached to a detachment of about 300 to hold the ford just north of the town. Houston got information that the main Mexican Army was crossing the Colorado River some 15 or 20 miles below, at what was called the Tusky Seat crossing with the evident object of surrounding the army of Houston and getting between them and their families. On getting this information Houston took up his line of march east for the Brazos at San Felipe, where we camped the following night. Next day we marched up the Brazos River, crossing Mill Creek, and camped, and on the following day continued up the river, opposite Donahoe's, where the army remained in camp 12 days. The Brazos was very high and no means were obtainable to cross.
A messenger was sent to Washington to have the steamboat Yellowstone come down and aid the army in crossing. Houston left at San Felipe Captain Baker's company to guard that crossing. They crossed and encamped on the east side and remained until the main army crossed at Donahoe's, when they were notified and joined them. My recollection is that Captain Baker's company brought the two cannon, Twin Sisters, up with him to Donahoe's, which was the first time Houston had them. The steamboat Yellowstone was used to cross the Brazos. No incident of consequence transpired during the 12 days in camp, except one notable desertion from the Regular Army. The party was caught, court-martialed, and sentenced to be shot. The grave was dug and all preliminaries arranged to carry into execution the sentence, when Houston pardoned him. He afterward became a brave and daring soldier and did valiant service.
After the Yellowstone had finished crossing the army at Donohoe's she proceeded down the river loaded with cotton; in passing San Felipe the Mexicans who occupied the east bank made a heroic and novel attempt to capture her. She was riddled with bullets and an effort made to lariat her, but she passed in safety as they were well protected by cotton bales. The day the army took up the march east from Donohoe's, the road being almost impassable, the wagons became bogged and progress was very slow and difficult. One very commendable incident is treasured to the credit of General Houston, who left his horse and lent a helping hand at the wheel when the wagons were in the bog. His sympathy and earnest assistance was ever present with the soldiers, which doubtless contributed to the wonderful influence lie possessed over his men. The trip from the Brazos to Buffalo Bayou opposite Harrisburg was made by continuous march, when the army went into camp. Upon our arrival we found that the Mexicans had burned Harrisburg and their trail indicated that they had continued their march east toward Galveston Bay. The opportunity that Houston planned presented itself soon after encamping on the bayou. Deaf Smith captured a courier of Felisol's or Urea's army, I forget which, who bore important dispatches that revealed the position of the various Mexican armies and the whereabouts of Santa Anna and his mission to the bay, which was to capture President Burnett, who at the time was residing on the East Bay. This attempt at capture came very near proving successful, as President Burnett escaped in an open boat with some ladies on the approach of the Mexicans.
I will not attempt to give anything like an accurate statement of anything that did not occur of my own knowledge and of which I was not personally cognizant. Soon after the capture of the courier and a short consultation between Houston, Rusk, and Deaf Smith, Houston had the army drawn up in a hollow square and made them a speech, which, in brief, was that the time had arrived and as the men had been wanting to fight an opportunity presented itself. Santa Anna with his army was located and he intended to engage him. He told them that the battle cry should be "Remember the Alamo."
General Rusk followed Houston eloquently, urging them to let the battle cry be "Remember the Alamo," "Remember Labadie." The soldiers were dismissed to procure 3 days' rations, with knapsacks, guns, and ammunition. Captain McNutt, with his company, was detailed to remain at camp, and a detail of 10 men from the left of each company was announced would be made to remain in camp. When the command to 'fall in' was given a regular scramble and rush was made to get in line to save the detail. The eagerness to engage the Mexicans was so intense that great feeling was manifested among all the army. Those that were slow in getting into line comprised the bulk of the detail. No time was lost from the capture of the Mexican courier until arrangements were consummated to commence the march to intercept and engage Santa Anna's army. This was in the evening. Buffalo Bayou was crossed to the south side about 1 mile below Harrisburg on a small leaky boat, which would hold about 1 dozen. It was with great difficulty the boat could be kept afloat, had to keep bailing constantly to do so. A rope was extended from bank to bank and the trips were made back and forth with great rapidity. Rations were very scarce and to give one an idea of each man's supply I give the following as my allowance for the 3 days---1 small rib chop of beef, partially cooked, which did not last me through the night; 1 pint of flour. The bayou was crossed and the army took up the march toward the bay about dusk. They marched all night and halted about 1 hour just before daylight, when they continued until about 9 o'clock, when they halted for 15 minutes. News arrived that our spies had intercepted theirs, when orders were given to continue the march. An amusing effort was made by the worn and hungry soldiers to get something to eat during this small stop. I depended upon my flint, steel, and punk to get a spark of fire and then dry grass with the burning punk passed rapidly through the air to create a blaze.
I hurriedly poured a little flour into my gourd and wet it and put the dough around a stick and thrust it into the fire when the command "March" was given. We continued until the Mexicans were sighted and were seen to be approaching; this was on the morning of the 20th of April about 10 o'clock. Houston took up a position on the bayou near the spot that the killed were buried and which is commonly supposed to be the spot where the main battle was fought. The Mexicans advanced to within a few hundred yards, where they planted their cannon, a 9-pounder, and commenced a fierce cannonading between their gun and our Twin Sisters, small 4-pound guns under command of Colonel Neal. During this engagement Colonel Neal was wounded very extraordinarily, a full account of which has been published. The Mexicans after a time withdrew and went into camp at a point about 1 mile distant, between San Jacinto River and a small bayou. During the afternoon the Mexican Cavalry engaged our Cavalry between the two armies in quite a lively skirmish. In this engagement Gen. W. P. Law then a private soldier, was knocked off his horse and was daringly rescued by Gen. M. B. Lamar. The bravery of General Lamar on this occasion was highly commended by General Houston and his popularity and promotion followed this incident. The night was spent in expectancy, both armies being supposed to be ready for action. The hungry soldiers of Houston's army made the best they could by catching crabs. However, this supply was only sufficient to whet the appetite of the soldiers.
The following day, the 21st the morning was spent anticipating an attack from the Mexicans. They in the meantime were building breastworks. Commencing near the point of timber next the river, brush was used, then blankets and apparatus, pack saddles and camp equipage for some distance into the prairie, which sufficed for the protection of the entire army. Their cannon was planted near a little tree at the southern end of their breastworks, some distance out in the prairie. About noon Cos' division, about 600 strong, reinforced Santa Anna. Houston dispatched Deaf Smith to burn the bridge over Vincents Bayou and made arrangements to attack Santa Anna. About 3 o'clock in the evening the army advanced to make the attack, with Sherman's division to the left next the river, Burleson's in the center, Willard's to the right, and Lamar's Cavalry on the extreme right. The Twin Sisters were next to my company in Burleson's regiment. The march was at a rapid pace from start until we were within about 400 yards, when the command was given to double quick. The Mexicans opened fire as quick as we came in sight and continued by platoons. We ran up within 80 yards and halted and at the command "each get your man" we fired, and nearly decimated their ranks. Our aim was effective and the distance so close our fire carried death and dismay to the Mexicans. We were yelling at the top of our voices "Remember the Alamo," "Labadie", etc. We carried the rifle balls in our mouths and loaded our flint-lock rifles with great rapidity. After our first deadly volley the Mexicans became demoralized and commenced retreating. The officers tried in vain to rally them, but each succeeding fire did such destruction that the officers' efforts were in vain and a general stampede ensued.
After this every man in our Army, so far as I was able to judge, was his own commander. We followed them across the boggy run, which was so full of dead we crossed without miring, stepping from one to another. We continued pursuit of them down to the neck of land between San Jacinto River and McCormick Lake. When many tried to swim across the run to the marsh on the other side. Our deadly rifles and unerring aim ended the existence of all that made the attempt; but few of those remained to tell the tale. The Cavalry to the extreme right captured most of the prisoners. The firing continued until nearly night. The estimated number killed was about 1,500. In answer to our yell, "Remember the Alamol" "Remember Labadie" the Mexicans would say, "Me no Alamo" "Me no Labadie" but the memory of those recent butcheries were too fresh in our minds and the excitement of the occasion was not such as to arouse our sympathy.
We returned through the Mexican camp after our pursuit and witnessed large quantities of beef stewing in large iron kettles, which was very tempting to our hungry and almost famished Army, but a rumor became current that it had been poisoned and we foolishly let it alone and went hungry. It has been stated that Deaf Smith ran down the lines shouting that "the bridge was burned, fight for your lives." Nothing of the kind occurred. The only man who rode down our line during the time of the advance was Colonel Somerville, who bore in order from General Houston, shouting, "Passed the word to Sherman to hurry up his command." When we commenced yelling nothing was audible but such words as "Go it, my, brave boys." Officers as well as men were doing execution and the result tells the tale.
After visiting the grounds with my old comrades, I will give you some other data that may be of interest to some of your readers. I hope the good people of Houston will render our committee the necessary facilities to visit the battlegrounds and consummate our mission. We want to present the matter to the legislature in a tangible and businesslike way and have no doubt that the purchase will be made and an appropriation requisite to beautify the same.
July 5, 1894. ON HISTORIC GROUND---VETERANS' VISIT TO SAN JACINTO BATTLEFIELD---THE TRIP DOWN BUFFALO BAYOU---REMINISCENCES OF THE FAMOUS BATTLE AND OF ITS CHIEF ACTORS---LOCATING THE BATTLEFIELD
The battlefield of San. Jacinto. What a flood of memories of other days and other men the sight of that famous spot must have awakened in the bosoms of that little band of survivors of the battle who viewed it yesterday. With one exception not one of them had been to the battlefield since the day after that famous engagement in which Texas at one lump attained her independence and the men who fought there carved for themselves a monument in American history more lasting and resplendent than either marble or brass. The object of the visit to the battlefield by a committee of the survivors of the battle was in obedience to a resolution passed at the Waco meeting of the Texas veterans to designate the exact location of the battle and gather other data with a view to a purchase by the State of this famous ground. Through the generosity and thoughtfulness of Maj. James Converse, who offered the use of his swift and beautiful steam yacht, the Boston, the veterans were enabled to make the trip with comfort, ease, and pleasure.
In connection with the trip of the veterans, San Jacinto chapter, Daughters of the. Republic, which organization has taken the initiative in the patriotic work of attempting to rescue from vandalism all the sacred spots in Texas history, had arranged for a general excursion. The general excursion left an hour later than the Boston with its load of veterans, and it proved to be a popular idea. It was in charge of Capt. John H. Gray and the steamer Eugene, with barges in tow, was crowded with excursionists. The Boston left its wharf at the foot of Fannin Street with the following on board:
Col. James M. Hill, of Austin, chairman of the veterans' committee to visit the battlefield; L. C. Cunningham, of Waelder, J. W. McHorse, of Leander, Williamson County, J. W. Winters, of Big Foot, Frio County, J. M. Harbour, of Killeen, Bell County
Memoirs of Alphonso Steele, the Last Surviving Active Combatant on the San Jacinto Battlefield (died 1911 Mexia). I was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, April 9, 1817; lived there until I was seventeen years old. I had nothing there, and decided I would start out for myself and make something; so I left Kentucky in September, 1834; went down the Mississippi river on a boat, and landed at Lake Providence, La., where I hired to a man by the name of Richardson. I worked there until November, 1835. I then joined Captain Daggett's company of volunteers and started for Texas; crossed the Sabine between Christmas and New Year; marched straight on to Washington on the Brazos river, which was then headquarters for the Texans. We disbanded when we reached Washington, because Texas had not yet declared her independence. Part of the company remained in Washington; some went back home. I remained in Washington until independence was declared. I will say right here that I hired to a man named Roberts, who ran a hotel. I ground corn on a steel mill to make bread for the men who signed the Declaration of Texas Independence.
A small body of men under Joe Bennett came along. I joined them and started for San Antonio to join Travis. We got as far as the Colorado river; there we got news that the Alamo had fallen. We then moved down the river and fell in with Gen. Sam Houston, close to Beeson's Crossing on the Colorado. There the different squads were organized into companies. Captain Bennett was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, and James Gillespie was my Captain; Mat Finch, First Lieutenant. Colonel Sherman was our regimental commander. We stayed here two or three days and then took up our line of march for the Brazos. We went into the Brazos bottom right opposite Groose's and camped on a lake and stayed several days. Santa Anna was following us all this time, and he camped at San Felipe, which was a few miles below us. Houston had spies out on the opposite side of the river, watching his movements. These spies reported to Houston that about 1000 of the Mexicans had struck out across the county toward Harrisburg. We were ordered to prepare to march. We crossed the Brazos at Groose's in a small boat called the "Yellowstone." We marched on to Harrisburg, going down Buffalo Bayou on the north side. Santa Anna had gone on the south side.
When we reached Harrisburg we learned that Santa Anna had burned the town and gone on. We camped right opposite Harrisburg, and when we camped Deaf Smith dropped on our trail and captured a Mexican courier. From him we learned that Santa Anna was ahead of us. We left a guard behind at Harrisburg to protect the women and children and property, and Mr. William P. Zuber, now living in Austin, Texas, was a member of the guarding party and was thereby prevented from being in the battle of San Jacinto. We crossed the Bayou as fast as we could, for we had but one little old leaky boat to cross in. There we got on Santa Anna's trail and followed it until after we crossed Vince's Bayou, marching all night. We quit Santa Anna's trail when we crossed Vince's Bayou we turning north, he east. About sun-up we were halted to get something to eat. About the time we got our fires kindled and some beeves shot down, the scouts came dashing in and said the enemy were just over the ridge. We were immediately ordered to arms and to move on. We camped on Buffalo Bayou, just above the junction of the San Jacinto river and the Bayou. Some more beeves were driven up and killed and we went to cooking and eating.
There was a body of Mexicans in a little grove about 300 yards northeast of us, who kept up a constant fire on us all the time we were cooking and eating, but they did no damage. Two of our men slipped out through the grass to see if they could get close enough to shoot them. They discovered a little sail boat sailing up the bayou. They hid in the grass and waited until it got even with them. They then rose up and ordered them ashore. They saw it was manned by Mexicans, who jumped out on the opposite side and swam ashore and left the boat. One of the men gave his gun to his comrade and swam in and steered it right up to our camp. It was loaded with flour, meal and salt. Houston placed a guard over it and sent the surgeons in to see if it had been poisoned. They pronounced it all right; so it was issued out to us. This was the first bread we had had in some time. We had left our cooking utensils at Harrisburg, so we had nothing to cook bread in. We made it up in tin cups and roasted it in the ashes or rolled it on sticks and cooked it that way. We feasted that day---the 20th.
In the evening Sherman took what cavalry we had and gave their cavalry a little skirmish and got one man wounded. He crowded them so close that the Mexicans put their infantry out, and consequently we were ordered out in battle line. Sherman had orders to not bring on a general attack, so he withdrew. Then we rested easy until after dinner on the 21st. About sunrise on the 21st Santa Anna received about 500 additional troops under Cos. After dinner on the 21st we received orders to prepare for battle. We advanced in the following order: Houston, with artillery in the center, the cavalry on the right and Sherman on the left. The Mexicans had thrown up breastworks out of their baggage about one hundred yards south of a point of timber, where they had stationed their artillery. Santa Anna's right wing was placed in a thick grove of timber. When we got up pretty close, General Houston sent word to Colonel Sherman to attack this position. We were ordered to move forward and hold our fire until orders were given. When we got up within sixty or seventy yards we were ordered to fire. Then all discipline, so far as Sherman's regiment was concerned, was at an end. We were all firing as rapidly as we could; and as soon as we fired every man went to reloading, and he who first got his gun reloaded moved on, not waiting for orders. I got my gun loaded and rushed on into the timber and fired again. When the second volley was poured into them in that timber they broke and ran. As soon as I got my gun loaded again I ran on a little in front of our men and threw up my gun to shoot, when I was shot down. Dave Rusk was standing by me when I was shot. He told some of the men to stay with me, but I told him, "No, take them on."
One of our own men in passing asked me if he could take my pistol, but by this time I was bleeding at the nose and mouth so I couldn't speak; so he just stooped down and got it and went on. After laying there awhile I managed to get to a sitting posture and drink some water I had in a gourd. This stopped the blood from coming from my nose and mouth. While I was sitting thus one of our men who had been lying behind came along and asked me if I was wounded. I told him I was, and he said, "I will stay with you, then." I told him, "All right; please go and bring me a gourd of water." While he was gone after the water I got up to see if I could walk. I had lost so much blood when I had walked five or six steps I got blind and couldn't see. I sat down by a little sapling. After sitting there a few minutes I could see again. About this time the fellow got back with the gourd of water. Just as he went to hand me the water a couple of Mexicans came running toward us. I suppose they had hid in the grass until our men had passed, and were now running back to get out of the way. When they got in about twenty steps of us they saw us and threw up their hands and began to "jabber" something. I said to the fellow with me, "Shoot one of them Mexicans." He said, "I can't do it; they want to surrender." I said, "I don't want any more prisoners; hand me my gun and I will shot one of them.' He handed me my gun (which was lying where I had fallen) and I shot one of them down; the other ran off. The fellow said, "It won't do for us to stay here in this timber." I said, "Well, you can go; I can't." "I will go and get you a horse and carry you out," he said. He went and got a horse and carried me out and put me among a lot of dead Mexicans. I was so blind I could hardly see anything and I sat down on a dead Mexican. While I was sitting there some of our regulars who had stayed at the Mexican breastworks and were sticking their bayonets through the wounded Mexicans came along and one of them had his bayonet drawn to stick through me, when Gen. Tom Green, who belonged to the artillery corps, stopped him. Then I was put on a horse and started towards our camp. No one went with me, but the horse carried me in all right. That night I was carried across the bayou to De Zavalla's residence, which he had given up as a hospital.
My Experience in the Hospital
Drs. Phelps and Reagan put me on a pallet on the floor and took my shirt off and tore it up and made a bandage and put it around my body under my arms. The next day my body was swollen and hurting me. I told the Doctor it was too tight. "Let it alone; it will have to stay there," he said. I took my knife, cut it off, threw it on the floor, and said, "Doctor, there is your bandage." He put another one on. I told him if he put it on tight like the other one I would cut it off. My diet was crackers and sweetened vinegar. They fed me on that until I got so weak I couldn't get up. I came to the conclusion that they would starve me to death if I didn't get something to eat. There was a fine garden there and plenty of vegetables in it. Thomas Johnson waited on me. I asked him every day what they were cooking. He told me on this day they were cooking cabbage. The doctors took their meals upstairs, but they had to come through the room where I was to get up there. As Dr. Phelps passed through on his way to dinner I asked him if I couldn't eat a few cabbage. He said, "No, not a bite." When Johnson came in with my crackers and vinegar I said, "The Doctor says it will not hurt me to eat a few of those cabbage, Johnson; so bring me a few of them." He brought the cabbage, and just as I finished eating them the Doctor came down. When he saw what I had been eating, he said, "Have you been eating cabbage?" I said "Yes, I have just finished eating a pretty good mess." He said, "yes, and you will be dead by night." "I reckon you'll be glad of it," I said.
My nurse kept trotting in and out all evening to see if I was dying, but instead of dying I felt better than I had felt in a good while. I had now got myself to where Johnson wouldn't believe me. He told me they were cooking beans the next day. I wanted some of those beans, but didn't know how to get them. I said, "Johnson I want you to be in the room when the doctors go up to dinner. When they came in I said, "Doctor, those cabbage didn't hurt me; may I have some beans today?" "I don't care what you eat," he said. "Thank you, sir," I replied. From then on I had a little of anything they had to eat, and I was soon able to get up. Some time after this I, with several others, was moved down to Perkin's Island. Among the party was a wounded Mexican officer. Dr. Reagan went with us. We were here quartered in a house with side rooms on each side. I was placed in a room on one side and the Mexican on the other side. When we got there my wound was hurting me so I told Johnson to take off my shirt and see what was the matter with it. (The Doctor had been staying with that Mexican and neglecting Tom and myself for several days.) "Go tell the Doctor to come here and tell me what to do." He sent word back for me to come in there.
"Put same red precipitate on it, Johnson; may be it is proud flesh." Johnson put it on and then put my shirt on. I had traded a few days before that for a derringer pistol. I got my pistol and put it under my pillow and lay dawn and waited. I thought he would pass out that way. After a little while he came along, and as soon as he stepped into the room I drew the pistol and told him to stand or I would kill him. I told him of all his meanness, and after I got through I said, "Now you go, dog, and never speak to me again." A few days after, he sent Johnson in to see me to try to make it up. I told Johnson to tell him to remember what I told him, and I had nothing more to do with him. Two or three weeks after this, John Tom and I, both being able to travel, we left. We crossed over in a canoe to the north side, where we struck a well-to-do farmer, and Tom bought a pony and I gave my derringer and a little money for one, and we started to Washington bareback. On our way we had to pass by Donahue's. We had got out of bread, but we had meal; so we went to Donahue's to get a skillet to bake some bread (old man Tom Tumblestone [Tumlinson ?], John Tom and myself). Donahue asked me where we were from. Tumblestone told him we were from Houston's army. "No," said Donahue, "no such men as you can bake bread in my skillet."
Tumblestone threw his gun on him and would have shot him if he had not jumped back into the house. The cause of Donahue's behavior as above related was due to the following incident, which occurred on our march down before the battle, the first night after we crossed the river:
The army was marching through a lane which passed in front of Donahue's house. General Houston was in front, and just as he got opposite the house Donahue stepped out on the porch and said, "General, I don't want you to camp on my land or cut my timber." General Houston said, "All right. Mr. Donahue, we'll not cut your timber." He then turned to the men in front and said, "Make a gap in the fence by taking out two panels." They did so, and he then said, "Forward, march, and follow me!" He marched around the fence enclosing the house, and by the time he got back to the gap the whole army was inside the enclosure. Houston turned to his men and said, "Mr. Donahue does not want you to cut his timber, and if any one cuts a tree I'll punish him. Take the rails from that inside fence, but don't break the outside fence." So they took the rails and made fires. This, of course, made Donahue mad, and he stepped back in the house and gave expression to his feelings in very strong language. After supper some of the boys proposed that they have a dance. "All right, if we can get the ladies." A dozen or more families were camped near, so some of the boys were sent to see if the ladies would come, which they agreed to do. While we were waiting for the ladies to get ready some of the boys went to see Mr. Donahue and said "Mr. Donahue, we want you to move the furniture out of one of the rooms; we are going to have a dance here." "I'll not move a (using a very strong adjective) thing." "All right, we'll move them for you." So they took everything out of one of the rooms and piled it up in the hall. It was a double log house with a hall between. They danced nearly all night. I leave you to imagine how well Donahue enjoyed it. It was still fresh in his memory when we went to borrow the skillet. But I'll resume.
After Donahue refused to lend us his skillet, we started on to Washington. When we reached Washington I met an old man by the name of Lott, whom I had been acquainted with before I went into the army. He was keeping hotel there. He told me to make his house my stopping place as long as I wanted to stay, and it shouldn't cost me a cent. The next day while at the dinner table there were seven or eight men there. They got to talking about a pony which was loose in the bottom. They were describing it in a peculiar way, and every fellow was describing something peculiar about it, though several of them, like myself, had never seen it. After they had described it in nearly every way possible I said in a spirit of fun, "And a bobtail." A man by the name of Cloud took exceptions to what I said. After we had finished our dinner he and some of the others went into another room, and I heard him ask who I was. They told him it was a fellow by the name of Steele, "Well, I'll Steele him when he comes out here," he said. When I walked out he commenced, and I told him I had intended no insult in the remark I had made, but if I had insulted him I was sorry for it. "You had no business putting in your jaw," "My jaw is my own, and I'll put it in when I get ready," I replied. "Shut your mouth or I'll cut your liver out!" "Cut away." I said; "you will never make me shut my mouth. Why didn't you jump on some man here who was able to fight you---you knew I was a cripple." About this time a man by the name of Shepherd stepped out of the dining room and said to Cloud, "You just shut your mouth or I'll mash it for you." That settled him; he had nothing more to say.
I had a friend by the name of Neil, who came to this State with me, who at this time was clerking for Wood & Steele of this place. I went to him and said, "Neil, have you got a pistol?" "Yes," he said. "Well, I want you to lend it to me for a few days while I am here; I am not able to help myself." "All right," he replied. He got it and loaded it up. After he got it loaded he said, "I am not going to let you have this pistol; there is something the matter." "No," said I, "there is nothing the matter." "I know better. I know you too well for that,' he said and stuck the pistol in his pocket. "Now tell me what's the trouble." I told him. He said, "Come and go with me." We found Cloud in a saloon. Neil walked up to him and abused him and wanted to know why he had been "abusing this boy." Cloud apologized, begged, off and asked my pardon and wanted to be friends. I replied, "No, sir; you would not accept my apology, I'll not accept yours." I never saw him any more.
On September 28, 1838, I was married, in Montgomery County, to Miss Mary Ann Powell; moved to Limestone County in the fall of 1844 and have lived here since. My wife died in 1904. There are living in my family five generations extending through the male line, and my descendants number about 250, most of them living.
ALFONSO STEELE. Last Survivor of the Battle of San Jacinto.
Under Four Flags on Texas Soil
By A. Garland Adair, Editor The Mexia Daily News
In speaking to the point that it is well for men to express themselves in terms of brotherly love and gratitude of their fellow citizens, while such citizens are in the land of the living, when they may enjoy the beauty and fragrance of the flowers given them, one of Mexia's leading business men recently declared that "Although money talks, Apple Sauce sure goes a long way." So in paying these feeble tributes to Hampton Steele, Limestone County's eldest native son and one of the oldest living native Texans, the eldest son of the last survivor of the Battle of San Jacinto, it is with the idea of letting him know that he and his like are appreciated---sincerely appreciated---by the great-great grand children of the sons of Texas revolution and by those who have joined hands with them in the development of the matchless resources of the imperial Lone Star State. Amid the rapidly vanishing evidences of pioneer life in Texas, where the bloody tomahawk has been forever buried and the hand of the savage forever stilled, it is inspiring to grasp hands with members of that great citizenship who amid the fires of experience and in the crucible of human trial gave Texas her glorious past and had a part in laying broad and deep the foundation stone of a great commonwealth. Whatever future Texans face today, however bright and challenging it may be, it is made more promising still because heroes of war and heroes of peace have here struggled and sacrificed, lived and loved.
Hampton Steele is a member of an illustrious family whose genealogy has few contemporaries. One has to look closely and question many before he finds a son of a father who fought for Texas independence and for Texas glory against "the Napoleon of the West". When one such is found, it is well to pause to do honor to his valiant life and to glean from him the treasures of an experience whose luster will never fade. Since 1836 changes are visible on every hand. In a short while Texas will stage her Centennial Celebration. During this century, now nearly gone, the years have left their impress upon every rock and mountain brow; seared their irregular channels upon manhood's cheeks; scattered the frost of age upon manhood s locks; obliterated the tints of health and dashed the beauty of youth; effaced family records and army rosters; marred our monuments and our statuary, and relentlessly gnawed epitaphs from sacred stones marking the sacred earthly resting place of our dear dead. But the Texas of today has waxed in strength and in glory. High and lifted up, her unstained banner humbly waves commanding the attention of the world and challenging her people to greater achievements. Texas is first in domain, first in agriculture, first in live stock and kindred products, first in exports and is destined soon to become first in population of all the forty-eight states in the Sisterhood of the Union---the real Empire State of America. Amidst the battle of peace, now being waged with churches rather than cannon; with books rather than with bayonets, such sturdy sons as these who fought on San Jacinto's crimson fields, and their sons---aged though not infirm, bid Texans to cut all bridges behind the enemy and not be satisfied with his retreat but exact his complete surrender.
Limestone County is proud of Alfonso Steele and his children. To them, and to their kind, this citizen owes its claim to having had a part in making Texas free. The living children are Hampton Steele of Thornton, Rado Steele of Mexia, Alonzo Steele of Lovington, New Mexico, Mrs. T. Bennett of Mexia and Mrs. Alice Eubank of Houston. Though born in 1839, under the Republic of Texas, now in his eighty-sixth year, Hampton Steele, is hale and hearty, in love with life and active in its affairs. He has lived under four flags and did not have to move out of the State to do it. He was born in Montgomery county, Texas, then known as Robertson Colony. In 1844, his parents moved to Limestone county and here he has resided ever since. At that time, there were only thirteen families living in Limestone county. The nearest mill was located fifty miles away at Old Franklin and, as a boy, Hampton took corn there to have it made into meal. Hampton Steele has watched the development of schools in his county with growing pride. He attended the first school in the county which was a subscription affair and which lasted only eight or ten weeks a year. He has 14 living children, 3 dead; 55 grandchildren, 56 greatgrandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren. So far as is known, he is the only living Texan who had a great grandson in the late world war---Walter A. West. Three of his children were born during the war between the States, his first marriage being in 1858. Mr. Steele enlisted in the Confederate Army, in Sweet's Regiment, at Old Springfield, in 1862. His first vote was recorded in 1860, and while in his twenty-second year, he went away to war. In 1862, when he was crippled, while with his regiment on the Arkansas line, though not in battle, he received his discharge and returned home. In 1864, after recovery, he joined Ford's command on the Rio Grande and was in the campaign which wrested Brownsville from Federal soldiers.
He was married three times. By the first union 5 children were born; by the second, 4; and by the third, 8---a regular Rooseveltian family. Both of his brothers, Rado and Alonzo, were wounded in the war between the States and are interesting characters who gather annually with great loving throngs at the Old Joe Johnston Camp of Confederate Veterans near Mexia to live over again days gone but not forgotten. In the Summer of 1925, while visiting relatives in Lubbock, The Lubbock Avalanche told of the presence of Hampton Steele and his great-grandson, Walter A. West. The following is an excerpt from the article:
"When Mr. Steele arrived here two weeks ago, he found that his great-grandson, Walter A. West, had arrived in Lubbock just a few weeks previous, from Camp Bowie, where he had been honorably discharged from service in France. Young West was among the first who enlisted for service and was placed in training at E1 Paso, later sent to Camp Bowie and after about twelve months training, was sent overseas with the 167th Infantry of the famous Rainbow Division and participated in some of the biggest battles of the European war, taking active part in the famous drive in September on the Argonne front and was also in the battles of St. Mihiel, Verdun and Meuse. He brought back a splendid record and a load of souvenirs. Mr. West is a grandson of Mr. Steele's first child who died in 1887. He is a son of Mrs. Ida West now living in Terry county near Gomez."
"Mr. Steele is the oldest son of Alfonso Steele, who died, July 8th, 1911 at the age of 94 years and three months. Up to the time of his death he was the only survivor of the battle of San Jacinto, and Mr. Steele has in his possession a solid gold medal presented to his father by the Thirty-first Legislature, February 10th, 1909, as one of two survivors of San Jacinto at that time." A life size portrait of Alfonso Steele graces the halls of the State Legislature at Austin, alongside of other historical characters and near paintings of the Battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. His memory and that of his family survive in the hearts of thousands in his homeland, and will be here enshrined long after portraits fade acid paintings perish.
The 14 living children of Hampton Steele are scattered in various parts of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Their addresses are:
John D. Steele, born in 1861, living at Altus, Okla. H. A. Steele, born
in 1863, living at Altus, Okla.
P. P. Steele, born in 1867, living at Altus, Okla.
Alice Sparks, Thornton, Texas.
L. C. Steele, Brownsville, Texas.
Thomas Steele, Altus, Okla.
Bernard Steele, Altus, Okla.
Beulah Lott, Thornton, Texas.
Gertrude Rogers, Plainview, Texas.
Alvin Steele, Marlin, Texas.
Lottie Winter, Lubbock, Texas.
Mrs. Bertie Chisholm, Altus, Okla.
Ethel Steele, Lubbock, Texas.
Lease Hayworth, Altus, Okla.
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People & Demographics
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
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