Tag Archives: texas rising

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. Read the rest of this entry »


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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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“Texas Rising”


I hope you had a chance to watch “Texas Rising” on the History Channel over the last month and a half.  It was entertaining.  I know that some characters in the series were fictional or their stories were highly fictionalized, so this summer I will try to find the real stories of their lives, starting with Emily D. West, Jack Hays and Erastus (Deaf) Smith.  I was also intrigued by Juan Seguin and the other Hispanic residents of Texas who fought with Houston against the Mexican Army.  These were my takeaways from “Texas Rising.”  I am grateful to the History Channel for the project, but the armchair historian in me always appreciates the real stories behind the fictional ones.


Posted by on June 22, 2015 in history, texas, texas rising


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Bigfoot Wallace and the Bandito Vidal

William A. A. “Bigfoot” Wallace lived from 1817-1899 and was a Texas Ranger, one of 30 to be inducted into the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. He came to Texas after the death of his brother and a cousin at the hands of the Mexican Army at Goliad in 1836, intending to somehow even the score for his lost relatives. Wallace is believed to have many times exacted his revenge, though he was captured and imprisoned by the Mexican Army himself in the early days of 1843 in the so called “Black Bean Episode,” which he survived. Wallace is mentioned in many other historical accounts as he fought as a Ranger in the Mexican-American War, continued to serve as a Texas Ranger during the 1850s and beyond. He did not serve in the Civil War, electing instead to remain in Texas to guard the borders against Indians, renegades and Union soldiers.  The young State of Texas benefited from an uneasy arrangement with the Confederate Army to allow some Rangers to remain in place to defend the frontier.

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