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Dickinson and Kimble...
Heroic hat makers at the Alamo

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
In 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.


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 the child.


Dickinson's 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."


D
ickinson 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 to enjoy.

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.

Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary May 12 , 2004 Column

See The Alamo
Gonzales, Texas
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