Bayou originates just west of Raywood
in Liberty County
and flows, eighteen miles away, into Lake Anahuac. Angry Texans camped
near that bayou in June 1832, trying to figure out how to gain the
release of William Barret Travis and Patrick Jack, who had been arrested
in Anahuac by
Mexican post commander Juan David Bradburn.
Lawyer Travis had gotten into trouble with Bradburn when he represented
a Texas slave owner seeking runaway property in Texas. Bradburn at
first denied the slaves were there, later admitted they were, but
that he would not release them without proof of ownership. The man
engaged Travis to represent him while he went home for proof. Bradburn
ordered Travis' arrest when he tricked Bradburn into thinking that
the man had returned in the middle of the night with an army. When
Mexican soldiers arrested Travis, his partner objected so strenuously
that he was arrested, too. Then Bradburn announced the men would be
sent under escort to Mexico for trial.
Other Americans gathered at Turtle Bayou, near Anahuac,
to plan how to prevent Travis and Jack from military trial. While
there, they adopted the Turtle Bayou Resolutions as a statement about
why they were defying the government.
The reason was simple: Bradburn represented a military regime that
had set aside the Constitution of 1824, under which the Americans
had been admitted to Texas legally. If the government succeeded, their
presence land titles. Taking advantage of a revolt against that same
government being led by Antonio
Lopez de Santa Anna, the four Turtle Bayou Resolutions denounced,
the usurpers, declared their support for Santa
Anna and states' rights, pledged on their honor to see the issue
resolved, and invited other Americans and Tejanos to join them in
When adopted, the resolutions remained unsigned, but when a copy was
presented to Col. Jose Antonio Mexia, Santa
Anna's representative, when he came north to find out what the
Americans were doing, the names of Wyle Martin, John Austin, Luke
Lesassier, William H. Jack, Hugh B. Johnston, Francis W. Johnson,
and Robert M. Williamson had been affixed to it.
Travis and Jack were released when Col. Jose Piedras arrived in Anahuac
and saw that the Americans had more guns than did he and Bradburn.
Travis and Santa Anna encountered
each other four years later at the Alamo.
P. McDonald, PhD
March 22 , 2005 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers