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  Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical


JUAN'S CABIN

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

When Juan Antonio Badillo left East Texas in 1836 and enlisted for six months service with the new Republic of Texas, he left two legacies. One, he was one of only a handful of Tejanos - Mexicans born in Texas - who died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836. Two, he left a still-standing log cabin that could be among East Texas' oldest structures.

Badillo -- who is listed among some records as Antonio Padillo -- was apparently a surveyor living around Nacogdoches in the 1830s. He also owned a few parcels of land, including 520 acres on Little Elkhart Creek near the present community of Grapeland in Houston County.

When Badillo decided to fight for Texas' independence, he deeded the Houston County property to the Sheridan family, with whom he had become friendly.

On the old Sheridan farm -- now owned by the Musick family -- is a rambling, two-story house with a native rock chimney. The left side of the house, although covered in boards, is a log cabin hand-hewn from native logs a long, long time ago.

No one has yet proven that it was, or wasn't, built in the 1830s. Except for the land's abstract listing Badillo's one-time ownership, there are few clues to the Alamo soldier's past.


He was born in Texas and when he arrived at the Alamo, he was made a non-commissioned sergeant in a cavalry company raised by Juan Sequin, a rancher and Bexar political leader who opposed Santa Anna.

Badillo fought with Sequin in the siege of Bexar in 1835, which placed San Antonio in Republic hands. He accompanied Sequin back to the Alamo in 1836 and died there while Sequin and a fellow soldier were trying to enlist reinforcement troops in towns surrounding San Antonio.


After Badillo's land in Houston County became the property of the Sheridans, the Musicks bought the property from two Sheridan daughters. Today, Billie Musick lives on the property, located deep in a hardwood and pine forest near Grapeland.

The Musick house, an old-fashioned dog-trot farmhouse, has been remodeled several times since its beginning as a one-room log cabin. Not far from the old house is a rock-fenced family cemetery where a tombstone marks the graves of William N. (Bill) Sheridan and his wife, Mary Calhoun Sheridan. Bill was born in 1826 -- ten years before the Alamo's fall -- and died in 1918. Mary was born in 1837 and died in 1900. Other graves date back as far as 1889.


We'll never know if Badillo's story is true or just an interesting family legend, but we do know he died at the Alamo and was one of six to ten defenders with Mexican surnames.

Regardless of his past in East Texas, Badillo left a legacy of noble sacrifice that has contributed to the rich history of Texas.


All Things Historical
>
March 14-20 , 2004 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
Published with permission
(Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman is the author of thirty books on East Texas and a past president of the Association.)

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