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Texas | Columns | Somewhere in the West

The Women of 1836
Part II


Susannah Dickinson

By Linda Kirkpatrick
Susannah Wilkerson, of Hardeman County, Tennessee, married Almeron Dickinson at the age of fifteen. Stories tell how Susannah and Almeron were sweethearts but a spat caused Almeron to court another girl who just happened to be a friend of Susannahís. To make matters worse, Susannahís friend asked her to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to Almeron! In her heart, Susannah still pined for Almeron and soon she and Almeron realized that they still loved each other so the night before his wedding to the other woman they saddled their horses and rode away leaving a very bewildered bride standing at the altar. The newly-weds joined a group of colonists and found themselves on their way to a faraway place called Texas.
Susannah Dickinson
Susannah Dickinson
Photo courtesy Linda Kirkpatrick
The families who arrived in Texas as part of Austinís ďOriginal Three HundredĒ, found various ways to deal with the hardships of this new land. This particular bunch settled in a community called, Gonzales. They received various assistance from the Mexican Comandante at Bexar. The Mexicans gave the people of the community of Gonzales a cannon to aid in the defense of Indian attacks. Who would have ever guessed that the almost worthless gun would be such an important part of Texas history?

Susannah and Almeron settled in this community too. Almeron brought his much in demand blacksmithing skills to the area. On the morning of October, 1835, the Gonzales volunteers headed to the defense of Bexar with Almeron as artillery commander. This body of volunteers consisted of five to six hundred men.

During the siege of Bexar, the Gonzales Volunteers found many Mexican women and children hiding in the homes. These women like the Anglo women, showed strength unheard of today. They offered food and cared for the wounded from both sides of the battle.

The siege of Bexar ended on December 10, 1835. Some of the volunteers returned to their homes weary and tired but jubilant over their victory. They would soon return to the area of Bexar. Almeron was one of the volunteers that returned to Gonzales. On his second trip, he took Susannah and their baby daughter, Angelina. They set up housekeeping at the home of Ramon Musquiz on Main Plaza. They lived here until the day that the bells tolled, signaling the coming of the Mexican armies.

The ringing of the bells at the Church of San Fernando alerted the people of the community of Bexar that danger was near. Susannah grabbed Angelina and ran towards the plaza for more information. Almeron met them there. The three quickly loaded on the back of his horse and galloped to the protective gates of San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo.

After their arrival at this old abandoned structure, they were soon followed a small group of volunteers that numbered less than two hundred. For thirteen days they made their stand against the Mexican forces that numbered in the thousands.
Alamo Battle drawing
The situation inside the walls of the Alamo became disheartening. They waited and waited for help that never arrived. On the thirteenth day of the Mexican surge, in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, Susannah and the rest of the inhabitants heard the haunting notes of the trumpet song, Deguello. As the final note traversed the morning air, Santa Anna, charged the walls for one last time.

Soon there was silence. Susannah and the other non-combatants, mostly Mexican women and their children, huddled with their children in a corner room wondering what their fate would be. A Mexican officer entered the room. He looked at Susannah and told her that if she wanted to save her life and that of Angelina that she must follow him.

Susannah picked up Angelina and followed the officer into the courtyard. It was then that she viewed a site that history books can never describe. The air was still and there was a deafening hush all around. The bodies of the brave dead Texans lay stacked in piles, later to become funeral pyres spreading smoke and history to the sky above.

Susannah learned that she would be the courier of the news to Sam Houston. The trip from the Alamo to Gonzales would take this sad group three to four days. It was only about 75 miles but what was the rush? It was from lips of Susannah that Houston heard the fate of the Alamo.

In the panic to flee the tyrant Santa Anna, Susannah and the baby were loaded into a cart and would again take part in another important historical event, the Runaway Scrape.

Life for Susannah went from bad to worse in the years after the fall of the Alamo. She found herself as a widow with a baby in the wilds of Texas. She was destitute and possibly turned to a trade that managed to support some women left in this situation.

After three failed marriages she became the bride of Joseph William Hannig. For the first time since her marriage to Almeron Dickenson, she was happy and secure. It is said that she only visited the Alamo once after her departure in 1836. I guess that is understandable. She didnít share a lot about her time spent in the Alamo or her life after the fall. I guess she didnít realize how important her story would be.

Susannah died on October 7, 1883 at the age of 68. She is buried in Austin, Texas in Oakwood Cemetery. She could have added a lot to the romance of the Alamo, but she didnít.
The Alamo
The Alamo, San Antonio
TE Photo, 2001
See
The Women of 1836 - Part I
Part III - Mary Millsap



© Linda Kirkpatrick
Somewhere in the West May 1, 2008 Column

Related Stories:

  • Dickinson and Kimble, Heroic hat makers at the Alamo by Murray Montgomery

  • Battle of the Alamo by Jeffery Robenalt

  • Runaway Scrape by Archie McDonald

  • The Alamo

  • Gonzales, Texas

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