Byrd Lockhart

Byrd Lockhart (1782-1839) is the namesake for Lockhart, Texas. He was born to Byrd (Sr.) (1750 – about 1813) and Sarah Williamson Lockhart (1763-1831).

Lockhart came to Texas around 1826. There is some confusion about Byrd’s marital status that cannot presently be resolved. The Handbook of Texas Online says that Byrd was a widower by 1826, the year that he came to Texas. Other genealogical accounts suggest that his wife of about eighteen years passed away in 1830 or 1831 after he came to Texas. No other spouse is listed for him besides a Mary Elizabeth Barton or an Eliza Barton. In addition, more genealogy records list Byrd’s spouse as one Mary Elizabeth Barton who was clearly married to another individual and living in Kentucky. This person lived well into her senior years and died in 1861. Though she is sometimes linked to Byrd Lockhart, she was continuously married for nearly forty years to a Clement H. Waring until his death in 1853. Over time, this couple had many children. The time period of the Waring-Barton marriage eclipses the possible dates of Byrd’s marriage to his wife (about 1813 to about 1826 or possibly 1831).

If that were not enough, this potential relationship is further confused since this same Mary Elizabeth Barton Waring had a brother and sister (Catherine Wise Barton and Kimber Barton) who each married siblings of Byrd Lockhart. Catherine Wise Barton married William Charles (or Charles William) Lockhart and Kimber Barton married Margaret Lockhart. It is the association of these members of the Lockhart and Barton families that probably leads people to assume that the Barton sister Mary Elizabeth was the wife of Byrd Lockhart. Many times, confusing and seemingly conflicting facts can be reconciled by modern genealogical records, but not in the case of Byrd Lockhart. His wife cannot be conclusively identified.

Aside from the confusion regarding his marital status, the rest of Byrd’s story seems to hold together fairly well. He became a colonist in Green DeWitt’s colony. Other siblings joined him. His family unit was said to include two of his children (unnamed), his sister Margaret and his widowed mother. There Byrd was a surveyor by trade. Like many other Anglo residents of Texas before the Texas Revolution, Lockhart pledged loyalty to the Mexican government and opposed the Fredonian Rebellion, as Stephen F. Austin had also done. Lockhart seems to have settled in or around Gonzales and served there defending against attacks from the local tribes. Though he personally does not seem to have lived there, he received land around Plum Creek (near the current town of Lockhart) in exchange for opening a road from Béxar (San Antonio) to Matagorda Bay.

Military/political career: He was appointed as commissioner in February 1836 by the provisional Texas government in San Felipe to recruit and muster a contingent of Gonzales Rangers, which he did that month. Lockhart served as a scout under James W. Fannin during the Texas Revolution and participated in the Siege of Béxar at the rank of private under the leadership of a Captain York. He was not present at the Alamo during Santa Anna’s siege and the battle that followed as he was out obtaining provisions and supplies during that two week period. He was discharged from duty in 1836. Byrd is believed to have died of natural causes in 1839 in Brazoria County and is said to be buried in Columbia Cemetery there.

If the Lockhart family is characterized by anything it is that they were devoted to certain family names. Though this is a wonderful family tradition, it also can make it difficult to differentiate between members having the same or similar names.

At least one more of Byrd’s siblings figure into early Texas events. His brother Andrew (married to Esther Briggs) had a daughter named Matilda Lockhart. Andrew was born in Virginia about 1781. The family was living in Ohio by the time Andrew married Esther Briggs in 1810. Siblings from the Lockhart family married siblings in the Briggs family, too as Esther’s brother Robert was the husband of Andrew’s younger sister Mary “Polly” Lockhart. Andrew had served in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry during the War of 1812. He, Esther and their children came to Texas as part of the Green DeWitt Colony and originally settled near the present location of Cuero. Matilda was one of several children including at least four children of the Putman family who were seized by the Comanche while the children were out gathering pecans only about one hundred yards from their home near Gonzales, during a raid in 1838.

Sam Houston, the first President of the Republic of Texas, was known to have been conciliatory toward the native tribes, especially the Cherokee with whom he had lived for a time. Mirabeau B. Lamar, who succeeded him, was exactly the opposite. It has been said of Lamar that he favored expulsion to extermination to solve the problem of Indian depredations. The two had openly disagreed on this and other issues. In response to Indian attacks, Lamar essentially ordered the Cherokee to leave Texas or face annihilation. When they refused, he ordered the Texas militia to attack them, which they did in the “Battle of the Neches” in July of 1839.

There were a number of attempts at negotiations between the Comanche and the settlers to try and achieve peace and also accomplish the return of known captives. The Texans made a number of demands of the Comanches that just over one dozen known Anglo and Mexican hostages be returned to their families in San Antonio at a prearranged meeting place.

When the appointed day came, Matilda Lockhart was the only captive who was returned and she showed unmistakable signs of abuse at the hands of some individual tribe members. The gruesome details of her appearance revealed evidence of cruel and inhumane treatment. The Comanche leaders in attendance also said that the other hostages were held by different bands and that no one leader could speak for them all.

Matilda’s condition and the lack of any other hostages being returned helped to touch off the March 19, 1840 Council House Fight which resulted in tribe members being killed, wounded or held hostage themselves. The council deteriorated, resulting in the deaths of twelve of the unarmed Comanche leaders who were shot inside the Council House. Another twenty-tree were shot in the streets of San Antonio and thirty more taken captive, against seven Anglos who died. This was essentially the end of peace negotiations with the Comanche. In retaliation for the deaths of the Comanche at San Antonio, all the other hostages were killed. This was followed by the so called Great Raid of 1840 in which the town of Victoria and Linnville were attacked and also sacked. This in turn led to the Battle of Plum Creek in August, 1840, coincidentally near the present town of Lockhart, which was considered to be a defeat for the Comanche. Later conflicts revealed the hard feelings between the Anglos and Comanche. Raids and skirmishes between the groups went on for several more decades.

Matilda Lockhart is understood to have never fully recovered from her experience as a captive and she is believed to have died around 1843. Both of her parents, Andrew and Esther, followed her in death in 1846. Of the Putman children, the accounts sometimes use different names, but a daughter and son (possibly Sarah and James Putman) were eventually ransomed. A three year old girl (possibly Lucy Putman) was originally believed to have killed and buried with the Comanche woman she had been given to, after that individual had died. She was likely returned to her family, but not until after 27 years had passed. Another daughter (possibly Rhonda Putman) was not soon recovered and her fate is still unknown.

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Gay Hill, Texas

Though perhaps not as familiar a name as either Independence or Washington, there is a great deal of Texas history that is connected to the former residents of this small community. Gay Hill was named for Thomas Gay and William Carroll Jackson Hill. Gay and Hill were said to have been store owners in this Washington County settlement, though some accounts say that only Hill owned the store. The settlement was originally known as Chriesman Settlement after Horatio Chriesman (1797-1878).

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Washington-on-the-Brazos

On April 29, 1900, the Houston Post carried an article commemorating an address in Brenham given by the Hon. Harry Haynes, formerly of the state legislature serving Washington County the previous San Jacinto Day. Haynes recounted some of the early history of Washington County. In it, he said that on June 17, 1819, a force of 30 men under General James Long left Natchez, Mississippi for the area to the west that was then under the control of Spain. By the time they arrived at Nacogdoches, they numbered 300 men. Long split the forces to explore both the Brazos and Trinity Rivers and establish fortifications. Along the way some of the troops encountered Spanish or Mexican troops, dispersed and returned to Louisiana. Among those who remained, some of them serving under a Captain James Walker came to a place on the Brazos which Walker initially called La Bahia. Captain John W. Hall had also passed through the area several years earlier and had been attracted to it but there was little or no settlement there by Anglos until the early 1820s.

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La Reunion Community

This Day in Texas (Austin American, Austin, Texas, June 16, 1950)”

June 16 – “On this day in 1855 some 200 immigrants arrived to swell the population of the newly established colony of La Reunion on the west bank of the Trinity River, near present-day Dallas.

La Reunion had been founded by Victor Prosper Considerant, a wealthy Frenchman who was an ardent disciple of the outstanding 19th century Socialist, Charles Marie Fourier. The town was carefully built, rows of small houses around a small square. The government was like that of democratic Athens, by general assembly, and the only punishment ever imposed was banishment from the colony.

One of the first activities of the colony was to found a school of vocal music, and the strains of their songs floated across the river to where a grimmer breed of men and women was pursuing the rituals of everyday existence. In time, the La Reunion colonists joined them., for their lands had been poorly chosen, the farmers were unenthusiastic and the terrain was poorly drained. By 1856 the colonists were drifting away.

The Frenchmen never had sought to prevent their daughters from marrying American settlers across the river and the settlement was completely absorbed within a generation.”

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