SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS
Memoirs of Early Texas
José María Salomé Rodriquez set down his memoirs shortly before his death on 22 February 1913 which were published afterwards by the family and again reprinted in 1961. Friend of the family, Leonard Garza, who helped prepare the memoirs for publication stated "Judge Rodriquez was the type of the best element that helped to make this country. He was by birth and education a gentleman, and his whole life was devoted, as were those of many of his ancestors, to the service of the country. He believed that the making of money and accumulation of a fortune was secondary to the service to his country and to the community in which he lived." Judge Rodriquez was born in San Antonio on 29 Oct 1829. His father was Texian patriot Ambrosio Rodriquez (m. María de Jesús Olivarri) whose father was Manuel Ignacio Rodriquez (b. 1778; m. Antonia Courbiere), both of whom were born in San Antonio. J. M. Rodriquez was judge of Webb County for 35 years.
My earliest recollection is when I was a boy about six years old. One evening I was coming with my father and mother up Soledad Street, where the Kampmann Building is now, and as we got a little further up the street, we were stopped by a sentry and there were other soldiers there and we saw some breastworks there. General Cos, the Mexican general, my father told me, was in possession of the town. We went a little further down where the present corner of Travis and Soledad Street is. We crossed a ditch on a plank and went up Soledad Street to see my uncle, Jose Olivarri. I heard a great deal of shooting towards the Plaza and my father said that General Burleson of the Texas Army was trying to capture the city. The next day General Cos capitulated and was allowed to take his arms and leave the city.
Ben Milam was killed at the Veramendi House. The arms the Mexicans had were old English muskets that did not reach much over fifty yards. The Texas army used long range flint rifles. Shortly after that, Colonel Travis was put in command with a small garrison and he stayed at the Alamo. Colonel Travis was a fine looking man of more than ordinary height. I recollect him distinctly from the very fact that he used to come up to our house from the Alamo and talk to my father and mother a great deal, Our house was the first one after you crossed the river coming from the Alamo and Col. Travis generally stopped at our home going and coming. He was a very popular man and was well liked by everyone. My father was always in sympathy with the Texas cause, but had so far not taken up arms on either side.
Soon after this, a report came to my father from a reliable source that Santa Ana was starting for San Antonio with 7,000 men, composed of cavalry, infantry and artillery, in fact a well organized army. My father sent for Colonel Travis and he came to our house and my father told him about this coming of Santa Ana and advised him to retire into the interior of Texas and abandon the Alamo. He told him he could not resist Santa Ana's army with such a small force. Colonel Travis told my father that he could not believe it, because General Cos had only been defeated less than three months, and it did not seem possible to him that General Santa Ana could organize in so short a time as large an army as that. Colonel Travis, therefore, remained at the Alamo, and at the last, Travis told my father, "Well we have made up our minds to die at the Alamo fighting for Texas." My father asked him again to retire as General Sam Houston was then in the interior of Texas organizing an army.
The Mexicans in San Antonio who were in sympathy with the war of Independence organized a company under Colonel Juan Seguin. There were twenty-four in the company including my father and they joined the command of General Sam Houston. My mother and all of us remained in the city. One morning early a man named Rivas called at our house and told us that he had.seen Santa Ana in disguise the night before looking in on a fandango on Soledad Street. My father being away with General Houston's army, my mother undertook to act for us, and decided it was best for us to go into the country to avoid being here when General Santa Ana's army should come in. We went to the ranch of Dona Santos Ximenes. We left in ox carts, the wheels of which were made of solid wood. We buried our money in the house, about $800.00; it took us nearly two days to get to the ranch.
A few days after that, one morning about day break, I heard some firing, and Pablo Olivarri, who was with us woke me up. He said, "You had better get up on the house; they are fighting at the Alamo." We got up on the house and could see the flash of the guns and hear the booming of the cannon. The firing lasted about two hours. The next day we heard that all the Texans had been killed and the Alamo taken. A few days after that an army consisting of about 1200 men under General Urrea came by from San Antonio on their way to Goliad to attack Fannin. I saw these troops as they passed the ranch.
There has been a great deal of discussion with reference to what had been done with the bodies of the Texans who were slain in the Alamo. It is claimed that Colonel Seguin wrote a letter in which he stated that he got together the ashes in the following February and put them in an iron urn and buried them in San Fernando Cathedral. This does not seem possible to me; because nothing of that kind could have happened without us knowing that and we never heard of any occurrence of that kind. Seguin did not return from Houston's army until my father did, both of them being in the same command, my father a first Lieutenant and he a Colonel. It is true that the bones were brought together somewhere in the neighborhood or a little east of where the Menger Hotel is now and were buried by Colonel Seguin, but that any of them were ever buried in the Cathedral, I have never heard nor do I believe that to be true. The only person I know of being buried in the Cathedral was Don Eugenio Navarro, who was buried near the south wall of the Cathedral near the chancel.
Some days after the Urrea army passed, we heard of the massacre of Fannin's army at Goliad. My mother, along with other loyal families, determined then to move to East Texas, and we started with all our goods and chattels in ox-carts. The Flores and Seguin families were among those who went with us. Most of us traveled in the carts. Horses were very scarce, the army taking nearly all they could find. We had gotten as far as the Trinity river on the road to Nacogdoches where we heard of Santa Ana being defeated and all returned to San Antonio, except our family, who went on to Washington, which was the Texas Capital, as my father was still in the field with Houston's troops.
The company which my father [Ambrosio Rodriquez] joined belonged to General Sam Houston's forces and were attached to General Houston's staff. My father and General Houston became very warm friends, which friendship lasted until my father's death, and continued with our family until Houston died. My father often told us the story of the Battle of San Jacinto.
He told us that General Santa Ana picked out 1200 of his best men from his army and crossed the Brazos in pursuit of Houston under the impression that Houston was retreating toward Louisiana, and his main army of about 5,000 men or more remained on this side of the river under General Filisola. Houston discovered all these movements of Santa Ana, and he told his men that he was preparing to fight Santa Ana's advance army. Santa Ana came up within only a few miles of Houston's camp.
One evening Houston sent out a scouting party consisting of my father and others, to reconnoitre. They ran into Santa Ana's scouts and had a little brush. Santa Ana's men had a small cannon, and a cannon ball passed so close to my father's eyes that he was blinded for three or four hours. The next day about two o'clock, General Houston went around and talked to all of his men in camp and he told them, that now was the best time to fight Santa Ana and asked them would they do so, and they all agreed to it enthusiastically. Houston had about 600 men, all cavalry. The next day he prepared for the attack, and my father's company was placed on the left hand of Houston, and he told them that when they got in certain distance to lay down and drag themselves on the ground until they got in rifle shot of Santa Ana's men, who were taking a siesta. As soon as they got in range they let loose a volley into Santa Ana's men. After they had fired, they were afraid to stand up again and load. One of the company, a man named Manuel Flores, got up to load his gun and said, "Get up you cowards, Santa Ana's men are running." Then they got up, loaded their guns and commenced firing again. Santa Ana's men kept on running from the first volley and General Lamar coming up stopped the shooting, and took about six hundred prisoners. Santa Ana's horse was shot about six times. The horse was brought to General Houston and died. General Houston was slightly wounded in the leg.
A day or two after the battle, two of Houston's men went out from the camp to kill some game, and when a few miles from camp, they found a man sitting in an old log house, and they took him prisoner. As soon as they arrested him, one of the men said to him, "Look here, you are Santa Ana." The man denied this and made signs with his hands that he was a clerk; he was a scribe. The men said that as he wore a fine shirt, he could not be a common soldier because the common soldiers did not wear such shirts. They started with him for Houston's camp, but he only walked a few steps and then complained that he could not walk, so one of the men gave him his horse and kept asking him if he were not Santa Ana. One of the men thought he was Santa Ana and the others did not. Soldiers did not wear shirts trimmed with lace, so that surely must be Santa Ana.
He put the man on the horse and led him. When they got near the camp with their prisoner, the Mexican prisoners in the Texas camp began to cry, "Santa Aria, Santa Ana." They took him into camp and as soon as they came to General Houston, Santa Ana said, "General Houston, I am General Santa Ana, your prisoner of war." General Houston said "What can I do for you?" He answered "Give me something to eat, for I am hungry." Then General Houston said to my father, "Rodriguez, you and Menchaca cook a fine Mexican dinner for General Santa Ana." There was not much to cook, but they made tortillas of flour and gave him the best they had in camp.
As soon as he had eaten dinner, General Houston asked him, "Why did you put to the sword every man in the Alamo," to which Santa Ana replied, that according to the rules of war when a superior force demanded unconditional surrender of inferior forces, if not obeyed, they forfeited their lives. General Houston told him that such was a barbarous custom and should not be practiced in these days. Then General Houston asked Santa Ana why all of Fannin's men were massacred. Santa Ana said that he had nothing to do with that; that he was not responsible. General Urrea was in full command at Goliad. General Houston asked Santa Ana then to issue an order commanding General Filisola to retire across the Rio Grande. To this, Santa Ana replied that he was not in command of the Mexican army then, he was a prisoner of war and that General Filisola was the commander and was not bound to obey his orders. General Houston told him to issue the order anyway, and if not obeyed that he, Santa Ana, would not be to blame. He gave the order and General Filisola obeyed and retired. This greatly helped the Texas cause.
General Santa Ana said he wanted to make arrangements for his liberty. General Houston replied, "I have no authority to make such arrangements. We have a Congress and a Provisional Government. We will have to submit that question to them." I omitted to state that Santa Ana, after he had come into the camp and had eaten, inquired if his aid General Almonte was alive and was told that he was alive and he sent for Almonte, who was a good English scholar and who thereafter acted as interpreter. Santa Ana asked for his baggage and it was brought to him. He took out a gold watch and offered it to the soldier who loaned him his horse. General Houston said, "My men cannot take presents." Then they had a long conversation about his liberty, and this conversation between General Houston and General Santa Ana was in my father's presence.
My father said that while Santa Ana was in the camp with Houston, some of the men of his army attempted to create a mutiny and demanded that Santa Ana be executed because of the massacre of Fannin's men and the Alamo. General Houston being wounded was lying down at the time and he rose up and made a speech to the men. "If we keep Santa Ana alive," said he, "We have the liberty of Texas in our hands; if we kill him, we will have the contempt and the odium of the entire world and will lose our war. If you kill him, you might as well kill me." They talked it over and finally agreed to drop the matter. My father was a witness to all of this.
A peculiar circumstance of the battle of San Jacinto is that my father's kinsman, Mariano Rodriguez also took part in that battle, but he was on Santa Ana's staff as Captain.and paymaster, and he retired to Mexico with the Mexican army and did not return until after the Mexican War was over in 1849.
The Mexican troops having departed from Texas altogether, the Texans then organized their government, but a great portion of the army remained in the field, expecting the return of the troops from Mexico. About eight months after the battle of San Jacinto, the company in which my father served was mustered out and he was honorably discharged. While he was still in the army, a brother of my mother's came to Washington and brought us back to San Antonio, and my father after leaving the army returned to San Antonio and went to merchandising.
Two or three days after we got to San Antonio, I went to the Alamo and saw the blood on the walls.
Colonel was then appointed mayor of San Antonio and had charge of the town as to both military and civil affairs. A great many of the Mexicans who were in sympathy with the Mexican Government had fled to Mexico, and others who had been loyal to the Texas cause, returned and helped to establish the civil government. J. D. McLeod was the first Chief Justice and Jose Antonio Navarro represented Bexar County in the first Congress. My father opened a store next to our residence on Commerce Street.
Then came the Vasquez raid at which time I was at the ranch with my father, near Seguin. General Vasquez made his raid in 1841 but only remained here a short time. There was no fighting and he finally left. I am not familiar with the details of that raid.
In 1842, a report came into San Antonio that a band of robbers from Mexico was coming to rob San Antonio. The people then got together and organized two companies of citizens. My father belonged to the company with Capt. Menchaca and they had their quarters in the old court house on the corner of Market and Main Plaza. On the corner of Soledad and Main Plaza, an American named Chauncy Johnson had a company of forty men, all Americans and they composed the divisions to fight against these robbers. As soon as they organized they sent three Mexicans with an escort to meet this band. They met them and it turned out to be the regular army of Mexico, instead of robbers, and they kept them prisoners.
One morning, just before daybreak I heard a gun fired, and woke up and I heard a band of music, playing an old air called La Cachucha. It was the dancing tune in those days. It was very fine music. It was a band of fifty musicians. The firing of the gun was the warning to the citizens that the army was here. As this was the regular army of Mexico, Menchaca's company agreed that they could not stand up against a whole army and withdrew to a safe distance. Chauncy Johnson, however, said his company should not disband, but would fight it out. The army then marched into town. The band was in the lead coming into Main Plaza between the Cathedral and what is now Frost's Bank. Then Johnson's men
turned loose a volley on the band and killed and wounded fifteen or twenty musicians. This angered General Woll, and he placed a small cannon where the Southern Hotel now stands and fired on Johnson's men. Johnson then raised a white flag and the Mexicans took them all prisoners and they finally were sent back to Mexico. General Woll had a fine ball given in his honor by the citizens. After the ball a report came in that Colonel Hays was camped on the Salado preparing to attack Woll. General Woll sent a portion of his men out to the Salado to attack Col. Hays; They fought one day and night but could not dislodge Hays and the next day they retreated towards the Rio Grande. Antonio Perez, the father of the present Antonio Perez now living at San Antonio, who was with General Woll, came at night to our house and told us the army was going to retire into Mexico. While the battle was going on at the Salado, Woll sent a company of cavalry and attacked and killed Dawson's men, who were coming from Seguin to reinforce Hays. They killed and butchered nearly all of them.
After Woll's raid, General Somerville organized a force, and disobeying the orders of General Sam Houston went into Mexico and was defeated at Mier, and all were taken prisoners. Those prisoners were taken into the interior of Mexico, and one of them related to me the whole circumstance. His name was Glascock. He said that they had orders to kill one out of every ten. They filled a pitcher with black and white beans, then the men were formed into line and each man would run his hand into the pitcher and take a bean. Glascock said that when he went up to the pitcher to take his bean out that he was shivering. He ran his hand into the pitcher and got a white bean and was saved. Glascock afterwards started the first English newspaper in San Antonio.
In 1845 the Republic of Texas was annexed to the United States as a state and thus passed away the Republic of Texas.
I was sent to New Orleans in 1842, where I attended the French schools for two years. While there I heard that Henry Clay was a candidate for President. He was opposed to the Annexation of Texas to the Union, but he was a weak candidate and was defeated and Polk was elected on the democratic platform, which favored annexation. After Polk's election, followed the annexation of Texas as a state. Then came the war with Mexico. The United States troops came, a regiment of cavalry and camped on the Salado. They were here for a time and afterwards went into Mexico. After I returned from New Orleans, I went to work in my father's store. The Mexican War, of course settled the status of this government and it then became the same as any other state of the Union and the people became interested in the politics of the United States, of which the leading issue was slavery. In this particular section of the state, there were not many slaves, because r Mexican people as a rule do not believe in slavery.
My family owned some slaves, but we worked them a. as other servants and treated them kindly. I became interested in local politics in 1854 and was elected alderman. My father had been an alderman also, during the term Colonel Seguin was Mayor of San Antonio. Afterwards I was elected assessor and tax collector and served in these offices for two years. The secession question then came to be a burning issue. General Houston was a candidate for Governor on the Union issue and Runnels was his opponent. General Houston made an eloquent speech at San Pedro Park on the Union issue against secession; he was speaking from a small platform erected by the democrats. In his speech, he alluded to the democratic platform and said that he did not believe in platforms. He was a very fine orator, and during his speech he ridiculed the democratic platform and called out, "Platforms will not stand." Just at that moment the platform upon which he was standing fell, and General Houston went through. He continued his speech, although the people could only see his head and shoulders above the fallen stand, and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, you see the democratic platform will not stand." He carried Bexar County by a great majority and was elected Governor by 10,000 or more votes. I saw him inaugurated and carried my sister Carolina with me to attend the inaugural ball, and General Sam Houston did us the honor to invite my sister to lead the grand march at the Inaugural ball. He was a steadfast friend of our family and had a great affection for my father.
Shortly after that, the secession convention was called and I attended it as interpreter for Colonel Basilio Benavides, representative from Webb County. Sam Smith and Jose Angel Navarro represented Bexar County. After the secession was declared and established, Houston refused, to accept it by taking an oath and he was removed from office. His place was taken by Lieutenant Governor Clark. After Houston was relieved from office he went out on the capitol grounds, and before a large crowd, among whom was about 500 of McCullough's men, delivered a most magnificent address. Among other things he said, "You Southern people stand to-day as traitors to your country and your flag and you will regret the day that you made such a move because the United States is a powerful nation and they will get reinforcement from Europe. You will not be recognized as a nation by the world, and have no standing whatever, and it will not be long before you will be paying five dollars a pound for your coffee." This later came true. "You will put up a good fight and then have to surrender. You have no more right to secede than a county has from a state, you are revolutionists, and as I stand here to-day, although I am ready to risk my life for Texas, I hate to see the Texans lose their lives and property."
In the meantime there were shouts from those who opposed him, and some people would no longer listen to his speech. He retired to his home, but the war went on, and everything he predicted came to pass.
I am sorry to say that I cannot recount hairbreadth escapes of my own among the Indians as I generally managed to keep out of trouble of that kind. My duties to my family generally kept me in the city and I did not have an opportunity to mingle with the Indians as freely as those whose duties called them to the country.
I have heard a great many reasons for the name Texas, but I am, I believe, peculiarly in a position to be able to settle that question for I have in my possession a document of the Spanish government dated 1786 which was issued from the then governor of Texas to my ancestor Andres Benito Curvier, which made him a knight of the Spanish crown. In the beginning of the document it sets forth the various titles of the governor and among others is given that of "Capitan De Los Tejas de esta Provincia" which means "Captain of the Tejas of this province" meaning a tribe of Indians. Further along in the same document it gives as one of the reasons for thus honoring my ancestor the fact that he had faithfully acted interpreter in the negotiations with Tejas Indians. Here Tejas in the Indian language explained to me by my father as meaning "round or disc-like metal," and all of the Tejas Indians wore a metal disc of that kind around their necks to distinguish them from the other tribes. My father has told me that he remembers in his youth to have seen many of them thus equipped. It is just one step from Captain De Los Tejas to the word Texas, because J in Spanish is usually pronounced the same as X. Even to this date, most of the Spanish people in Mexico and Texas usually pronounce it Tehas.
The nearest I ever came to being in an Indian affray was in 1841 when a noted fight took place in and around the old court house, corner of Market and Main Plaza between some Indian Chiefs and the Texas military and San Antonio citizens. It was a most unfortunate affair. The people of San Antonio were for a long time thereafter criticized and hated by the various Indian tribes throughout this country, the Indians claiming that they had been treacherously dealt with. I was entirely too young at the time to remember the details, being just twelve years old.
It seems that at various times prior to that, the Indians had taken a lot of white people prisoners and a conference was called by the people of San Antonio with the Indian Chiefs in San Antonio and the Indians were to bring their captives with them. As heretofore described the court house was on the corner of Market and Main Plaza and back of that where the old Market House now stands and beyond was a large corral in which as a rule the sheriffs, soldiers and rangers penned their horses. A little jail was also in the back there. About twenty-five Indian warriors came in for this conference accompanied by their squaws and papooses and they camped in this corral. The Indian warriors attended the conference with the civil and military authorities in the court house. A great discussion took place there and the Indians were upbraided by the citizens for failing to keep their promise and bring their captives.
The local authorities then insisted that part of them should go back and leave one half dozen of their chiefs there as hostages until they brought back the captives. This discussion was going on when I slipped into the court house with one of my cousins about my age. I saw my father there and other citizens. While this discussion was going on, I looked from the East windows towards the old Market House and saw Major Howard who was in command of the troops with about twenty soldiers, cutting off the retreat of the Indians from the rear. One of the Indians saw that, and they began to talk very fast and looked excited. The interpreter then came down from the platform where they were all seated and said, "I am going home, the Indians are mad." Things were looking a little squally when my companion insisted that we should leave. We got out and when we got into Market Street; we began to hear the guns firing and then we ran into Commerce Street and got into the house of Don Antonio Baca where we took shelter. It looked as though there was fighting going on all over town. We finally managed to get home. My mother was very uneasy for she knew my father was at the court house. He finally got home and told us just what occurred after I left. It seems while he was in the court house acting with the other citizens, some one called out to my father that the man with the robe around him had a bow and arrow under his robe. My father then jerked the blanket away and found the bow and arrow fixed. He took it away and then the soldiers fired on this Indian and kept a general firing up and all of the Indians were killed. Major Howard was slightly wounded by an arrow. The next day the commanding officer of the troops went to the camp of the squaws back of the Market House and informed them of the death of the Indians and asked if any of them would volunteer to go out and bring in the captives and when they had done so the squaws and their children would be released, otherwise they would be held as captives until the white captives were released. I was present when this conversation took place. A middle aged squaw then volunteered and told the officer that it they would give her, a good mount she would promise to bring the captives in. They then took her to the corral where the horses were, and I remember seeing her pick out a roan horse, mount him and go out of town. A few days after the Indians came to the edge of the city and sent notice in that they were there with their captives. Remembering the fate of their brethren they refused to come into town. An exchange took place at San Pedro Springs and after that it was a little hard to get the Indians to come directly to town.
Various Other Incidents
In the immediate vicinity of San Antonio, there were no wild Indians located. The nearest settlement was at New Braunfels where the Tahuacanos usually camped. They were great horse thieves and would sneak into town and steal horses right out of the corrals at night. When they came here on friendly visits or to trade skins, they usually camped at San Pedro Springs where a kinsman of my father's, Francisco Xavier Rodriguez, had established a trading post. Sometimes they would kill men and scalp them. I remember one day about two o'clock when we were living on Commerce Street, my mother called us to the window and said, "Look, look," and we looked toward the Ursuline Academy and saw two Indians stooping over a man that they had killed. One rode a bay and the other a white horse. At another time I remember an uncle of mine who had married Josefa Curvier was killed on the Salado just outside of town and brought into town with his scalp off. They lived across the street from us. I will never forget that sight.
One time Fernando Curvier, also a kinsman, was going to a fandango on what is now Houston Street and when he passed a little way up Acequia Street, what is now Main Avenue, from the Garza Building, now the Rand Building, he heard a noise but paid no attention to it. He wore a Mexican blanket in lieu of an overcoat as everyone else did in those days and when hp got into the house where the fandango was, he found to his great surprise an arrow stuck in his blanket. He then remembered the noise in front of the Garza Building and they all went together to catch the Indian, but he had gone. My uncle Jose Olivarri and others went out hunting deer on the Leon Creek and in a brush with the Indians out there, was killed. He was my mother's brother and the father of Mrs. A. F. Wulff, of San Antonio. One time the Indians rode into town and taking a man up, whose name I have forgotten, rode across San Pedro Creek. He was kept prisoner for some years and finally exchanged.
Antonio was the son of Col. Navarro and had a little store in San Antonio. He was on his father's ranch in Atascosa County and was taken captive by the Indians. The Indian method of treating prisoners in camp was to strip them of all of their clothing and simply give them a breech clout and in that way prevent their escape to any distance. Antonio was treated just that way, but strange to say, among the Indians in his camp was one who had remembered Antonio giving him sugar at various times from his store in San Antonio. The Indian made himself known to Antonio and told him that he would aid him to escape. One day when a band of the tribe went out hunting, Antonio asked to be taken along. Being a captive he could not have a horse and he chose to ride behind the Indian who had promised to help him. As they were riding along about midnight, the Indian told him to get off the horse and hide in the brush until the Indians had passed. He did so and then struck out for San Antonio. He had no clothes on and came into San Antonio naked as a worm, early in the morning. His family residence was on Camaron Street and Antonio quietly slipped up to his door and knocked. When his wife came to open the door, she cried, "Indians," and slammed the door in his face. It took Antonio some time to convince his wife that he was not an Indian brave but her own husband. Antonio was afterwards made county judge of Zapata County for many years and is now dead.
My cousin Olivarri and I decided one day that we would go to Fredericksburg and we went on horse back and when we were about fifteen miles from there, we saw a number of Indians around us in different places. We did not know whether they saw us or not, but we certainly made time on our horses until we got to Mr. Meusebach's ranch, one of the newly arrived German settlers. We were royally treated and stayed until we thought it safe to go back.
Another curious incident about Indian life occurred after the annexation. Major Neighbors was the Indian agent for the Federal Government and lived at San Antonio. He took several Indian Chiefs to Washington and I remember seeing them when they came back. They came to our house several times. Their dress consisted of nothing but a military coat with epaulettes on the shoulders. They wore no trousers but they had moccasins on their feet. They wore enormous medals presented to them by President Polk. One of them, the head chief, was a very handsome looking Indian. He recited to us some of the doings of the Indians on their voyage to Washington.
Steamboats were just then a new invention and the Indians on their way to Washington took a little steamer and went down Buffalo Bayou. Just as soon as they got on the steamer, a whistle blew and one of the Indians got scared and jumped in the water. It took some time to get him back on the boat. When they arrived at Washington they were visited by all the noted men of the nation and the ladies even entertained them and played the piano for them and gave them cake and other good things to eat.
Francisco Xavier Rodriguez who as heretofore said, had a trading post at San Pedro Springs for the Indians, was on the way one time to go to Guadalupe County, accompanied by a servant, to one of his ranches, but was taken by the Indians and murdered. The servant came right back into town and reported his master's death. The body was never found and the Germans out in that neighborhood claim that his body was buried in one of the fields out there that shows a stone mound. He was the father of Mariano Rodriguez and the grandfather of Thomas A Rodriguez.
My children and grandchildren will hardly suppose that their dignified grandfather was ever engaged in a revolution, but that is a fact. In 1855 when Santa Ana was president of Mexico, Vidaurri organized a revolution against him. Three of us, Sixto Navarro, Pablo Olivarri and I determined to join the revolution and we got some horses and went to Rio Grande City where the head of the insurrection was supposed to be. When we arrived there we were told that Gen. Caravajal was organizing a regiment ten miles below. We were sent there but did not find him but we found Col. Garcia in command and he told us we were welcome to join his ranks. I was made first lieutenant and put on the staff. We stayed about three days on this side of the.Rio Grande. One night we were told to get ready to cross the river and we crossed 150 men in a small flat boat. There were about fifty men on the other side waiting for us. They toll us that Santa Ana's troops of about 600, were about twenty miles down the river. We consolidated our forces and moved to the city of Mier. As soon as we arrived in Mier we got into the middle of the Plaza, and Col. Garcia called to pay his respect to the Alcalde. The colonel said to the Alcalde, "I must have $5000.00 to give to my soldiers and must have quarters and corn for my horses." The Alcalde then beat a big drum on the Plaza to summon the citizens to a conference. That was the custom in those days. Then he assessed each one so much money and in the evening they gave us $5000.00. I was present in the city hall during the transaction.
The soldiers then each got some money and I got $4.00 as my share. In the mean time I had mingled with the people and persuaded them to declare themselves against Santa Ana's government which they did the next day. They then organized a company of fifty men of cavalry of their own and joined our command. The third night they gave us a grand ball. It is true we had no glittering uniforms but we had a good time. We then started out on our march in the direction of Monterey. About four days after that we reached the town of Cerralvo where we went through the same process of getting money and corn that we had at Mier and the people there joined us and augmented our army just as they had at Mier. At this place General De la Garza came from Victoria to take command of our troops. Our orders were not to move as a large force was going to join us. General Garza in few days took all the troops out of Cerralvo and went to meet Vidaurri's army. The meeting took place the next day at Capadero Hacienda. We arrived at four o'clock in the afternoon. Gen. Viduarri and his staff met Gen. de la Garza and his staff, of which I was one. We had quite a confab and they gave us chocolate and cake. Gen. Vidaurri had some, newspapers from the United States in English and I was the only one who could read them so it kept me busy for the next few hours translating the papers to the General. While I was with Gen. Vidaurri, Capt. Zaragoza, who afterwards became a noted general, called on me and asked me if I was Rodriguez of San Antonio son of Ambrosio. He invited me to his tent and we had quite a chat. He was in the infantry of the army and claimed that there was some relation between his family and mine. The forces of Vidaurri then united and moved back, towards the Rio Grande as far as Mier where we heard the report that a large army was near Saltillo commanded by General Cruz. Vidaurri then took his main army and went to meet Cruz and routed him. Gen. Garza commanded about 700 men, with whom I was and remained at Mier. Finally we were ordered to proceed slowly to Matamoros and not to attack without orders. We went from there to the city of Guerrero and Santa Ana's troops were riding towards Matamoros. They went to Reynosa and finally got to Matamoros where thev joined Gen. Woll who was in command there. This is the same Gen. Woll that came into San Antonio after the treaty with Santa Ana. We surrounded Matamoros and laid siege to it. We were there nearly two months before anything happened. The people were in sympathy with us and gave us news of what was going on in Matamoros every day. Finally we heard that Gen. Woll had left his command and gone over to Brownsville. We were told that Santa Ana had left the country and all sorts of rumors were afloat. Matamoros finally surrendered and a committee of citizens came into camp with a white flag and made arrangements with Gen. Garza to give up the town on the condition that the troops would have the privilege of leaving town with all their arms and ammunition except the cannon. I remember the day the city was turned 4er to us. Santa Ana's troops marched out of one end of the town, while we came into the other and took possession of it. We were furnished fine quarters and the cities tens there called to see us. The army was then reorganized. We were given uniforms consisting of blue blouses with shoulder straps and blue pants. In the meantime Santa Ana's army in the interior had been defeated and Juan Alvarez was declared president of Mexico. I remained with the command at Matamoros for six months as first lieutenant but every mail I received letters from my mother urging me to come back so I went back to San Antonio and the next election I ran for collector and assessor of Bexar County and was elected.
Since my experience in Mexico along my own residence on the Rio Grande I have seen many revolutions and it looks as though that country would never be at peace. The trouble with the people of Mexico is with the principal people that own the property. They do not seem to be willing to fight. Each side in a revolution usually hires men to fight for them, who have no interest in the country, but get paid for fighting. It is to be hoped that eventually as the middle and lower classes become better educated, that Mexico will have an army patriotic enough to fight for that country for its own sake rather than for the pay they get. At the present time it seems as though they would have to be governed with an iron hand to prevent absolute destruction of all property. Poor Mexico!
[The above is a reprint of the first 33 pages of the Rodriquez memoirs, the remainder consists of the Rodriquez family genealogy, descriptions of the principal families he knew in early San Antonio and a note on Laredo his home when he died.]
SONS OF DEWITT COLONY TEXAS