Henry Karnes, Karnes City and Karnes County

Henry Wax Karnes was a soldier in the Texas Revolution and later was a Texas Ranger.  He was born in Tennessee in 1812 and grew up in Arkansas. He first came to Texas on a visit in 1828 and later returned for good in 1835 when he enlisted in the army under Captain John York.  One of the first battles he is known to have participated in was the Battle of Concepción (on the grounds of Mission Concepción) and later in the Siege of Bexar.  He was also associated with Erastus “Deaf” Smith and is thought to be the first to deliver the news to Sam Houston of the fall of the Alamo mission to Santa Anna.


(Mission Concepción)

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Sherman, Texas

The town of Sherman is located in Grayson County.  It was named for General Sidney Sherman (1805-1873) who during the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 is the person credited for shouting the battle cry “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!”  In 1846, the Texas legislature had created Grayson County out of Fannin County and designated Sherman as the new county seat.  Sherman gained its first post office in 1847.  It was fairly well established by 1850 and later became a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail route.

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John Coffee Hays, Texas Ranger


Ranger John Coffee “Jack” Hays was born in Little Cedar Lick, Wilson County, Tennessee, January 28, 1817.  In “Texas Rising,” he seems to be a somewhat less important character, likely because most of his service as a Texas Ranger occurred after the Texas Revolution.  Hays was related to Andrew Jackson’s family in that Mrs. Jackson was his great aunt.  His father fought with Andrew Jackson and gave Jack his middle name Coffee in honor of Gen. John Coffee who had also served under Jackson.

When Hays was still a young man, he left Tennessee and moved to Mississippi where he learned surveying.  Some accounts have him coming to Texas in 1836, early enough to serve under Erastus “Deaf” Smith and Henry W. Karnes while others maintain that he arrived in late 1837 or early 1838.  Regardless, he had settled in San Antonio  by February, 1840 and apparently “rangered” while he also served as a surveyor.  He fought in the Battle of Plumb Creek and in 1840 he became Captain of a company of Rangers under Mirabeau B. Lamar, during the interim years after the Texas Revolution but before the Mexican-American War.  In addition to Plum Creek, he was also involved in action at Cañon de Ugalde, Bandera Pass and Painted Rock. Continue reading John Coffee Hays, Texas Ranger

Erastus “Deaf” Smith

Erastus “Deaf” (pronounced “Deef”) Smith was an admirable person in “Texas Rising” and one in which the character of the individual may closely match the one portrayed in the miniseries.  His hearing loss was not complete, but was significant after suffering an illness some years prior to the Texas Revolution.  In some accounts, it was referred to as “consumption” (most likely, tuberculosis) which may have contributed to his death, though contemporary accounts were not specific as to the actual cause of death.  One newspaper account simply read, “His iron frame has sunk under the severe fatigues and exposures to which he has too willingly subjected himself.”

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Emily D. West


She is the traditional subject of the song “Yellow Rose of Texas” and one of the more compelling characters in the miniseries “Texas Rising” which just completed its debut run on the History Channel.  In it, the character has an affair with Mexican General Santa Anna and is occupying his attention leading up to the battle.  In addition, she may have had personal motives of revenge that led to her desire to see Santa Anna defeated.

The familiar song does not deal with San Jacinto or Santa Anna.  It was composed in the 1800s, although the actual name of the composer is unknown.

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