1836, the little village of Gonzales
was on the western most outskirts of the Texas frontier.
Try to imagine this small community along the banks of the Guadalupe
River, made up mostly of log buildings with dirt floors. The settlers
built their town next to the Guadalupe for two major reasons; protection
and water. The original town near Kerr Creek was abandoned after Indians
destroyed it. The citizens hoped that the new town site, with the
river on one side, would be easier to defend.
The main street of the town, in those days, was Water Street (where
the Hwy. 183 bypass is today). Old maps from 1836 show that the majority
of the town's commerce was located along that little dirt road.
There was the normal assortment of dry-goods stores, blacksmith shops,
and a hat factory. According to The Handbook of Texas, two
gentlemen who would later fight and die at the Alamo,
were the hat makers. The establishment was the Dickinson and Kimble
Hat Factory; the partners were George C. Kimble and Almaron Dickinson.
along with his wife Susanna, moved to Gonzales in 1831 and joined
Green DeWitt's colony. He received a league of land on the San Marcos
River in what is now Caldwell County. Dickinson was in the battle
of Gonzales on October 2, 1835, and later joined the newly formed
Texas army in its siege of San Antonio. He served the Alamo as a captain
in charge of artillery. Dickinson was well suited for this task; he
had once been in an artillery unit with the United States Army.
Almaron Dickinson's wife and small child were with him when Mexican
troops stormed over the Alamo walls on March 6, 1836. Susanna Dickinson
and her baby daughter, Angelina, were among the few survivors. Mrs.
Dickinson became known as the "messenger of the Alamo" when she brought
the news of the massacre back to the citizens of Gonzales. Later she
would recall how her husband rushed up to her just before he died
and stated that all was lost. He told her to try to save herself and
partner in the hat-making business was another of those Alamo heroes.
George C. Kimble was one of the original citizens of Gonzales. He
moved to Texas from New York in 1825. In June of 1832, he married
Prudence Nash; they had two children. He later formed his partnership
with Almaron Dickinson and the hat factory on Water Street was born.
In February of 1836, Kimble was mustered into the Gonzales Ranging
Company of Mounted Volunteers. He was the commander of that unit and
led his men into the Alamo
on March 1, 1836. This group of heroes, from Gonzales, would be the
only ones to answer the beleaguered garrison's desperate plea for
reinforcements. Because of their extreme bravery and sacrifice, Kimble
and his men will forever be known as the "Immortal 32."
and Kimble weren't much different from today's ambitious young people.
The hat makers were eager to be successful and raise a family. They
came to Texas for the free land and other opportunities. But as with
most things, the land wasn't exactly free; it eventually had to be
fought for. And fight they did, winning the land and freedom for others
I see the little hat factory on Water Street as a symbol of something
that patriotic Americans have been doing for years. In every generation,
brave individuals seem to always step forward to defend family, neighbor,
and country. Exceptional people willing to give all they have, including
their life, for the protection of others.
Star Diary May 12 , 2004 Column
See The Alamo