on their swampy camp site near Clear Creek, the teen-ager tried to calm her younger
siblings terrified by cannon fire in the distance.
“It’s going to be all
right, nothing to be scared about,” Mary Smith told the little ones as she tried
to conceal her own fears.
It was a day to remember, April 21, 1836, and
in years to come the former refugee in the Runaway
Scrape – better known in Texas
history as Mrs. Anson Jones – often told the story. “We heard the cannon’s
roar with blanched cheeks and trembling nerves for what fate awaited us in case
Mary’s family had fled Brazoria,
heading toward Lynchburg, and from there they planned to keep going until they
They never made it past Clear Creek.
sounds of battle subsided, Mary grew even more fearful. What happens now? Will
Santa Anna’s soldiers, surely the victors in the one-sided battle, start a widespread
search for rebels and refugees?
was a worrier. Fraught with the hard times that beset most 19th century pioneers,
she had learned to hope for the best but to expect the worst.
to her, the best was yet to come for the newly formed Republic of Texas that,
nearly a decade later would become a state.
In that one-sided battle in 1836, David will beat Goliath, Texas will win its
independence. Gen. Sam Houston
will be elected president and the capitol will be located in a new city named
Mary’s family will move to Houston
and she will marry Hugh McCrory. Their marriage license will be the first to be
issued in Houston. Unexpectedly, McCrory
will die only two months after their wedding in 1837.
in 1840 Mary will marry Dr.
Anson Jones, a medical doctor and San
Jacinto veteran already renowned as a statesman in the new Texas government.
They will name their first child after Sam
Houston but later on Anson
will change the name to Sam Edward. (That’s another story.) Other children will
be Charles, Cromwell and Sarah. Anson
Jones will serve as the last president of the Republic.
death in 1859, Mary and the four children will move from Washington-on-the-Brazos
and shortly afterward – with much assistance from Dr. Ashbel Smith -- to Goose
During the Civil War, her sons, Sam and Charles, will join
Smith’s Bayland Guards, along with Sam Houston Jr. from Cedar Point. Charles will
be killed in action at Shiloh.
After the war, Sam Jones will run their
farm at Goose Creek
and eventually become a dentist. Cromwell will be elected Harris County Judge,
presiding over Commissioners Court from 1876 to 1882, and Sarah will marry Richard
Gaston Ashe of Cedar Bayou.
Mary Jones will sell her farm at Goose
Creek and move to Willis
in Montgomery County and finally to Houston.
In 1891 she will help organize the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and serve
as its first president.
So, that’s how life will be for the last First
Lady of the Republic of Texas, ranging from that fateful day on April 21, 1836,
until her death on Dec. 31, 1907.
And during that time frame, Mrs. Anson
Jones – the frightened teen-ager during the Runaway
Scrape -- will become one of the most admired women in Texas.
Wanda Orton Baytown
April 7, 2013 columns
Topics: Anson Jones
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