entourage of sad people made their way from the smoking ruins of the
Alamo to what would
soon be the smoking ruins of Gonzales,
Texas. This group of people consisted of Susannah
Dickinson, her baby daughter Angelina, Ben, the free black servant
of Col. Almonte and Joe the black servant to Col. William Travis.
Joe, in fear, had made a quick departure from that Alamo
and began to make his way toward Gonzales.
To his relief, Susannah, Ben and the baby caught up with him and he
didnít have to make the trip alone.
Anxious for news, Sam Houston had sent army scouts, Henry Karnes,
Smith and Robert Handy towards San
Antonio. The scouts met up with Susannah and her escorts and guided
them back to Gonzales.
News of their arrival preceded the group to Gonzales
and as they drew closer to the town, the women and children anxiously
gathered to hear the news of their loved ones at the Alamo.
From the lips of Susannah the
news she delivered informed them that they were all now widows and
orphans. No one took the news any harder than Mary Millsap, wife of
Isaac Millsap, Gonzales Ranger. Isaac was the oldest defender at the
Alamo and Mary was now
one of the oldest widows. Not only was Mary left with the burden of
seven children to raise but she had been blind for many years depending
on Isaac and her oldest children for almost everything.
Her mind raced back to the day the men rode out and to the cherished
last letter that had arrived only a few days ago.
ďMy Dear, Dear Ones,
We are in the fortress of the Alamo
a ruined church that has most fell down. The Mexicans are here in
Large numbers they have kept up a constant fire since we got here.
All our boys are well & Capt. Martin in good spirits. Early this morning
I watched the Mexicans drilling just out of range they were marching
up and down with such order. They have bright red and blue uniforms
and many canons. Some here at this place believe that the main army
has not come up yet. I think they are all here even Santanna. Col
Bowie is down sick and had to be to bed I saw him yesterday & he is
still ready to fight. He didnít know me from last spring but did remember
Wash. He tells me that help will be here soon & it makes us feel good.
We have beer and corn to eat but no coffee, bag I had bell off on
the way here so it was split. I have not seen Travis but 2 times since
here he told us all this morning that Fanning was going to be here
early with many men and there would be a good fight. He stays on the
wall some but mostly to hi room I hope help comes soon cause we canít
fight them all. Some says he is going to talk some tonight & group
us better for Defense. If we fail here get to the river with the children
all Texas will be before the enemy we get so little news here we know
nothing. There is no discontent in our boys some are tired from loss
of sleep and rest. The Mexicans are shooting every few minutes but
most of the shots fall inside & no harm. I donít know what else to
say they are calling for all letters, kiss the dear children for me
be well & God protects us all.
If any men come through there tell them to hurry with powder for
it is short I hope you get this & know---I love you all.
are rumors that this letter is fabrication. The signature here did
not match another signature made by Isaac. As far as the signature,
Isaac may have been illiterate and had someone else pen his name.
So is it or isnít it, I will allow you the reader to decide.
The widows of Gonzales
hung around for a bit letting the words that Susannah
delivered sink in. The strength of these women showed on their faces
as they listened to every word Susannah
said about the fate of their loved ones. The crowd disbursed after
Susannah delivered the letter
to Houston from Santa Anna. They seemed to know that soon their lives
would be changing forever.
Millsap had no time to grieve. She had her children pack what few
belongings they could carry and with the help of her oldest daughter
Mary did as Isaac told her to do, they started for the river. The
next evening, as Houstonís remaining army burned the town of Gonzales,
the women and children fled behind the soldiers towards Louisiana
and away from the wrath of Santa Anna. This daring trek by these desperate
people would be recorded in history as The
In the haste and confusion of the departure from Gonzales,
the refugees would be several miles east before someone realized that
Mary Millsap and her children were not with them. General Sam Houston,
when informed of this news sent a couple of his personal guards and
a wagon to search for Mary. They found her and the children hidden
in the brush not far from the river.
Mary and the other evacuees found the trip extremely difficult. It
was great news the day of the
battle of San Jacinto. But now, what would they do. Left alone
except for her children proved to be a great burden for this very
strong lady. Mary realized that the widows and orphans of the Alamo
were not to receive any support. In her desperation she sent a plea
to the Republic of Texas.
ďTo the Honorable members of the Senate and House of Representatives
of the Republic of Texas in Congress assembled. Your petitioner the
under signed begs leave to represent that she is the widow of Isaac
Millsaps who fell in the Alamo
on the 6th of March 1836. While fighting under the command of the
gallant Travis, that in March 1835 he had made application for lands
in Austinís colony which will be seen by reference to the books of
that colony now in the general land office that about that time he
selected and settled upon a League of Land on the head waters of Labaca
where he with his family resided when he was called to the defense
of the country and where we were when they heard of the retreat of
Houston and the advance of the Mexican forces. My self-blind and seven
small children were not allowed one hour to prepare and no means of
transportation we left all behind were thrown upon the world helpless
and destitute in this situation. I have been struggling for 2 years
and not able to return to the place we left. The prayer of your petitioner
is that you pay an act to secure to me and my children land selected
by my husband as I am informed that a man by the name of Jujac Roberson
is making surveys that will interfere with my rights.
The Republic of Texas granted Mary two hundred dollars annually for
ten years with one hundred dollars paid in advance. The first payment
made on November 21, 1838. Mary was unable to pay the taxes on the
4,505.5 acres and on March 3, 1840 she sold the land for one hundred
and fifteen dollars to James A. Sylvester.
Somehow she managed, as did many others, to survive the situation.
What actually happened to Mary and her children, they just blended
into Texas like the rest. The strength of people like Mary and the
others became the backbone and support of the state of Texas. Texas
is what it is today because of the foundation laid by these individuals.