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Texas | Columns | "Wandering"

Alcalde,
not alcade

by Wanda Orton
Wanda Orton

Looks like I knocked the L out of it.

It's supposed to be a seven-letter word referring to an important judicial/administrative/law enforcement position held by Irish immigrant and early Texas pioneer Humphrey Jackson.

Sin of omission: By the time I got through with the word in an article published in The Baytown Sun alcalde became alcade.

When a reader told me what I had done, I was so embarrassed. If in doubt, all I had to do was glance at the bookshelf near my desk. There is it is in big bold letters, ALCALDE, the name of my husband's yearbook from Sam Houston State University.

Oh well, I could use the spelling mishap as an excuse to write again about one of my favorite subjects, Humphrey Jackson, the first Texas colonist to settle in Crosby in eastern Harris Country and the ancestor of a well-known Chambers County family.


They were never called alcaldes, but a number of Jackson's descendants have been involved in the similar work for generations. Ever since Humphrey's son James served as Chambers County Judge, there's been a Jackson serving as a judge, district attorney, surveyor, constable, justice of the peace or private attorney.

Must be in the DNA -- Humphrey's father was a member of the Irish Parliament. But Humphrey didn't come to America to be an alcalde. Truth known, he was relieved when he lost his last bid for election in 1830 after serving since 1824. He never sought that time-consuming responsibility.

When he left Ireland for the New World, Humphrey settled in Louisiana just in time to fight under the command of another Jackson - Andrew - in the War of 1812. He and his family moved to Texas in 1823.

In 1824 the Baron de Bastrop, on behalf of the Mexican government, presented him the title to his land, including the spot where he already had built a home near the San Jacinto River. He received the land grant during a ceremony in the home of William Scott on Scott's Bay, a popular gathering place for Stephen F. Austin colonists.

Ten days later Jackson was elected alcalde and militia captain in the San Jacinto District which covered most of present-day Harris Country. Soon enough, he was trying to reason with the unreasonable in a round of disputes that — begora! -- reminded him of his home land.

For example, James Strange, whose home occupied space known now as the Baytown Nature Center, accused Nathaniel Lynch of treading on his turf. Lynch had moved his eastern boundary of Lynchburg a number of times, encroaching on Strange's land, but Lynch's excuse was that Scott had moved his boundary too far west.

Jackson, as alcalde, ended the dispute with the help of four arbitrators. I don't know the details of the settlement, but I presume both Lynch and Scott were told to back off. Besides having to deal with local area disputes, running the gamut from grounded schooners to unpaid bills and land surveys, Jackson had to go to Nacogdoches to help quell the biggest dispute of that time - the Fredonian Rebellion.

Historian Andrew Forest Muir wrote: "Jackson did not relish his job as alcalde. He entered the office with misgivings. He was completely tired of the job and looked forward to the approaching end of his term when he would be no more than a good citizen again."

In spite of not liking his work, Jackson never neglected his duties as alcalde. "I will do all that lies in my power to keep harmony in the district," he said.



© Wanda Orton Baytown Sun Columnist
"Wandering" August 3, 2017 column


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    Wanda Orton's "Wandering"

  • Walking 7-16-17
  • Boat races in bay area go back to the 1800s 7-1-17
  • Sayings 5-23-17
  • Man and wife without a country 5-3-17
  • Not a happy camper in Angelina County 4-17-17

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