I walked out of one of the jillion little shops carrying jillions of over priced items in the Galleria Shopping area in Houston. As I stepped into the muggy air, your mind first says, “Oh, how tropical”, then realization kicks in and you think, hell this not the tropics, this is Texas. I couldn’t help thinking how much more uncomfortable this must have been 3 or 4 centuries ago before we got the technology to minimize atmosphere conditions in high traffic metro areas. Some smart person realized how much easier crowd control would be if people didn’t have to wear coats or heavy clothing in public areas. We had so many bombings in the 21st century that it was necessary to be able to screen everyone. Then it was decided after that, that it would more pleasing esthetically to not have to be bundled up in high traffic areas. Anyway, I am getting away from my story. My thoughts trailed a bit farther back. What was this place like in the early nineteenth century? Why did they want to come here and build their homes? It could not have been a very welcoming atmosphere for those early adventurers. So, my new assignment; Project Texas, to record the history, and maybe take a bit different path than the conventional history books. But first we must finish Misha’s shopping, have some ethnic food – who knows what that might be – then a couple of hours laying on the beaches a couple of miles south of the city. After all the big meltdown of the latter part of the 21st Century, you didn’t have to journey to Galveston Island as you did in those early days.
We were back in Denver by late afternoon, and home in the western suburbs before dinner. I found a comfortable place while Misha was doing her thing. I called up my information center and had a re-enactment scene holo-gramed for me. There wasn’t much available. I read through some of the period recorded histories, glanced at some auto-biographies and some old photos, etc. I thought to myself the clothing was probably really uncomfortable in that environment.
I buzzed the Archival center and hailed Dan, my supervisor, and had him look at some of the material and told him of my idea. He gave a “thumbs up” and said he would see me tomorrow. I started to do more research but Misha called and said the deliverymen for the new VR Pod had arrived to set it up. By the time we got it situated, set, logged in and our profiles set-up, it was time for dinner. As we ate, mostly some leftovers from out day in Houston and the Gumbo we had delivered from the take out service of a restaurant we had visited, and watched the news, guess what? One of the really big super hurricanes that happened these days was bearing down on Houston. We had heard nothing of it all day we were there. But they would be prepared, they always were.
We spent the rest of the evening in our pod together. It was really wild. You could set up any environmental past or present situation and have it happen. We rode race cars, went through crashes, flew in military aircraft experiencing air combat. We actually did several of those, doing the 1920’s type aircraft then the 1940’s. Then finally late 20th and early 21st. The pod was great. We experienced the G’s you would feel in tight turns, the dizzying speed that things happened with. We rode in horse carriages and trains, and canoes on fast rivers. By the time we got to bed, she just looked at me and smiled. “Jamie, thing may not be good for our sex lives!” I grinned back, “It has been a long day.”
Next morning, after security checks and background review, I was ready to start. We had experienced a security breech the month before and a person had gotten into our unit and was about to go somewhere back in time when security caught him and arrested him. We now know the dangers that someone could do by going back and causing serious tears in time. The results could be catastrophic and impossible to repair.
Somebody once said, “And on the eighth day God created Texas.” It was probably a Texan who said that. It is not really true. Texas was not created to be simply Texas. It just happened as a series of events over several decades that came to that state of existence. Those early immigrants came to a place that had land. The Spanish gave them grants and they, like being the Anglo-Saxons that they were, simply used the land and prospered and said ok, we did it and now it’s ours. They came from all over to Texas – Tennesseans and Kentuckians, settlers from Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia. Oh yeah, there were Germans and Irish, Scotch and French, all looking for a place to live and raise their families.
I made my decision to start with the start of the Revolution, or at least the first semi organized battle, such as it was. I made my appearance Sept 29th, 1835 near the small settlement of Gonzales, on the Guadalupe River. Almost the same time of the year as we visited Houston. It was quite different, still warm, but much dryer. I was questioned as I rode in as to who I was and where I came from. I gave a name and said I was looking for a place to settle my family, and had just left Hendersonville, Tennessee 3 weeks before. I was accepted immediately and informed that the Mexican Army was about to try to take back a cannon that they had formerly given to the town as protection against the Indians. They had appeared at the town, but fording would have been difficult there, so they had moved up river for a better fording place.
The Mexican Army was currently up the river, but probably had already figured out the Texians were killing time gathering re-enforcements.
To me it was really interesting that the cannon that was given to Gonzales had actually been spiked. In other words, a metal spike had been driven into the ignition hole so the cannon couldn’t be fired. But by now the local blacksmith had drilled it out and it was now useable. They loaded it with scrap metal to be fired.
Castaneda, the Mexican Officer, had been very sympathetic to the Texians. He didn’t like the governor’s attitude, but was duty bound to take the cannon.
On the evening of September 1st we crossed the river on the west side and moved cautiously through the fog till we were supposedly opposite the Mexican Army. As daylight was coming on, our pickets moved out and were fired upon by the Mexican sentries. A skirmish ensued, and it lasted about 18 minutes. Our side fired upon the Mexicans and they began retreating almost immediately back to Bejar,(San Antonio). Texas had won it’s first battle, it’s Lexington. But it was far from over. Indeed, blood was yet to be spilt. Only one Spanish Soldier fell at Gonzales.
Settlers started arriving in what was to become Texas in the sixteenth century, with the Spanish and the French then the Spanish again. Colonies were established and failed. Some destroyed by native Americans, some by disease, and others just the hardships of living there. But in 1821, when Mexico gained independence from Spain, she opened her doors to emigrants from the United States. She probably didn’t consider that these people had just attained their freedom from European rule less than 50 years before, they weren’t about to give it up.
Not everyone that came stayed. Young Samuel Bowen was one. He left pretty quickly. His brother William would come later in ’35 and be a huge part of the Revolution, and stayed.
In the coming weeks Sam Houston would be chosen as the leader of the Revolutionary Army and would come to Gonzales and gather an army. I would spend some time here, but not for now I returned to my century with a whole new feeling for the wide open sky of this wild new world, with wild brave men and women who were willing to deal with a harsh world filled with dangers from both man and beast, as well as gaining freedom from yet another foreign government.
This is on the first chapter about Texas.