Texas Independence Day: In the (19th Century) News…Again!

Every year in anticipation of Texas Independence Day (March 2nd, for those who aren’t from around here) we dig into our collection of Texas Revolutionary-era newspapers to see what folks of the early 19th century had to say about the soon-to-be Lone Star State. It turns out, they said a lot!

1816_11_09_Aberdeen Chronicle - pg 3

Texas’ independence can trace its origins to a number of sources, one of the most significant of which was the Mexican Revolution (1810-1821) and the creation of the Republic of Mexico. That conflict was reported worldwide, including under somewhat misleading heading “South America” in this copy of the Aberdeen (Scotland) Chronicle from November 9, 1816. Only a small portion of the conflict took place in Texas, but the province does get mentioned in this early report. It was also on the mind of the United States, as the revolutionary forces frequently petitioned for legitimacy (and funds) from their northern neighbor.

1825_08_06_National Journal - p4

During these tumultuous revolutionary years, opportunistic men from the States kept their eye on the millions of acres of land that Mexico had to offer in the province of Tejas. The National Journal on August 6, 1825, reported an instance of attempts to purchase such territory. “Captain Leftwich” of Kentucky had recently moseyed into New Orleans claiming to have snatched up enough land for 800 families. Six to eight million acres of land, in fact! More importantly, speculation about adding Texas to the United States was also well underway in the paper.

1828_07_19_Niles' Weekly Register - p6-6

As an aside, have you ever wondered where some of the names of Texas’ counties and cities come from? Houston and Crockett are fairly obvious, named for heroes of San Jacinto and the Alamo, respectively. But Milam County is somewhat lesser-known. It’s named after Colonel Ben Milam, about which the Niles Weekly Register of Baltimore, Maryland, had a lot to share on July 19, 1828. He was a Kentuckian, but his status as a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world”–a world in which he bought up a whole lot of Mexican land (as had Stephen F. Austin, also mentioned in the article, and who is now the namesake of Texas’ capital.)

1835_10_31_The New Yorker p 2-2

By 1835, revolution was in the air! Texian rebels had risen, determined to free themselves from Mexican rule (and, not coincidentally, to ensure that Mexico was no longer going to tax all that land mentioned above…) The New Yorker on October 31, 1835, offered a glimpse of the excitement. Retaliation by Mexico’s President, “that Chief” Santa Anna “and his myrmidons (was) hourly expected.” Further flowered loquacions followed, including a letter written by General Sam Houston himself asking all patriotic Americans to volunteer to aid his people’s cause (and get a generous grant of land to boot.)

1835_11_09_Manufacturers and Farmers Journal p2

The first battle of the Texas Revolution occurred at Gonzales on October 2nd, 1835. News traveled slowly in the 19th century, and so it was November 9, nearly a month after the skirmish, that Rhode Island’s Manufacturers and Farmers Journal, and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser reported it. The numbers of combatants and casualties was exaggerated, turning two hours of desultory exchanges into a much larger conflict…but story probably wouldn’t have sold many newspapers.

1836-08-17 National Intellegencer p1

The Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, effectively ended the Texas Revolution in favor of the Texians. And despite what the August 17th, 1836, issue of the National Intelligencer would have you believe in these excerpts, Mexican forces never reentered Texas after the capture of President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna during that fight. In fact, thousands of settlers swarmed Texas, eager for a fight (which was not forthcoming) and for a chance to settle in the newly liberated area (which definitely forthcame.)

These newspapers in their entirety, along with many of their contemporaries, can be found among our numerous digitized archival collections. For interested researchers who make the journey to us in Lubbock, some can even be viewed in person, along with our many other collections related to Texas history. Just give our cheerful Reference Staff a call and they’ll see what they can set up for you.

Daughters of the American Revolution!

DAR007

Friday is the Fourth of July, with cookouts and singing and festive fireworks exploding nationwide. That has been the case in Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection, by the way!), throughout its history, oftentimes facilitated by the efforts of its Nancy Anderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the records of which the SWC proudly makes available to the public.

The DAR pursues educational, historic, and patriotic objectives through programs and events, as well as collecting and caring for historic documents and artifacts. Founded in 1926, the Lubbock chapter is named for a Revolution-era ancestor of the chapter founder, Ruth E. Ford. A lengthy, handwritten account (a portion of which can be seen above) detailing more about both Nancy Anderson’s story and the history of the chapter can be found in the collection.

DAR004

The Nancy Anderson Chapter has installed a number of historic markers in the Lubbock region, including the Mackenzie Trail marker in downtown Lubbock. They also promoted good citizenship through recognition awards for high school and college students. For the Chapter’s good works, they received the honor roll citation from the National Society of the DAR seen here in a page from one of their many scrapbooks. DAR001Some of the DAR Records consists of annual reports, news clippings, and photographs of yearly events. There are also treasurer’s records, information about obtaining DAR grave markers, details regarding the historic markers installed by the chapter, and valuable compilations of early South Plains residents’ obituaries. Perhaps most informative is their Year Book, which summarizes much of this information, as well as the names of current members. We have a forty-year run of these, dating from 1961 through 2001. DAR005The women of the DAR are dedicated supporters of the armed forces, and they proved it regularly through awards given to Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) members and, of course, actively serving soldiers. This invitation was created for one of their many annual awards ceremonies, this one held in 1994 at Lubbock’s Reese Air Force Base.DAR008Finally, one of the programs of which the DAR takes the most pride is the training and recognition of immigrants aspiring to United States citizenship, emphasizing education about the United States Constitution. They even crafted pamphlets in native languages designed to help prospective citizens such as the ones seen above, which were written in German, Portuguese, and Hungarian. In our collections we also have several written in Polish, Spanish, French, Italian, and a host of other languages.

In short, the DAR, while a national organization, had a measurable presence in the local history of Lubbock and the South Plains: a fitting bit of trivia as we celebrate on this July 4th. Those interested in digging a little further into these records should get ahold of our helpful Reference Staff who are always happy to help however they can.