Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Second Lieutenant George M. Petty - another view.

George M. Petty was elected Second Lieutenant to the first detachment of Texas Ranger Corps from Mina (Bastrop) Texas, (a.k.a., "Tumlinson's Rangers") by the Provisional Government of the Republic of Texas.  His commission date is reported by various sources as 28-Nov-1835, but the minutes of the proceedings of the Laws of Texas give the date of the vote as 1-Dec-1835.

When the Runaway Scrape began, Captain Tumlinson and the 1st Lieutenant Rogers, with several other men of the unit provided protection for the families fleeing the advancing Mexican Army, beginning at Bastrop. This left Lt. Petty, essentially a supply clerk, in command of the remaining combat unit.

Said unit consisted of spies, or "scouts" in the modern parlance, probing the advancing Mexicans while guarding the rear of Houston's still retreating Texan Army. Their orders were to form with other units behind the main Texan Army.   From correspondence between Sam Houston and Robert McAlpin Williamson (a.k.a., "three-legged-Willie"), Major, commanding the Ranger units, we know that Petty was commanding the unit just before San Jacinto, that his Rangers had captured Mexican soldiers and the unit was keeping a half-dozen of the men out on constant patrol.

(See original, transcribed below:)

April 7th, 1836
To General Houston,
Since writing this morning by Major [Robert] Barr, I realized that I omitted stating to you that one of our spies, Daniel Gray, returned last night. He gives information of a chase given him by a party of mounted men, in number eight, supposed by him to be Mexicans. I think he is mistaken. Five men are still out in the same direction and well mounted and have had time to report. I take them to be a party of your spies that have given chase. In a few hours we will know the truth.
Yours ably,
R M Williamson, Maj .
P.S. Write me [immediately?] upon receipt of this. A Mr. Henry* told me you wished me to come down [to see?] you. I have no acquaintance with this Henry and think you would have written me to that effect if [imploring?]. Williamson 

The dispatch sent from Sam Houston and Thomas Rusk earlier that day and alluded to at the beginning of the one quoted above, indicates for us Sam Houston's rage that some of the prisoners brought in by the unit's spies had been killed in the camp at night by members of the same unit who had gotten drunk (a fact which is, suspiciously, not mentioned by self-promoting unit member Noah Smithwick in his chronicle of those days "Evolution of a State").

Williamson is summonsed to join Houston, which Major Williamson does, and uses as his "excuse" for staying with the Texan Army up through the Battle of San Jacinto in which he fought as a private.  Williamson's reply to Houston includes mention of one unit member, Daniel Gray, as the unit scouts probe the approaching Mexican Army.

In that book, Smithwick also pleads it was circumstance, but not a lacking in personal desire which kept him from action. However, he recollects no instance of one of his brothers in arms' combat death against the Mexicans two days before Smithwick mustered out.

From Gray Joshua

 Joshua Gray was the son of the Daniel Gray mentioned in the Williamson to Houston dispatch, above.  Still, Smithwick is quite disparaging of  Lt. Petty, recounting how Petty tore up his commission in response to a certain private chiding him about how officers would be treated by Mexican forces if captured:

There was an old fellow, John Williams, in our squad, who had been through several revolutions, from which he had derived a holy horror of Spanish methods of warfare, and he so worked upon the natural timidity of our commanding officer, that, he saw a Mexican soldier in every bush. He actually tore up his commission, lest it be found on him, and condemn him to certain death. I cursed him for a coward then; but, looking back at it now and remembering that Houston was bitterly denounced as a coward for pursuing the only course that could have saved Texas, I am fain to confess that what we hotheads sneered at as cowardice in Lieutenant Petty, was really commendable caution. Had Grant and Ward and King been of the same temperament, the lives of themselves and their followers would not have been so uselessly sacrificed. Ignorant of the whereabouts of either friend or foe, knowing that Gaona was behind us, and surmising that Santa Anna was between us and Houston, we had good reason to feel timid.

After the Battle of San Jacinto, George Petty is next seen at San Jacinto auditing and appraising the claim of Moses Davis' shotgun which that solider lost during the battle two days before (audited claim #4293).  Two months later, Petty is still shown in public record as commanding the Ranger Corps, in the absence of the Captain and the 1st Lieutenant.  In July while awaiting the approval of his resignation eventually back-dated to March (Republic audited claim #904 concerning Henry Redfield). One assumes that the intentionally torn commission papers resulted in discipline and thus a "resignation" in March even though he continued to lead the troops up to and beyond San Jacinto.

In August, as Assisting Quartermaster, he is at Cayce's Crossing (likely, "Canes Crossing") on the Colorado near Matagorda (claim #1202).

In October, he is present in Columbia under the same posting of Assisting Quartermaster, when Sam Houston was inaugurated as the President of the Republic (#876).   In December of 1836, perhaps still as assisting quartermaster, George Petty is found in Matagorda appraising damages done to a ship on behalf of R. R. Royall (a man who had been, essentially, the Republic's procurement officer).

At present, I have found no further record of the young Lieutenant.

* Williams probably is referring to either Charles M. Henry or Robert Henry.  Both of those men were present with the Texan Army then with Houston.  Colonel Henry Raguet is another possibility.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Web Research for the Republic of Texas

Here are some of the best sites for web research.  Y9ou can find family or get lost for hours reading whatever you may stumble across:

  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission - Search for documents, images and more here.
  • Texas Republic Claims - This is where you can find documents related to a specific name.
  • TSHA Online - Texas History Online, the entrance page with lots of good links
  • Handbook of Texas Online -  Part of the above, but the search page for the encyclopedia-like handbook.
  • Texas History Links - to primary source documents.
  • Portal to Texas History - It is huge!  The University of North Texas' archive ranging from the big basic stuff to minutia that nobody will ever bother to look for!  They have it. 
  • General Land Office - These records give the survey documents for First-Headright land grants, Bounties, and Donations-- the "keys to the kingdom" regarding being a son or daughter of the Republic.  SAVE THIS LINK!  You will use it often in research and the GLO site makes it very difficult to find.
  • Texas Historical Commission -  Very useful search engine on topics which the Historical Commission has a hand in.  These are the folks who do the bronze markers of historical sites.  The search engine and mapping system is archaic for web standards, but the detail of the date is worth often better here than elsewhere.  For example, the THC will pinpoint historic locations that otherwise are only known by the public as in a general area.

Let me know your favorites, please?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Texas Ranger Gear, circa 1836

Jim Gray provides this fine piece concerning the typical gear carried by the Texas Ranger Corps, circa 1836:

Possibles Bag:
To the upper left is a "possibles bag," a hunting pouch common to black powder shooters.  The bags carried such items as:
  • Balls, 
  • Patches, 
  • Small flask of oil, 
  • Caps/flints, 
  • Ball-starter and Patch knife,
  • Vent pick and sweep. 
Bullet Board:
Beside the Possibles Bag you will see a "bullet board" which hung around one's neck and which held pre-lubed and patched bullets. These were the frontier version of a "speed loader."

Powder-Horn and Powder Measure:
The claw-like object to the right of the bag and beside the powder horn, would be a home-made powder measure for the right amount of powder charge for a given gun. 

Ammo Bag:
Rangers would also carry bullet bags of extra ammo as well as additional ammunition and items in saddlle bags including rag to keep the guns clean.  Black powder guns had to be kept very clean because of the corresivenes and built up residue of the powder.

This is a example of a period artillery sword, a sample of this copy was found at San Jacinto.  Based of Republic of Texas Claims records, Captain J.J. Tumlinson, Jr., is known to have carried a sword while leading the 1st Detachment of the Texas Ranger Corps.

Top Rifle:  
A Kentucky Long Rifle-- an example of early American technology which exceeded that available to the Mexican army.  The Kentucky long rifle, because of the rifled barrel, had a tremendous advantage over smooth bore rifles in both accuracy and distance. American Marksmanship was a valued and prized quality amongst folks on the frontier-- necesary for
defense and for hunting.

Lower Rifle:
The Hawkins Mountain rifle was the next step in technology.  Shortly after the Revolution the Percussion cap ordinance made its way to Texas.  The rife is a little shorter than the Kentucky Long Rife, but was rifled.  The percussion cap technology offered not only the advantage of speed and precision, but also a much more reliable firing.  Gunsmiths did a good business, beginning around 1840, converting flintlocks guns to accept percussion caps.

Shotgun, Double-barreled. 
This model uses a percussion cap, but Flintlocks were used too. Buck Travis, a Calvery Officer at the Alamo, was known for carrying such a gun. Shotguns of the period were muzzle-loaders. Almost every frontiersman had one for hunting, but in the hands of a miltary organization it was a devistating short-range weapon. The shotgun was a favorite weapon of calvary troops (and Rangers) for fighting from horseback beginning with the War of 1812 and continuing through the Civil War.

While most associate the Colt Revolver with the Texas Rangers, that weapon did not come on the scene until after 1842.   These early Rangers supplied their own weapons and those who carried pistols carried single-shot muzzel-loaders  Samples of the flintlock and percussion cap types are shown.

Obviously a short range weapon, the Texas Rangers often carried more than one pistol on their person and / or on their horse.  Edward Burelson was known to have "horse holsters" for his pistols in front of his sadlle.  Pistols during the Revolution were fairly rare.  After the Battle of San Jacinto, captured pistols were prized by the Rangers and orders for more from the states began.  Eventually, pistols became regular issue to both Rangers and Army units.

Tomahawks and Hatchets:
These were often carried by the Ranger. Used for close-quarter fighting, they were well known to the Americans from their previous experience with Indians fights.  Sam Houston placed an order for tomahawks to be supplied to his Texas Army.

Bowie knives, hunting knives, and butcher knives-- any one would do.  Like hatchets, they were both tools and weapons and were most frequently designed and made by local smiths.  Most of these were carried, sheathed in leather at the rear of the belt.  The Bowie Knife can be distinguished by its second edge, short and curved, opposite the main blade.  Many Texans note the irony that Bowie Knives are now illegal in the Lone Star State.

- - - - - - -

James D. Gray, is a Son of the Republic of Texas, US Navy veteran, author and enthusiastic researcher of Texas History (in particular, the 1st Detachment of the Texas Ranger Corps known as Tumlinson's Rangers and of Robert McAlpin Williamson-- "Three Legged Willie--" Major and Commander of the Revolution period Texas Rangers)A third cousin to this blogger, we both share a great-great grandfather, Thomas Gray, and his father, Daniel Gray, as an ancestor.  Daniel, Thomas and Thomas younger brother, Joshua all served in the Tumlinson's Rangers.  Joshua Gray fell, in combat, six days after the Battle of San Jacinto.

Some of Jim's published research can be found online:
From the Handbook of Texas Online: Daniel Gray
From the Ranger Dispatch Magazine: Robert McAlpin Williamson and
the book: Maritime Terror

Editor's notes:
Not pictured, but one major piece of equipment which had to be supplied by any Ranger was his own horse.

In 1836, Texas Rangers with prior military service had that training through Indian fighting, or from the War of 1812.  In either case, the combination of a Kentucky Long Rifle and a horse was a proven successful use of men who had learned to live on the frontier and the Ranger Corps was specifically designed to employ mounted sharpshooters as scouts (spies), trackers and skirmishers.

In units of about thirty, these men regularly engaged the enemy being vastly outnumbered.  Bravery, tenacity and purpose were typical character traits--common traits of family men living on the frontier-- common out of necessity.

-- WCG

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Google Earth Overlay Files (kmz) for Republic of Texas

Here are some overlays for Google Earth.
If you are not familiar with overlays, download and open any (.kmz) files below in Google Earth. The object contained within the overlay will be superimposed over the satellite image in the proper location on the globe.

Bastrop Von Rosenberg Map - Von Rosenberg's 1881 Bastrop County Headright Map Overlay in 9 sections. This is a scan from my own full size print (22,309 KB).

A copy of this map is available at the Texas General Land Office.

Bastrop County Land Survey Headrights -This folder and contents are from a 1929 Map, showing original land grants as well as property owners at the time the map was produced. Source from http://www.txgenweb5.org/txbastrop/map.htm in 22 sections (31,266 KB).

Travis County 1861 Land Survey - A low-resolution image (only 553 KB) of the head-rights of the early settlers in Travis County which is present day Austin. I enjoy noting that the visible-from-anywhere-in-Austin "antenna farm" near the Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) and Lake Austin was on the land originally granted to my great-great-grandfather, Thomas Gray. He immediately traded that headright. It is perfect country club gold course property now, but back in his day, it was worthless for farming and far too remote for a residence (553 KB).

Republic of Texas - Places and Landmarks - Locations of landmarks and places in the Republic of Texas found mentioned in Smithwick, Jenkins, Filisoloa, Urrea, and other period accounts. (8,907 KB)

Cottle Fort Location - a 60' square land feature-- either the remains of the fort or at the very least, very near to the site. (1 KB)

Gotier's Trace - In 1831 James Gotier marked off a trail from the absolute-western-most-frontier town of Bastrop to San Felipe. This "path" overlay indicates the original route of the trace through Bastrop County as of 1899. At that time, the trace was known, locally as "the stage road." The original trace is very near the current roads now in existence. (1 KB).

NOTE: In this part of Texas, there are two principle natural paths. First and most obvious from overhead views such as satellites, are water courses, whether creeks or rivers. Second, and not obvious at all unless one is actually in the terrain, are the flat high-ground deer trails between the water courses. In each case, the underlining limestone is the cause. The limestone is the skeletal remains of ancient coral reefs which were mostly flat. In the case of water courses, these have cut through the limestone leaving canyons consummate in size and proportionate to the water flow. A trail following a water course would typically be a few feet above the water, following the easy grade.

As to the high ground between the water courses-- and many springs exist in the Bastrop area-- the limestone's natural flatness provides a hard surface with little topsoil at the highest points. The great "Comanche Trail" through this part of Texas followed the Colorado River along the cliffs.

The "usual Indian trail" mentioned by Noah Smithwick can be identified by the route of the nearest significant stream from his reference point of Reuben Hornsby's Place. In that case, it is Walnut Creek where it empties into the Colorado River. To confirm this, one can follow Walnut Creek upstream to its headwaters and, in doing so, will find it arrives at the very place where the Texas Rangers in Bastrop had traveled to build a fort (Tumlinson's Fort) to detect Indian movements threatening Bastrop. Over a Century later, US Interstate 35 would be constructed very nearly parallel to this ancient trail. Likewise, the Missouri Pacific Railroad would also follow this feature, just a bit further west.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Early Christianity in Texas with special emphasis on events within the present Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

The Episcopal Diocese
of Fort Worth
Through 1895

[The following is a revision of a seminary paper submitted by me while at Nashotah House in 1991. It was subsequently edited and adapted for use in catechism class, as a hand-out on local Church History using the Christian Formation curriculum as an outline (Section III; part 5). -- W. C. Giles, 16-Mar-2010]

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth contains twenty-three Texas counties1 and one additional municipality2, contains 1,475,431 people3 (which is larger than the populations of the fifteen least populated states) and covers roughly 20,000 square miles. The current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is the Right Reverend Clarence C. Pope, Jr., and the Diocesan headquarters is located in Fort Worth, Texas, the seat of Tarrant County.

Although the Diocese is currently less than ten years old, the history of the Church within its current boundaries dates back to the Spanish explorers who were bringing the Gospel to the Indians as they searched for gold and other riches. The first known such explorer to enter into our area was the successor to De Soto, Luys de Moscoso whose travels took place in the mid 16th century. Five days after crossing the Red River, traveling from the region of Hope, Arkansas, Moscoso and his band fought with the local Indians near Gainesville in Cooke County, the northeastern most county in the diocese. Learning that some of the Indians had indicated seeing other "Christians" farther west -- those of the Coronado expedition -- the Moscoso expedition moved west through the territory. There are five missionaries recorded as being part of this expedition, and their records indicate that five hundred Indians were baptized during their wanderings.4
The next story concerning the geographic boundaries of the current diocese also involves the Spanish explorers. These, as legend has it, were 18th century Spaniards escaping across the area towards the west from hostile Indians. The legend takes place in what is now Palo Pinto County, on the banks of the Brazos River. Claude Beesley, who produced a history of the area tells the story:
The white men reached the river just at nightfall and were able to make the crossing in safety. However, before the Indians could cross in the morning, one of those typical Brazos floods of swirling copper-colored water came down and made it possible for the Spaniards to get away. At a Eucharistic Mass the next day, a priest likened their escape to that of the Children of Israel, who were saved from Pharaoh's hosts by the roaring water of the Red Sea. He stated in his sermon that only the arms of God had saved them, and he re-named the river, calling it Rio de los Brazos de Dios (River of the Arms of God).5
The legend also includes the former name of the river which was supposed to be Rio del Espiritu Santo. If there is any support to the legend, or at least the antiquity of the legend, it may be in a possible connection between the original name of legend and the existence of the town of Santo only a couple of miles from the river. In any case, the folklore certainly substantiates that the Spanish missionaries made their impact on this region of Texas.
The Spanish explorers left the region towards the end of that (the 18th) century. And except for a battle with a French outpost in northern Montague County, nothing else is known of subsequent endeavors. The Spanish concentrated on the southern coastal regions of the state, and the natives in our area apparently had no further contact with Christianity for several decades.

The Episcopal presence in Texas began with Bishop Leonidas Polk, Bishop of the Southwest, unknowingly crossing over into the then Republic of Texas from Arkansas on Saint Patrick's Day, 1839. The area was disputed by Arkansas, but was legitimately Texas soil, but none-the-less was technically under his jurisdiction.6
Bishop George Washington Freeman was elected Missionary Bishop of Arkansas by the 1844 General convention, and was to function over missions in the Republic of Texas7. Up until 1845, Texas (as a sovereign republic since 1836, and Mexican Territory prior to that) was considered to be a foreign mission. It was in the first year that Texas was admitted into Union with the United States that Bishop Freeman made his first visit into this state. However, Neither bishop had wandered as far as the territories which now comprise the Diocese of Fort Worth.
On the first day of 1849, the Diocese of Texas was formally organized at Matagorda on the Gulf Coast -- some two hundred miles from the nearest point to our area. The young diocese would have no impact on our territory for years to come, but would eventually spawn the two missionary districts from which our diocese evolves. The lack of involvement with our area was not due to a lack of interest, but a lack of settlements. To put it in perspective, Fort Worth would not be founded as a frontier outpost against the Comanche Indians until May of this same year. Fort Worth was then, truly "Where the West Begins."
Another impetus for the Church in our area came from an unexpected source. In 1858, Captain R. B. Marcy with a company of soldiers explored the Little Wichita River at the beginning of a search for the headwaters of the Red River. This trip would have taken him through Archer and Clay counties. At the time, there were no white settlements within a hundred miles of this location, but the area was populated by Indians. After his adventure, he wrote that of all the hardships that have come to the Indians at the hands of the white man, that the only reparations that the whites could make would be to bring Christianity and civilization to them. Captain Marcy also noted that to his knowledge, no missionaries had ever visited the Indians that he saw.
Four men would turn down the episcopate in Texas before the new diocese could find a leader. And it wasn't until October of 1859 that Alexander Gregg would be consecrated as the first bishop of the Diocese of Texas. Within a year, Bishop Gregg would visit at least two towns in our territory: Fort Worth and Hillsboro8. We know that Fort Worth had no regular minister at that time.
Hillsboro is in the extreme southeast corner of what is now the Diocese of Fort Worth, and about fifty miles west of an active parish in Corsicana which was also on Bishop Gregg's itinerary. Fort Worth, at the central eastern edge of the area is only thirty miles from Dallas where another parish existed (Saint Matthew's -- now the Cathedral of the Diocese of Dallas). These towns represented the absolute frontier of Texas at the time. For example, in 1857 Clay County, on our northern edge, was created. However, it was abandoned and disorganized in 1860 due to Indian raids. Ten years later, this County was scarcely safe from Indian raids as Chief White Horse attacked and burned Henrietta in 1870. During this same time period, Geronimo attacked a settlement near Bowie (Montague County on the northern edge of the diocese).9
Other sources of hardship were also active at this time. The northern aggression and cessation resulted in a virtual blockade of the Confederate Texas, creating an often desperate situation for thousands of people. The Southern Episcopal Church, in response to the political changes and the necessity of shepherding its own people broke from the Episcopal Church of the United States, and became the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. This, however, resulted in the missionary funds and other monies being denied the Diocese by the Northern Church, thus disabling the church from assisting the growing needs of the people, and temporarily making mission building in our part of the state impossible.
In the 1868 General Convention in New York, legislation was recommended by several diocese (including Texas) to enable the dioceses to divide more easily. The final version of the legislation was unhelpful for Texas in that it included a requirement for a minimum number of clergy in each division which Texas could not produce. The unavailability of clergy had been particularly difficult for Texas, and the Civil War added to the problems of attracting more men to an impoverished diocese which was involved in a civil war and under Indian attack. Bishop Gregg then suggested that legislation be passed to allow a diocese to give back some of its territory to the National Church to be regarded as a missionary diocese (having in mind the western part of the state). The concept was to reduce the size of the diocese so that the clergy in one could more adequately cover the territory, and thus reduce the financial burden of a young and unwealthy diocese in trying to minister to the enormous territory. This matter would not be taken up until the next General Convention in 1871, and then would await taking final passage in 1874. During those six years, the growth in North Texas had incited a more immediate need, and this section too was presented to the General Convention as a missionary jurisdiction.
The legislation passed, and two bishops were elected by the convention to serve the new missionary diocese. Bishop Alexander Garrett was elected and consecrated to serve as the bishop of the Missionary Jurisdiction of Northern Texas

Bishop Garrett was born and raised in Ireland. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all priests, and rectors of the same Irish parish. Alexander was ordained in Ireland, and came to North America at the urging of the Bishop of Columbia who wanted to bring the Church into the areas of Canada where the recently found gold had caused many to immigrate.

It was however, the native Indians in Canada that Alexander Garrett paid the most attention to. He started a school which included eight tribes together, did his best to learn the five different languages of those tribes, organized for their protection when the government wanted to drive them out by violent means, cared for them during a smallpox epidemic. Soon after, he moved his family to San Francisco to tend to the flock there. The Bishop of Nebraska heard him preach there, and invited him to come to his Cathedral in Omaha to be his Dean. In 1874, Garrett was asked to be a "missionary speaker" at the next General Convention. It was this sermon that had such great influence on the Convention which subsequently decided that he was the right man for the New Missionary Jurisdiction.10

The Missionary Jurisdiction of Northern Texas contained at the time only five clergymen (one a deacon), four parishes (of which only three had buildings) and ten missions11. None of the parishes were in our diocese and the portion of this new missionary diocese that would become our own contained the following three missions: Fort Worth (1861), Cleburne (1871), Hillsboro (1872)12. In 1872 the mission in Fort Worth had acquired a regular minister, the Reverend Thompson L. Smith from Virginia, to hold services. These services were held in the Tarrant County courthouse. That same year he was replaced by the Reverend Nelson Ayers.

Saint Matthew's, Dallas was chosen for the Cathedral (127 communicants)13 and the bishop quickly began to organize the diocese. In May of 1875, the first Convocation was assembled and the bishop laid out his plan for growth, which included aggressive attempts to buy land all through the territory while it was cheap, in anticipation of the continuance of the immigration that had created a population boom over the last decade. Bishop Garrett traveled the diocese constantly, keeping close ties with the existing missions and starting new ones. One of his journals mentions preaching in Cleburne for nearly an hour and a half and that the congregation listened with "rapt attention" throughout. On March 17, 1875, the bishop went into Fort Worth. Here he organized the mission mentioned earlier14 in which the Reverend Edwin Wickens was placed in charge. There were ten communicants, and a new wood frame building was erected at the intersection of Bluff and Pecan streets (four blocks east of the courthouse). The Reverend Wickens was paid three hundred dollars each year and lived in the mission building. The railroad had not entered Fort Worth at this time, but the route had already been prepared, which set Fort Worth on the brink of a tremendous population growth from its then current two thousand members. An excerpt from the bishop's journal states:
The telegraph wire points out the course of the future railroad which, more that any other thing is now impatiently desired by Fort Worth.
Fort Worth would only have to wait until July 19th of the following year (1876) for the desire to be fulfilled, when the Texas and Pacific Railroad finally came through. Land was secured in Fort Worth that year for $200.00 and was one hundred feet square. Little did it know that in just over a hundred years it would be considered the Holy See of Anglican Christianity in the Western Hemisphere15.  

The entire region from Fort Worth and west was primarily cattle land. Oil was discovered later, but cattle would continue to be a major industry even until the present. Lands west of Fort Worth would be made up of primarily ranch land, farms and oil production, thereby maintaining relatively sparse populations. The railroad did effect this somewhat by centralizing some of the populations who moved to be near the convenience. An example of this was a town called Eagle Cove near Abilene. Tennesseans decided to settle there, who were from a strong Christian background. In his missionary journeys, Bishop Garrett, we learn from his journals, frequented this community, and a church was built. When the railroad arrived, Eagle Cove soon became a ghost town, losing its entire population to the cities along the rail. From the bishops address to the Convocation in 187616, we learn that Henrietta, Comanche17 and Hillsboro had been visited by Bishop Garrett three or four times each. We are also told that, "Plans for All Saints, Weatherford18 and St, Andrew's, Fort Worth have been drawn." 

He later says,

All Saints, Weatherford, grows apace. The severe taste, generous liberality and persistent zeal of Captain Henry Warren and his co-workers will tolerate nothing but the best material and workmanship. The site on which the building is being erected is probably the finest, at present, possessed by us throughout the jurisdiction.
In August of 1876, the bishop again visited Comanche for three days, and confirmed two people there. His journal indicates that he then left for Brownwood for a day (August 28, 1876), and returned again to Comanche for another day, marrying one couple, and lecturing on science and religion to what he called, "a very large assembly." The bishop was a very energetic man. Three of the six missions/parishes in our area at this time were in need of and actively seeking a priest. These were Fort Worth, Cleburne and Weatherford. The fact that half of the mission in our territory indicate both the difficulty in acquiring clergy of the time; and in particular, the difficulty in acquiring clergy in the frontier. 

The territory of the Missionary Jurisdiction east of Fort Worth had four positions open at this time, but this represented only a third of the number of mission parishes. Bishop Garrett also mentioned in his address at the Convocation that Fort Richardson was effectively managed by the General (Davidson) who was acting as lay reader. Fort Richardson is now known as Jacksboro, the site of a relatively new Episcopal mission, Saint Thomas the Apostle.Later in this same year, the mission in Cleburne (Holy Comforter) became a parish and added a rectory; while a mission in Henrietta was begun (not the Trinity of the present day, but called Saint Aiden's). In September of this year, W. L. Sartwelle was licensed as a lay reader in Comanche to make up for the lack of a regular priest to perform services. Mr. Sartwelle would continue in this role for the nine years until the mission obtained its own priest.
In 1877, Bishop Garrett was traveling the east coast by train to search for funds to help his young diocese. On this travel, he met the senior warden of a small Connecticut parish. The man, John Henry Smith, listened to the bishops stories of the work being done by the Church in Texas, and gave the bishop $500.00. The only stipulation made was that he wanted the money to go for a church to be built in Fort Worth, and that it be named Saint Andrew's. The account of the story mentions that the man claimed the money belonged to his son, but not why the church was to be named Saint Andrew's. It seems likely that there was, somewhere in Connecticut, a young Andrew Smith who must have had several questions of his father. 

In 1878, we find information from the Convocation indicating why the diocese was ailing from lack of clergy. The treasure's report indicated that Bishop Garrett had been paid only $200 over the past three years. The amount was to have been $1,500 for that period. From the previous Convocation, we learn that Bishop Garrett expected that a priest at a mission must be pledged at least $400.00 each year, and that a parish priest was to be paid at least $800.00 (25% more than the bishop himself had agreed to receive!). Therefore, it may very well have been financial hardship which caused the vacancies. The turnover rate was high, having only one clergyman attending consecutive Conventions in each of the last two Convocations. 

Funds notwithstanding, the building of the Cathedral in Dallas continued, and Saint Andrew's, Fort Worth had begun on the last day of December of 1877. The later's progress was attributed by Bishop Garrett to The Reverend T. J. Mackay, the rector of that parish, and to his "zeal and energy" that had made it (except for Saint Matthew's), the finest church in the diocese. Only four and a half months later, the building was consecrated, with 64 communicants under Father Mackay's charge.

Further west, the mission in Comanche first visited by the bishop in 1875 had been growing. In 1886, The reverend Peter Wager was put in charge of the mission, tending to services once a month. A parishioner donated a plot of land for the mission building in the following year, and the building itself erected for about $600.00.
In 1888, the Reverend W. W. Patrick took charge of the once-a-month services, at Comanche, separating his time with his church in Dublin, and missions in Hamilton, Morgan and Albany. The Hamilton mission built their own mission building in 1889, and this mission continues as Saint Mary's, Hamilton. The successor to the Reverend Patrick19 is of particular interest in that it is the son of the parishioner who had been licensed by bishop Garrett in 1877, W. L. Sartwelle. The Reverend Mister W. D. Sartwelle was one of the first native Texans to be ordained into the Episcopal Church. In 1895, the Reverend Patrick returned to the mission now counting 35 communicants, and continued there until his death at the end of the century. 

The original building still stands and is still used by the congregation there. Saint Matthew's, Comanche, is the oldest church building in Comanche County. The mission in Brownwood built a sandstone structure in 1892. The stained glass windows in this church have an interesting story behind them. While the sanctuary of Saint John, Brownwood was being built, the architectural plans were sent to Belgium so that the stained glass being prepared there could be made to size. The original plans came from the New York office, and were being used to build another episcopal church in Tokyo at the same time. Unfortunately, the stained glass for this church was also being prepared at the same Belgium location. The Tokyo church was named Saint Peter's. The obvious mistake was made, and Saint John's windows to this day depict events in the life of Saint Peter. They also contain the word Tokyo in one corner of one of the windows. Presumably, there once was a church in Tokyo named Saint Peter's which had windows depicting the life of Saint John.20

The archives of the Diocese of Fort Worth indicate that Bishop Garrett first came to the unorganized congregation in Hubbard, Texas in 1887. Soon after, the aforementioned Reverend W. D. Sartwelle "cottage services" were begun at the home of Colonel and Mrs. Bodwell E. Wells. The congregation later began to meet in the local Presbyterian church, and it was there, in 1895, that Bishop Garrett performed the first confirmations in Hubbard. The little congregation remained faithful and became an organized mission in 1918.

In 1895, the Missionary Jurisdiction of Northern Texas was divided into the Diocese of Dallas and the Missionary District of North Texas. All of the counties which now make up the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth were included in the new Diocese of Dallas.


1 Wichita, Archer, Clay, Montague, Cooke, Young, Jack, Wise, Stephens, Palo Pinto, Parker, Tarrant, Eastland, Erath, Hood, Somervell, Johnson, Brown, Comanche, Mills, Hamilton, Bosque and Hill Counties.
2Grand Prairie, Dallas County, Texas, which the Diocese agreed to exchange for Denton County which remains a part of the Diocese of Dallas.
3 1980 Census data. Current population is somewhat larger.
4Beesley, Claude A., The Episcopal Church in Northern Texas, Wichita Falls, Texas, 1952, p. 4f.
5ibid, p. 5f.
6ibid. p.10.
7Consecrated on October 26, 1944 by Bishop Philander Chase and assisted by Jackson Kemper and others.
8Beesley, p. 25. If an account of this visitation exists, it is not noted in this source.
9ibid. p.27f.
10ibid. pp.34-46.
11ibid. pp 32,48.
12Murphey, Rev. Dubose, A Short History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Texas, Turner Company, Dallas, 1935; p.130f. Table I.
13Beesley, The Episcopal Church in Northern Texas, p.47.
14ibid. p.52. From this information it is assumed that they were the same mission. Cross referencing to Murphey's Short History, Table I, p. 130ff, it seems apparent that this was the only Episcopal mission in Fort Worth at this time.
15At least it is held so by nearly half of the Nashotah House class of 1994! 
16Although this is the date of the address found in Beesley, it conflicts with other information which would indicate that this material actually was in the 1878 address -- editor.
17From the Comanche Chief, August 2, 1973 edition, we learn that the date of the first visit was September 10, 1875, which quotes from the Bishop's journal. From this we also learn that there were few churchman and that they met in the Masonic College building. The following day, the bishop confirmed six people, and gave two sermons. 
18Established from a mission in 1875.
19Went to care for Saint Andrew's, Fort Worth.
20Smith, Susie, "Historic Area Churches", Central Texas Pride Magazine, Brownwood, Texas, Spring 1985, p.22.
21Formal Mission Organization.

Texas and the REAL First Thanksgiving.

In the last entry, I ended with a recollection of a story told me (or I read) about the naming of the Brazos. Well, as for that story being about the first Christian Eucharist on Texas soil, we have another contender: 1541 in Palo Duro Canyon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Steam Boats of Note

  • Not well known, but a favorite of mine is the Criterion, the steam boat which brought my family from Nashville, Tennessee, as they began their journey to Texas in 1831.
  • The Red Rover, also out of Nashville, took Sam Houston toward New Orleans in 1829 when he exiled himself. In another blog entry, Sam Houston, is quoted recalling an important spiritual event taking place on that boat. 
  • The third is the packet boat, Yellow Stone, which is most famous for its tenacious way of pushing nearer the headwaters of the Missouri River than any other; but is dear to Texans because she was conscripted by General Houston to cross the Texan Army across the Brazos on April 12th, 1836 . 120' side wheeler for fur trade along Missouri to St. Louis, refitted for Cotton Packet Boat in 1835. Twin Boiler, Cypress and Oak. Two decks. Sailed out of Quintana, Texas, on the Brazos to New Orleans. 6' draw, perhaps 100 tons. After San Jacinto, went to Galveston to get President and cabinet, then, with Houston, Santa Ana and 80 Mexican prisoners. When Stephen F. Austin died, Yellow Stone took his body back to San Felipe. The Yellow Stone notes and the notes regarding steamboats, below, may be found, with even more information at :Steam Boat Yellow Stone Aided General Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution
  • A Smaller boat, the 65 ton Laura, on the Brazos.
  • Cayuga, an 88-ton steamboat with a 6-foot draft, out of Galveston. 1837 renamed Branch T. Archer.
  • A fourth boat, is the Ariel, the first steam boat to come to Texas, brought by Henry Austin, in 1829.
I'll need to find the source for this, but since I am on about rivers... The way I remember the story about the Brazos River getting its name was that a tribe of Apache in North East Texas, near Texarkana, had had more than enough of the Spanish explorers. The Apache chased the conquistadors westward until reaching the river. The Spanish managed to cross the river with the Apache in sight and preparing to continue the pursuit. As the last of the baggage was crossed, the rover rose with a flash flood. The Apache decided not to cross and both parties camped across from each other. The Priest (chaplain) asked the commander to allow him to offer Thanksgiving (Eucharist) to God as salvation had come to them in the flood waters as if being wrapped into the (loving) arms of God, "Los Brazos de Dios." The story came to me in the form of a description of the first recorded Eucharist on Texas soil. I like this version best.

A Starter Bibliography

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Raven and Transcendence in Failure

In late April of 1829, his marriage over, his career ruined, Sam Houston's friend wrote of the situation,"sic transit gloria mundi." 

Well, that may have been a bit premature!

Dr. R. C. Burleson wrote this:
General Houston was a firm believer in the augury of birds. He as firmly believed in the divine instincts of the eagle as Romulus or any of the Grecian or Roman philosophers and kings. One night we were discussing the subject until after midnight. Among the many marvelous proofs he gave for his belief, he said:

'When I was going into exile I took the steamboat, [Red Rover,] at Nashville, bound for New Orleans. That boat was delayed at the different landings taking in freights, and the brothers of Mrs. Houston, riding direct across the country, overtook us at Clarksville, Tennessee. They came aboard greatly excited and heavily armed, and said: "Governor Houston, the manner in which you have left Nashville has filled the city with a thousand wild rumors, among others, that you are goaded to madness and exile by detecting our sister in crime. We demand that you give a written denial of this or go back and prove it." I replied: "I will neither go back nor write a retraction, but in the presence of the captain and these well known gentlemen, I request you to go back and publish in the Nashville papers that if any wretch ever dares to utter a word against the purity of Mrs. Houston, I will come back and write the libel in his heart's blood."

'That evening as I was walking on the upper deck of the boat reflecting on the bitter disappointment I had caused General Jackson and all my friends, and especially the blight and ruin of a pure and innocent woman who had trusted her whole happiness to me. I was in an agony of despair and strongly tempted to leap overboard and end my worthless life. But, at that awful moment, an eagle swooped down near my head, and [then,] soaring aloft with wildest scream, was lost in the rays of the setting sun. 'I knew that a great duty and glorious destiny awaited me in the West.'"*

When I started this entry, I was sitting at my keyboard and listening to my iPod randomly work through my collection of music. An hour or so ago, it played De Guello. Now, as I finish transcribing, it plays Mark Knopfler's, Storybook Love: "Like a story book story!" Art, of course, imitates life; but it is fun when art interrupts life to add punctuation!

"Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day."

"Live in the Moment."

Note: *Burleson, Georgia J., comp. The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson, D.D., L.L. D., Georgia J. Burleson, 1901.