and researchers of Texas history
are inundated with information about the heroes of the Texas Revolution. But more
often than not, the history books don’t tell us much about ordinary soldiers who
also served Texas in the cause of freedom.
One such man was Spencer Houston
Jack. As an early settler, Jack left his home in Georgia and came to Texas
in 1830 with his brother William, and William’s family. According to The Handbook
of Texas Online, the brothers first settled in San
Felipe de Austin. And Spencer Jack was said to have been the first colonist
to draw Mexican blood in the days preceding the revolution.
It seems Jack
was involved in an altercation with Mexican soldiers while he was aboard a ship
that was attempting to leave the mouth of the Brazos River without permission
from Mexican authorities. Jack was aboard the Nelson when it was fired on by the
Mexicans – Jack supposedly grabbed a rifle and wounded one of the soldiers. An
arrest warrant was issued for Jack and he decided it might be a better idea to
flee Texas and lay low for a while in the United
While he was away, Mexican authorities in Anahuac
imprisoned Jack’s brother, Patrick C. Jack, and William Barret Travis. In June
1832, Jack and brother William marched to the town and demanded the release of
Patrick Jack and Travis. After an armed confrontation with other Texans coming
to their rescue, the authorities were forced to free Patrick Jack and Travis.
One these men would become a celebrated martyr – William Barret Travis was the
gallant commander who died at the Alamo.
Patrick Jack was well known as a representative from Brazoria in the second congress
of the Republic of Texas.
After the excitement at Anahuac,
Spencer Jack was issued a title to one-fourth league of land in what would eventually
become Lavaca County. However, he didn’t seem to care much for settling down in
any one location, but continued to be involved in the business of bringing new
families to Texas.
Jack spent some time in
San Antonio where he got into more
trouble with Mexican authorities – he was accused of cutting one official’s nose.
Several months later, in his role as an attorney, Jack along with another lawyer
named Grayson, went to Mexico City to try and negotiate the release of Stephen
F. Austin who had been imprisoned there by Santa Anna. Austin was eventually
let out on bail.
With the talk of revolution on everyone’s lips; September
1835, found Jack obtaining more land. He received title to ten leagues which was
being sold by the Mexican government to finance a frontier force for fighting
Indians. It is important to remember that in 1835, Texas was still part of Mexico
and its residents, including those from the United States, were Mexican citizens.
Evidently, Jack had other interests besides acquiring land – he was also
involved in the shipping business. One source indicates that he had some cargo
aboard the schooner Martha, which was docked at Galveston.
A Mexican warship seized this vessel and Jack’s cargo was confiscated. This incident
was just more fuel for the fire, and Jack was determined to continue in the fight
for Texas Independence.
a soldier in the siege of Bexar, Jack received more land for his military service
to Texas and was granted 320 acres in Blanco County.
He served in the Texas army from July 30 to October 30, 1836.
that Jack never really settled down and there isn’t any indication that he spent
much time on the property in Lavaca County or on any of his other land. However,
there’s no doubt that he was a lively individual who loved to be any place that
included a fight – he was typical of those adventurers who were involved in the
early days of the Texas Revolution.
he died in Matagorda County in 1837, Jack evidently left his holdings to his brother
William; according to information filed in Brazoria County. The remains of the
brothers Spencer, William, and Patrick Jack are buried in the State
Cemetery at Austin.
Star Diary October
6 , 2009 Column