Alamo

Alamo Defender Thomas Miller and Other Texan Revolutionaries Sign Pristine Document



Important Early Land Deed Signed by Texan Revolutionary Killed 3 Years Later at Alamo

 

Retained copy of Spanish language land deed signed by three of the "Immortal 18" who would participate in the 1835 Battle of Gonzales, including one who would die at the Battle of the Alamo three years later.

 

Signed by William W. Arrington as "Wm W Arrington"; George W. Davis as "George W Davis"; Thomas R. Miller as "Thomas R. Miller"; and James Blair Patrick as "J.B. Patrick". Signed in Gonzales, Texas (then the capital of DeWitt Colony in the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas) on December 24, 1833. The document is written in a flowing secretarial hand and has a letterhead bearing a printed "Coahuila y Tejas" seal at top. Docketed twice in English verso. Overall light toning. Minor paper folds and a few chipped edges, else near fine. 8.5" x 12.25". Comes with a Spanish transcription and English translation, as well as research about Thomas R. Miller gathered from the Texas State Historical Association and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library. A similar document sold at Heritage in 2016 for $3,250.

 

On December 24, 1833, Texan settler William W. Arrington requested the paperwork from a recent land purchase.  James B. Patrick, the Mayor of Gonzales, and George W. Davis and Thomas R. Miller, two witnesses, signed the document granting Arrington's request.

 

In part:

 

“Señ Alcalde de la Villa de Gonzales

Tengo el honor de dereguer (?) mi presentación como poblador de esta villa de Gonzalez conforme al articulo 36 de la ley de colonización de 24 Marzo de 1825 para la distribución de tierraz en las nuebas villas, y a bajo de dichos ley, yo vía comprado en esquadria No. 3 pedazo No. 4 en dichos esquadria que tiene cuarenta varas de frente y sesenta varas de fondo conforma a los plan del villa, y suplico (?) se serva estender los títulos correspondientes Gonzalez los 23 días del mes de Deciembre de mil ochocientos treinta y tres.

Wm W Arrington…"

 

Translation:

 

“Mr. Mayor of the Town of Gonzales

I have the honor to direct my submission to you as a resident of this town of Gonzales according to Article 36 of the March 24, 1825 Colonization Law for the distribution of land in the new towns, and [in accordance] of that law, I had bought esquadria No. 3, No. 4 and that has forty yards in front and 60 yards deep according to the town’s  plan, and I request that you provide the corresponding titles. Gonzalez 23rd day of the month of December one thousand eight hundred thirty and three.

Wm W Arrington…"

 

Of the document's four signers, three would be among the "Immortal 18" who fought at the Battle of Gonzales on October 2, 1835. This battle, called the "Lexington of Texas," marked the beginning of the Texan Revolution. It was instigated by citizens of Gonzales who refused to return a cannon loaned to them by the Mexican army for defense against the Comanche. The Texans taunted Mexican soldiers dispatched to retrieve the cannon by flying a homemade banner (recycled from a wedding dress!) emblazoned "Come and Take It!" This became the rallying cry of the Immortal 18, who attacked the Mexicans' camp, forcing them to desist and withdraw. The Texans thus won their first substantial victory, but set the stage for the catastrophic Battle of the Alamo five months later.

 

Gonzales was the capital of DeWitt Colony, the western most American settlement in Mexico. The Mexican government had granted Green DeWitt a 6-year-contract in 1825 authorizing him to recruit 400 families to settle in the Guadalupe River basin now located in southeastern modern day Texas. All of our signers--Arrington, Davis, Miller, and Patrick--were among these early Gonzales settlers.

 

William W. Arrington, the landowner who submitted this request to the Mayor's consideration, arrived in DeWitt Colony in 1831. A farmer and stockman, he was one of the Immortal 18 who fought in the Battle of Gonzales.

 

George W. Davis (1797-1853), who witnessed the signing of this document, arrived in DeWitt Colony from Kentucky in 1831. He too participated in the Battle of Gonzales and was a delegate at the Texas Consultation, the committee tasked with directing a response to Mexico, in the fall of 1835. He fought in the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836, which secured Texan independence.

 

Thomas R. Miller (ca. 1795-1804? - 1836), another witness, arrived in DeWitt Colony from Virginia in 1830. He was purportedly the richest man in Gonzales. In addition to landowning, Miller owned a general store, and provisioned the garrison at the Alamo. Miller served as the town clerk, attended the Texas Consultation, and participated in the Battle of Gonzales. Miller was one of 32 men who traveled 75 miles east of Gonzales to relieve the besieged Alamo. (see below)

 

James Blair Patrick (born ca. 1800), referred to in our document as the Mayor of Gonzales, arrived in DeWitt Colony in 1829. Before being elected as Mayor in 1832, he served as police commissioner. In 1835, Patrick was a member of the Gonzales Committee of Safety. He, along with other town residents, evacuated Gonzales after the fall of the Alamo during the so-called Runaway Scrape. Like the other document signers, Patrick was a leading citizen and a wealthy landowner.

 

Thomas R. Miller was among the Gonzales Rangers, or "Gonzales 32," who responded to Commander William B. Travis's desperate call for reinforcements during the 13-day siege of the Alamo by General Santa Anna's Mexican army. The Gonzales contingent arrived on March 1st. The fort's defenders, among whom were Colonels Davy Crockett and James Bowie, were outnumbered 10 to 1 and faced ammunition shortages and heavy bombardment. The Mexicans broke the siege and charged the fort at dawn on the morning of March 6, 1836. All of the Alamo's defenders, including Private Thomas R. Miller, were killed in the heated 90-minute-long battle. Miller was granted bounty warrants of over 2,600 acres as a posthumous reward for his service at the Alamo.

 

Interestingly, the document also mentions another Alamo defender, Byrd Lockhart (1782-1839). Lockhart was foraging for supplies when the Alamo was attacked, and thus survived the battle.

 



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