How The State Was Born: In conjunction with Texas Independence Week, Bosque Museum welcomes Jackson, Lummus to deliver historical lecture on how the Republic of Texas took shape
CLIFTON – Bosque County Celebrates Texas Independence Week began in 2008 with a group of interested Texans who wanted to celebrate Texas Independence in Bosque County. Their purpose is to encourage and promote education regarding Texas Independence Day and the state and local history of Texas and its people. And Bosque Museum’s mission is to protect and preserve Bosque County’s historic and prehistoric resources for the use, education, enjoyment, and economic benefit of the public it serves.
Marrying both groups, as part of the Bosque Celebrates Texas Independence Week, the Bosque Museum hosted a lecture on “The First Ten Years of the Republic of Texas.” from Texas historian, former probate judge David D. Jackson and a lecture by Charles Lummus on Torrey Trading Post #2 in Waco.
Jackson is a retired probate judge operates a fine antique gun shop in University Park, Tx – The Jackson Armory. Lummus is an avid gun collector and friend of Jackson’s. Both provided a lecture on rare guns Bosque Celebrates Texas Independence Week in 2020.
After a welcome by Bosque Museum Director Erin Shields and First State Security Bank’s Tom Henderson, Jackson explained that the first 10 years of Texas were rife with political squabbles between Spain, France, Mexico, and the United States – four of the six flags that have flown over Texas. The other two are the Lone Star flag of the Republic and during the Civil War, the Confederate States of America
In his lecture, Jackson provided the process of wars, treaties and political dealings on how Texas was born after six nations had claimed sovereignty over Texas. And how over the years between 1803 and 1846, the Texas territories were reshaped into the iconic shape we know today.
In negotiations by French and American diplomats, the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 left a definite border between the United States and Spain undecided. At that time, Texas boundaries roughly were major rivers like Sabine, Red River and Rio Grande, the Rockies, with a strip going through Colorado, all the way to Cheyenne in Wyoming – see map. This created uncertainty leading to border squabbles about what was Mexican, Spanish or Texas territory.
When Spain lost the revolutionary war with Mexico, Anglo settlers were allowed to cross legally into Mexican Texas, if they promised to join the Catholic Church and not to bring slaves. Many settlers however ignored these requirements.
Then came the Texas Revolution 1835-1836 to break free of Mexico and to become a republic with a massive amount of land, but without a currency of its own. Between 1836 -1845, notes and bonds were sold and secured by the land, but that left the new republic in a $10 million debt.
Jackson then went on to explain the complicated diplomatic process leading up to the annexation into the United States. Texas would cede its public property, such as forts and custom houses, to the United States, but it kept its public lands. The State retained its $10 million debt though. The region could be divided into four new states in addition to the original Texas to get rid of the debt. And the United States would negotiate the Rio Grande boundary claim.
After the 11th President James Knox Polk signed the annexation bill into law and formally recognized Texas as the 28th state of the Union, Texas President Anson Jones’ final official act in Austin on February 19, 1846, was to preside over the transfer of power. At the ceremony setting up the government of Texas as a state in the Union, Jones delivered a short and simple address, concluding, "The final act in this great drama is now performed. The Republic of Texas is no more."
Then, with his own hands, he lowered the flag of the Republic of Texas for the last time.
Lummus’ lecture focused on the first trading store in Texas. As the Republic went through its first steps, the land west of the Gatesville-Waco line was still wild. Supported by President Sam Houston – known to prefer negotiations with Indian tribes that fighting with them – George and Charles Barnard began operating Torrey’s Trading Post #2 on a small tributary of Tehuacana Creek, south of the old Waco Village in 1844. The post had a near monopoly of the Texas Indian trade and there was a large Hueco Indian settlement nearby. The trading post even had a gunsmith who repaired Indians’ guns.
Today, a Texas historic marker marks the spot of the former trading post. The plaque reads “Site of greatest Indian council in Republic of Texas. There President Sam Houston made famous 1844 peace talks to assembled chiefs. A "listening post" for frontier; aided in peacekeeping. Built 1844 and run by Geo. Barnard for the Torrey Brothers. In 1849 the post was moved to Waco by Barnard. (1966)”
The Torreys' trading activities were a vital part of Houston's peace policy and acted as a civilizing agent for the Indians. The Torreys conducted a significant fur trade – in buffalo and deer hides – assisted in the establishment of New Braunfels, recovered stolen horses and mules and captives from the Indians.
One of the Comanche captives was Hispanic 16-year-old Juana Cavasas. The ransomed girl had who spent three months roaming with a tribe, went on to marry Charles and bear him 14 children, only four of whom survived to adulthood.
When George and Charles acquired a large tract of acreage near Comanche Peak in Hood County in 1849 for $3250.00, they founded a trading post to be operated by Charles and Juana. Charles bought out his brother George’s interest in the trading post in 1859, the same year the Army moved all Indians to the Fort Belknap Reservation as the frontier moved further and further West.
The trading post rapidly declined as a result, and Charles built a grist mill on the Paluxy River as a new enterprise. The town of Glen Rose grew up around the mill. Because they basically were Glen Rose’s founding settlers, they are immortalized with a large bronze statue by Robert summers called “The Barnards of the Brazos: First Family of Glen Rose.”
When Charles sold the mill in 1870, the Barnard’s returned to the trading post and occupied it as their personal residence until their deaths; Charles in 1900 and Juana in 1906. The Barnard Mill on the Paluxy River is now an art museum.
The Bosque Museum offers the Juana Cavasas story in a book by Pearl Andrus with a foreword by Texas author John Graves who wrote “Goodbye to a River” about his beloved Brazos. She might not be as renowned as Cynthia Ann Parker or Herman Lehmann, but her story is just as fascinating, just like Bosque County Ole Nystel’s story of his capture as a 14-year-old in 1867 and release by Comanche Indians.
George remained in Waco, buying Lot 1/Block 1 when the City of Waco was established.
Lummus had brought three guns to view. They lay with wonderfully worn wooden stocks, long, unwieldy barrels, antique flint locks, the first percussion fire arms, and a whole lot of history on the table beside the lectern. After the lecture, guests were able marvel at the guns up close and ask questions about the rare guns at hand. Each gun had either a special history, or a special story on how it found its way into a collector’s possession.
The guns on display were:
- A 1816 Tryon flint lock, muzzle loader musket made in Philadephia, bearing the Torrey stamp and Texas Star. It is a very rare gun. It is worth around $45,000. Lummus spent the better part of two years tracking down the deceased owner’s son. “It should be in the Ranger museum,” Lummus said. “That’s where it should go when I die.”
- A half stock percussion rifle, also with the Torrey Brothers lable on the side.
- A full stock percussion rifle from tiger stripe maple. “A good old Texas gun,” according to Jackson.
Jackson explained the workings of a flint lock gun, explaining the saying “flash in the pan,” – the misfiring in which there is only sparks, but no ignition of the gunpowder.
The flintlock is designed to create a spark to light the gunpowder stored in the barrel of the gun which propels the bullet. To create this spark, the flintlock uses the "flint and steel" approach. The flint hits the iron or steel, and flakes off tiny particles of iron. The force of the blow and the friction it creates ignites the iron, and it burns rapidly to form Fe3O4. The sparks on firing are the burning iron. When the sparks come near gunpowder, they ignite it.
The flintlock was later replaced with the percussion, which was a much faster mechanism.
Visitors to the lecture, who included Cleburne Layland Museum Director Stephanie Montero also had the opportunity to view the Bosque Museum’s firearm collection which includes 150 long guns and handguns dating from the 1750s to modern times.
According to Jackson, the museum’s most interesting gun is the so called “Buffalo Gun” with hexagonal barrel – a Sharp’s model 1874 Sporting 45-70. It is apparently worth “thousands.” Jackson also commented that he was impressed by the collection, and that they were all correctly identified – which is hard to do.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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