again the City of Gonzales
is getting ready for its annual “Come and Take It” celebration.
As many folks know, the festivities are to honor those brave souls
who, on October 2, 1835, refused the demands of Mexican authorities
to return a small cannon — a weapon that had been given to them
earlier by the Mexican army for defense against hostile Indians.
A small battle was fought over the cannon and the settlers were
victorious. After the battle
at Gonzales, an army was formed and the Texans marched to San
Antonio. They succeeded in the capture of that city and established
their military headquarters in the old mission known as the
People around the world have heard the
story of the Alamo. But many have never heard about the individual
soldier the men other than Crockett, Bowie, Travis, etc.
men such as John E. Gaston, John B. Kellogg, and George
Much too often we hear about the battle and not about the men. Folks
often tend to get “caught up” in the event. They sometimes forget
the ordinary soldiers, made of flesh and blood, who were participants
in epic battles such as the Alamo.
such soldier was David P. Cummings. He met up with and became a
part of the volunteer group from Gonzales
who were on their way to the
Alamo — responding to Col. William B. Travis’ plea for reinforcements.
Cummings was a surveyor from Pennsylvania. According to information
found in The Handbook of Texas Online, he came to Texas
by ship from New Orleans in December of 1835. He walked from the
coast to San
Felipe where he had hoped to join a ranger unit and fight hostile
As was the custom in those days, young Cummings was carrying a “letter
of introduction” from his father. While he was at San
Felipe, he met Sam
Houston and presented him with the letter. Houston advised Cummings
to buy a horse and continue on to Goliad.
Instead of following Houston’s advice Cummings went to San Antonio
where he joined the garrison at the Alamo sometime in late January
of 1836. He left San
Antonio in early February to survey land he had acquired on
Cibolo Creek. It was during this time that he joined up with the
men from Gonzales
and returned to the Alamo.
The book, Alamo Defenders by Bill Groneman, contains a letter
that was written by David P. Cummings on February 14, 1836. Apparently
he was sending the letter to family members and friends back home
in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.
Cummings’ letter contains a message of optimism about Texas
and his hopes for the future. In one of the passages he wrote, “I
say come on, there is a fine field open to you all no matter how
you are situated or what may be your circumstances. At least come
and see the country, as a farmer, mechanic or a soldier you will
do well — I believe no country offers such inducements to [emigration]….”
Young David Cummings seemed to know that there would be a heavy
price to pay for this place called Texas.
He was very aware that a large Mexican army was coming toward him
even as he penned the letter.
“We conceive it important to be prepared as a heavy attack is expected
from Santa Anna himself in the Spring as no doubt the despot will
use every possible means and strain every nerve to conquer and exterminate
us from the land,” wrote Cummings. “In this we have no fear and
are confident that Texas cannot only
sustain what she now holds but take Mexico itself did she think
David Cummings is one of many relatively unknown soldiers that fought
for Texas independence. But he is as much a hero as Crockett, Travis,
Bowie, and all the rest. After all, he also made the supreme sacrifice.
The optimistic 27-year-old surveyor from Pennsylvania was killed
in the battle
of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
Come and Take It celebration should be a great event for everyone
to enjoy — a time to visit friends and family — also a time to reflect
upon the sacrifices made long ago by some extraordinary men.
Note: This year’s celebration will be held Friday, Saturday, and
Sunday (Oct. 3, 4, 5). For more information call the Gonzales Chamber
of Commerce at 830-672-6532.
Star Diary October 2, 2014 column
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