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Texas Editors Look Back

by Mike Cox
Mike Cox

Maybe it was because Texas's revolution from Mexico had begun 75 years before, maybe it was just coincidence. But for whatever the reason, in 1910 Texans suddenly seemed particularly interested in their history.

In late October that year, newspapers reported the removal of colonizer Stephen F. Austin's bones to Austin from his original grave at Peach Point plantation in Brazoria County. Here's the story published in the Oct. 29, 1910 Eagle Pass News-Guide:

"The mortal remains of...the founder and father of Texas, were Tuesday disinterred from the little cemetery at Peach Point, where they have rested since Dec. 19, 1836, under the auspices of a committee from the legislature and in the presence of many relatives and friends. The remains were conveyed to Austin, the city which bears his name and the permanent capital of the State, for final interment in the State cemetery, where grateful people will soon erect a monument as fitting to his memory as human hands can construct.

"Imbedded in the soil he loved, the remains of the great Empresario of Texas were remarkably well preserved. Of the clothing in which he was shrouded nothing was found and only a few pieces of the casket in which he was buried were recovered, but every bone of the frame which stood at various times in the hostile halls of the Montezumas and before friendly audiences in the United States and successfully pleaded the cause of Texas and Texans, was recovered from the earth and brought to light of day before the reverent eyes of friends and relatives."

Next came a powerful paragraph from the good old days of "tell it like it is" journalism:

"The great brain cavity of the illustrious colonizer and diplomat was filled with the soil for which he suffered and endured and pleaded and it seemed appropriate that the clear and prophetic brain which once planned, organized, nurtured, directed and preserved the State should in the process of time be supplanted by some of its rich, warm earth. Loving hands collected the immortal relics and tenderly placed them in a casket and carried them away from the scenes of the happiest days to a place where more Texans might have the opportunity to do them reverence and all along the way people gathered to pay their respects."

The same issue of the border newspaper carried a short note about the upcoming meeting of the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress in San Antonio:

"'Assemble at the Alamo'" is the slogan, and 'Every patriotic citizen should at least once during life stand within the walls of the Alamo,' is an argument which, together with statements concerning the important work of the organization and beauties and historic charm of San Antonio, are being used by the officers of the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress to induce a large attendance [at] the twenty-first annual session of that body, to be held Nov. 22-25, at San Antonio."

Clearly, Texans still remembered the Alamo.

The revolution that included the March 6, 1836 Alamo massacre had begun the previous October in Gonzales. Seventy-five years later, a monument commemorating that event was unveiled in the "Come and Take It" town. As the News-Guide reported:

"The Texas monument was unveiled Thursday after a program rendered in Klein's opera house during a cold, drizzling rain.

"Those who occupied seats of prominence were: Judge W.C. Fly of San Antonio, Hon. T.F. Hardwood of Gonzales; Wm. Klein of Gonzales; Aug. Klein, mayor of Gonzales; Senator [Ferdinand C.] Weinert of Seguin, Representative Schleick of Gonzales, Mrs. Dr. J.W. Hildebrand of Gonzales, together with a host of members of the [Daughters of the] Republic of Texas.

"The program rendered was: Invocation, Rev. Gaston Hartsfield; reading names of notables of the skirmish of Gonzales, October 1835; twelve high school boys bearing Texas flags; address, W.S. Fly; song, "The Texas Flag;" chorus of Gonzales High School girls, bearing Texas flags; address, Mrs. J.B. Dibrell; address, Senator Weinert; unveiling of the Texas monument, Mrs. J.W. Hildebrand, president local Daughters of the Republic.

"The address of Hon. T.F. Harwood was an apt rehearsal of the history of Gonzales, together with the various vicissitudes of the early colonies and frontiers. He read for the audience the detailed accounts of the valor of the men who launched into life the republic of Texas. His eloquent words elicited frequent applause.

"While the words of Mr. Harwood were along the lines of a historical research, those of Judge W.S. Fly were more commemorable. His words were received by attentive listeners and a round of applause greeted his appearance.

"Mrs. J.B. Dibrell's address was very interesting, well delivered and her words expressed thanks in behalf of the United Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

"Senator Weinert, who was commended highest with thanks, as well as the legislature and the governor himself, by those who spoke previously, made a terse talk, expressing his gratitude for the position he occupied in bringing to a head the appropriation which gave us the highly prized monument.

"At the conclusion of Judge Weinert's talk the crowd dispersed to the monument, and while the band played "Dixie" in martial air, the veiling was felled from the monument by Mrs. J.W. Hildebrand, president of the local Daughters of the Republic."

Finally, work was underway at Huntsville on a monument honoring Sam Houston. Again, from the Oct. 29, 1910 Eagle Pass newspaper:

"A car [rail] containing the Sam Houston monument came in Thursday. H. Myers of San Antonio who has the erection of the monument in charge, has been in the city for several days and will put his force to work without delay. He estimates that two weeks will be required in which to complete the job. The date of unveiling has not been decided on."

© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" March 23, 2017 column

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