Land!: Irish Pioneers in Mexican and Revolutionary Texas

Overview

The only successful European impresarios in mid-nineteenth century Mexican Texas—men authorized to bring immigrants to settle the vast spaces of Mexico's northern territories—were Irish. On their land grants, Irish settlers founded Refugio and San Patricio and went on to take active roles in the economic and political development of Texas. It required a hardy spirit and strong ambition to weather the perils that accompanied these opportunities—the long journey, shipwrecks, hostile Indians, injury and disease—and ...

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Overview

The only successful European impresarios in mid-nineteenth century Mexican Texas—men authorized to bring immigrants to settle the vast spaces of Mexico's northern territories—were Irish. On their land grants, Irish settlers founded Refugio and San Patricio and went on to take active roles in the economic and political development of Texas. It required a hardy spirit and strong ambition to weather the perils that accompanied these opportunities—the long journey, shipwrecks, hostile Indians, injury and disease—and Irish pioneers proved fit for the task. They were not seeking relief from famine or English oppression in their own country. These were vigorous, strong-willed people who possessed the monetary means to remove themselves from their insular surroundings. What they were seeking, and what they obtained, was land.

Graham Davis tells this Irish-Texan story of the search for land by recounting the experiences of the original empresarios John McMullen, James McGloin, James Power, and James Hewetson, and he finishes the book with an impressive description of the ranching empire of Power's nephew, Thomas O'Connor. In between, he examines the marriages, commercial contacts, political alliances, and language ties that "Mexicanized" these successful entrepreneurs. Living in the heart of the war zone, some of the Irish settlers fought for independence while others remained loyal to the Mexican government that had made them citizens and given them land.

Davis offers a vivid picture of the hardships of pioneer life and the building of communities, churches, and schools. He describes how Irish ranchers had the opportunity to thrive after the annexation of Texas and emphasizes their willing acceptance of Mexican ranching methods. He makes a convincing case that the Irish came to Texas not as victims but as entrepreneurs and opportunists in search of land.

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Editorial Reviews

Irish Studies Review
"By widening the lens of both Texan and Irish emigration history to include Spanish-speaking Irish opportunity seekers, Davis offers his readers a provocative and lively account of overlooked pioneers whose impact on the formation of Texan culture, must be unearthed if that culture is to be fully understood."
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Graham Davis teaches history and Irish studies at Bath Spa University College in England. He received his Ph.D. from Bath University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
1 The Province of Texas in Newly Independent Mexico 9
2 The Context of Emigration: Prefamine Ireland 39
3 Irish Recruitment and the Settlements of San Patricio and Refugio 72
4 The Irish and the Texas Revolution, 1835-36 106
5 The Life of Pioneer Settlers in Texas 154
6 Ranching Culture and the Texas Cattle King: Thomas O'Connor of Refugio County 195
Conclusion 237
App. 1 Passenger Lists 241
App. 2 Land Grantees in San Patricio and Refugio 247
App. 3 Signers of the Goliad Declaration of Independence 255
App. 4 Irish Colonists in the Texan Armies 256
Notes 259
Bibliography 283
Index 293
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