Hopefully your holiday season is going better than Stephen F. Austin’s did in 1833!
Stephen F. Austin spent much of the fall of 1833 in Mexico City trying to speak with Congressional leaders and the acting Mexican president, Valentin Gomez Farias, about a statehood petition for Texas. The petition was unsuccessful, but Austin left Mexico City with hopes that there was still a chance. Instead, upon arriving in Saltillo on January 2, 1834, he found himself arrested for the contents of a letter that he wrote to his Texas compatriots that was deemed seditious because it spoke of Texan separation from Coahuila.
The Gefe Politico of Monclova (where the government of Coahula y Tejas had been moved) received word that Austin had left Mexico City but was subsequently wanted to answer for the charges of sedition. The Mexican government had issued an order of arrest on December 11. At the end of December, the gefe of Monclova, J. Maria Cantu, sent out letters ahead of Austin instructing alcaldes (mayors) and commandants to apprehend Austin on sight and return him to Mexico. One of the men who received a copy of these orders was the Mayor of Santa Rosa. This letter is preserved in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection housed at the Alamo Research Center.
We wish all of you the best in the new year! We’d love to see you for a research session. Let us know how we can help!
Thanks to everyone who joined us last Friday afternoon for our book talk with Nick Kotz, the author of The Harness Maker’s Dream! The talk was called American Family Histories: Lost, Forgotten, Found. Mr. Kotz discussed topics such as improved access to historical documents through the Internet and research techniques including reaching out to distant relatives.
We learned a lot about Nathan Kallison and his family. Nathan Kallison immigrated to Chicago from Russia to open a harness maker shop. He met his wife there, and they came to San Antonio to pursue their dream. The saddlery shop gained momentum, and Kallison’s saddlery and Western wear shop provided staples for ranchers and farmers coming to town. Nathan eventually bought a ranch, Kallison Ranch out near modern day Government Canyon State Park, that would become known for supporting the development of scientific agricultural improvements.
Keep an eye out for our next book talk!
On November 11, we marked Veteran’s Day as a moment to commemorate the heroes of our Armed Forces who have sacrificed so much for our country. Veteran’s Day originated as Armistice Day, the day that heralded of the end of the “Great War,” which became known as World War I. In the UK and Europe, November 11 is Remembrance Day, a time to recall the sacrifices made by their own soldiers and those living on the home front during that conflict, which was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.”
The Alamo Research Center observed Veteran’s Day at our First Saturday exhibit last weekend with a small display of photographs from a 1919 parade as well as a unique panoramic image of a speech given by San Antonio Mayor Black in 1921. This panorama has provided us with a wonderful opportunity. We regularly put it on display during our exhibits, and Alamo Assistant Curator Ernesto Rodriguez noticed an interesting object one day. He recognized a banner hanging from the front of the Alamo Shrine as one that the Alamo has in its collection!
This magnificent banner includes stars for each individual from Bexar County who lost his life during American involvement in World War I. One of the stars represents David B. Barkley, a young man from Bexar County who gave his life for his country. Barkley was a member of the 356th Infantry, Company A. He died while returning from an information-gathering mission into enemy lines. For his bravery, Barkley was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first person of Latino origin to receive it. He was also granted the privilege of laying in state in the Alamo Shrine. Only four other individuals have been extended that honor, and it has not happened since World War II.
During the exhibit, one of our visitors made a remarkable discovery. Mr. Tom Pressley noted that he had always been told that his great uncle, a soldier from Bexar County, died during service in World War I. Upon inspection of the banner, we located the star honoring 1st Lt. John Montgomery, who was killed on the first day of American combat at the Battle of St. Mihiel.
The entire staff of the Alamo Research Center would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation for the members of all branches of our Armed Forces. Thank you for all you do!
October is Archives Month, and there’s a fantastic opportunity we’d like to share with you. The Alamo Research Center has long been involved with helping our patrons explore their family history, and there’s a great free web-based program happening this week at the National Archives. Whether you are just getting started on your journey or have more genealogy experience, we highly recommend that you think about this course!
Please join the National Archives for the 2014 Virtual Genealogy Fair on October 28, 29, & 30, starting daily at 10 a.m. eastern time. This will be a live broadcast via the Internet so you can ask our genealogy experts questions at the end of their talks. The entire event is free and open to all, so there is no registration.
We had a lovely Donor Tea on Sunday! Thanks to everyone who came to enjoy many of the wonderful documents that our generous donors have gifted to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection over the years. We wouldn’t exist without your support!
The new school year has is well under way, and so is the 2014-2015 cycle of the National History Day competition! This year’s theme is “Leadership and Legacy in History.” Texas history is chock full of interesting leaders who left lasting legacies behind them! Here’s a quick preview of topic ideas:
- You could investigate the story of Samuel Augustus Maverick, the man elected by the garrison at the Alamo to go to Washington on the Brazos to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.
- If you like women’s history, learn more about Susanna Dickinson.
- You could explore the lives of Clara Driscoll and Adina de Zavala, two of the women who helped save the Alamo in 1905.
- Check out original documents related to some of the important Tejanos in Texas history such as Juan Seguin or the Cassiano family.
- Research Stephen F. Austin, the Father of Texas, and some of the families who came with him to Texas as his Old Three Hundred in the 1820s-many of these people became important leaders during the Texas Revolution and afterwards.
The possibilities are endless!
The Alamo Research Center is a great resource for your Texas-themed NHD project. We offer a number of services that can help students, parents, and teachers get started and research a topic. We have lots of primary and secondary sources, and we’d love to help you come up with a Texas history topic based on what your interests are. We can do an individual or a small group tour of the archives, arrange a Google Hangout tour of the ARC and our materials, talk about how to begin your research at an archival repository, and host small group research sessions. Contact our director, Leslie Stapleton, at (210) 225-1071 or email us at email@example.com for more information.
The Education Department at the Alamo provides another great NHD Texas history resource, especially if you have picked a Texas Revolution topic! You can set up a phone or Skype conversation with an Alamo Educator or Curator, and they have Texas Revolution packets available that they can mail to students, parents, and teachers. Check the upcoming events calendar to see if there is a teacher workshop that interests you! For more information, please contact Museum Educator Sherri Driscoll at (210) 225-1391 ext. 135 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teachers, be sure to check out the Classroom Connections offered by National History Day!