Remember the Alamo & Our Rich Cultural Inheritance
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
March 6, 2003
Last Sunday night I found my self, doing battle with that dreaded flu bug. After a quick trip to the emergency room, I went to fill the prescription and noticed the pharmacist waiting on me carried the last name of Van Buren. Naturally, I inquired of him as to whether he was related to one of the early 1950's homebuilders in my Precinct, named Doug Van Buren. He said that he knew of no relation to Doug Van Buren, but that U.S. President Martin Van Buren was his great, great, great, great grandfather!
I find it fascinating that the descendants of the founding families of America many of them yours and mine, are everywhere among us. Last year I attended a lecture by James L. Haley at Barnes and Nobles on his new book on that quintessential Texan of all times: Sam Houston. He explained to the audience that he had been at a reception somewhere in the State and noticed a gentleman who had a striking resemblance to Sam Houston. He was tall with the radiant blue eyes and other characteristics for which Sam Houston was known.
This really raised Mr. Haley's curiosity. After following him around the room for a while, Mr. Haley finally mustered the gumption to make this man's acquaintance. When he stretched out his hand to introduce himself, the Houston look-alike said, "Sam Houston IV"! All of which reaffirms what I find so fascinating: that our American and Texas History lives on in real life among us to this day.
Here in Precinct Four we live in a veritable treasure trove of Texas History! I have had the good fortune to know or become acquainted with several of the descendants of figures in Texas History. My dear friend Joe Esparza's great, great grandfather, Joe Esparza died fighting for the Texas side of the Revolution at the Alamo. Ironically, his brother fought for the Mexican side of the Revolution. Because his brother survived and fought on the winning side of the Battle of the Alamo, he was able to afford the only Christian burial given to a fallen Texan at the Alamo.
Great, great nephew of two figures of Texas and Mexican history, Donald Cover isn't hurting for a little background in his own family. The first great, great uncle was Juan Seguin, an Alamo courier on the Texas side of the Revolution and namesake of the City of Seguin. It doesn't take much to run into a Juan Seguin descendant here in Precinct Four and beyond. The other Cover great, great uncle was Ignacio Zaragoza, born in Victoria but destined to become the hero in a fight between the Mexicans and the French known as the Battle of Puebla in Mexico. Every year we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in commemoration of the victory of the Mexicans over the French on May 5, 1872.
Grayson Street. Anybody ever know how this old San Antonio Street became known as Grayson Street? About two years ago, a fellow named Bill Campbell called me and asked if I would be interested in talking about Texas history. I immediately set the date. I had no idea I was about to discover the origin of Grayson Street.
Upon visiting him, he told me that his great, great grandfather was Thomas Wigg Grayson for whom the street was named. Thomas Wigg Grayson was the pilot of the steamship called the Yellowstone. His ship ferried both Sam Houston and Santa Anna shortly after the Battle of San Jacinto. After the Revolution, Mr. Grayson came to live here in San Antonio on a street later named after his family: Grayson Street. It is an interesting coincidence that the south-bounding street of Fort Sam Houston would bear the name of the pilot that assisted Sam Houston shortly after San Jacinto.
You probably have many stories and family histories just like these. They are all around us. At this time where we commemorate the month of the Texas Declaration of Independence and the major battles that followed it, why not acquaint yourself with your own family's history, Texas or otherwise.
People with knowledge of family history often pass on without the benefit of anyone taking note of significant events in the lives of their family. Since my visit with Bill Campbell, he has regrettably passed away. Lucky me to have sat with him while I had the chance. May he rest in peace, and may each of you seize the moment to relive the greatness found right at home in your own families!