The region north of Houston, Texas, is a cultural enclave of communities and sites distinctive in Texas history. Here, significant contributions to the history of the great state of Texas emerged, along with some of its most noted and distinctive personalities, communities, and historical sites.
Thoroughly researched and ambitious in scope, The Cradle of Texas Road explores this region of Texas to demonstrate how the Lone Star State has become a model of cultural integration in the United States. Robin and Joy Montgomery trace the evolution of this region beginning with the birth of the province of Texas through René Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle’s influence with Spain to the modern pioneers who provide inspiration for Texas and beyond.
This historical study shows how regional pride can and should spill over into the rest of the area, thereby providing greater unity to the state itself. Focus is also given to selected communities and historical sites that harbor a significant event or personality. These include
• the gravesite of Sam Houston;
• Huntsville’s Andrew Female College;
• Bedias, home to the original Native Americans; and
• the Alamo, where William B. Travis drew a line in the sand.
Step back into history and discover some of the most dynamic examples of cultural innovation in the United States with The Cradle of Texas Road.
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The Cradle of Texas Road
A Model of Cultural Integration for the Nation
By Robin Navarro Montgomery, Joy Montgomery
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Robin Navarro Montgomery, PhD, and Joy Montgomery
All rights reserved.
Madisonville—Trinidad, The Green Flag Republic
The first lap of our Cradle of Texas Road celebrates an event preceding the arrival of Stephen F. Austin to Texas. Our journey begins at Madisonville at the intersection of highway 90 and the Old San Antonio Road, OSR, now highway 21. Madisonville is the county seat of Madison County, both city and town being named for the fourth president of the United States. Along the OSR from Madisonville east to the Trinity River were staged dramatic events surrounding both the birth and final demise of the 1st Republic of Texas. A marker at Midway, between Madison ville and the Trinity, tells the story succinctly. We will relay the words of the marker and then expand upon the story the marker summarizes:
Site of Trinidad
Later known as Spanish Bluff. A fort and town as early as 1805. Captured by the Magee-Gutierrez Expedition in October 1812, Near here the survivors of the Battle of Medina were executed in 1813. Inhabitants of the town were butchered by order of the Spanish commander and the town desolated.
First Declaration of the 1st Texas Republic
The full name of Trinidad was Santisima Trinidad de Salcedo. The Magee-Gutiérrez Expedition cited on the marker references a group of Anglo-Americans, Native Americans and Tejanos termed the "Republican Army of the North." While in Trinidad in October 1812, they declared Texas as a state free of Spanish control— from the Trinity to the Sabine River. By the following April, 1813, the group had conquered San Antonio, the Spanish capital of Texas. Declaring the whole state free on 6 April, they then proceeded to draw up a constitution on the 17th of that month. Truly a multicultural marvel, this, the First Republic of Texas, featured a Green Irish Flag flying over a Tejano-Anglo state.
Roots of the Green Flag
The foundation of the Green Flag Republic lay in the "Father of Mexico", Miguel Hidalgo's, drive to free all of Mexico from Spain. As a Lt. Colonel in Hidalgo's Army, the later president of the Green Flag Republic, Don Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara, began his quest for freedom acting on direct instructions from Hidalgo, himself, to go the United States to secure aid. As a result, he recruited a force with US native, Augustus Magee, the originator of the green flag, at the command. Significant to these events was the wife of Don Bernardo, Doña María Joséfa de Uribe Gutiérrez. Staying behind with her family throughout the ordeal of the rise and fall of the 1st Republic of Texas, she exhibited great courage, her suffering extending to being removed from her home at the hands of Spanish authorities. Truly, Doña María was a magnificent original First Lady of Texas, although her time in the position was short.
Significant to the story of the Green Flag Republic is its multicultural make up. The Mexican, Don Bernardo, was a citizen of a Catholic culture. His mentor, Miguel Hidalgo, had taken as his banner the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This image had found root in Mexico with the appearance of an apparition of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, an Aztec, in 1531, at the shrine of Tonantzin, the Aztec mother goddess. Following the apparition's directive, Juan Diego attempted to convince the local Catholic authorizes of the miraculous occurrence. Upon his failure here, he followed her orders to present to the authorities roses wrapped within a blue cape. It was in January and roses had never been at the shrine at that time of year. However, there they were and Juan Diego did as the apparition demanded. Upon presenting them however, instead of roses in the cape there was an image of the virgin. Thus was born what would become overtime the Patroness of the Americas, and the fundamental national symbol of Mexico.
Even with this strong Catholic heritage behind him, Don Bernardo yet recruited an army of citizens from the United States, a nation with Anglo-Protestant roots. Not only were those roots Protestant, but they were riding the crest of a Second "Great Religious Awakening." Exhibiting, therefore, a grand degree of togetherness, the group also picked up, along the way, a substantial cadre of Native Americans and a few African-Americans. Together, the assemblage worked its way from Louisiana to San Antonio, winning every major battle en route. On 4 August 1813, Don Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara was forced to yield the leadership of the Green Flag Republic to José Álvarez Toledo. Only when this change in their government brought a realignment of their politics and army, isolating the units according to race, did the Army of the 1st Republic lose a major battle.
The Pivotal Battle of Medina
Awesome was that loss; the Battle of Medina on 18 August 1813 marked the most disastrous defeat ever on Texas soil. As implied on the marker cited above, after the battle Spanish troops under the command of Colonel Ignacio Elizondo pursued the remnants of the escaping Texas Army. Establishing his headquarters between the area of present Madisonville and the Trinity, Elizondo directed his forces to execute with impunity most of the Texas Patriots they managed to apprehend. In the process, they also demolished the very town of Trinidad to the extent that its exact location is yet a matter of dispute.
The great lesson of the First Republic of Texas, torn as it was by disastrous dissension at the Battle of Medina, is "united we stand, divided we fall." (See supplement two, for a feature article and bibliography on the 1st Republic)
Remember the Alamo
Besides its association with the area where Texas was first declared a free republic, the Madisonville area is fascinating for other reasons. For example, a Madison County man, Major W.C. Young, is credited with originating the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" Other Texans took up the cry as they engaged the pivotal battle for the independence of Texas at the Battle of San Jacinto.
A Texan's Texas Town
Madisonville is a real Texan's cattle town. In the 1950's and 60's, Madison County boasted more cattle per acre than other county in Texas. The famous Sidewalk Cattleman's Association event, celebrated in late May and early June, proffered the idea that Madisonville had too many "sidewalk cowboys." If one wore boots but did not own cows, he would be dumped into the horse trough on the square. Specifically, so the legend goes, should one have at least one cow, one was allowed to wear one pants leg tucked inside a boot. It took the ownership of at least two or more cows to warrant having both pants legs tucked in.
The Mushroom Festival
Another major event of the year is the famous Mushroom Festival, complete with a dinner the evening before a full Saturday of fun and games and, of course, delicious culinary treats. The festival is in late October.
Between Madisonville and the Trinity outside of Midway is another marker to an event with impact on the area of the Cradle Road. This is the story of a settlement called Bucareli. The story begins with the Spanish moving the capital of Texas from Los Adaes, in present Louisiana, to San Antonio in 1773. As a consequence, many settlers from East Texas were forced to move west to the new seat of government.
Some of those removed became unhappy with their new surroundings and appealed to the Spanish Viceroy Antonio Maria de Bucareli to allow them to move closer to the area of their original homes. The appeal being successful, they established a community at the junction of San Antonio Road and the Trinity River. The thankful colonists named the community Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Bucareli. This was in September 1774 and the citizens were given a ten-year waiver of taxes.
Things went seemingly well until 1777 when an epidemic apparently stemming from contaminated water, in conjunction with raids by the Comanche's in the following year, doomed the settlement. The inhabitants consequently abandoned Bucareli, to found the town of Nacogdoches. (See Indians and Pioneers of Original Montgomery County, 25-26)
On highway 21 four miles east of Midway, just west of the Trinity and hence in original Montgomery County territory, is a marker which reads as follows:
Bucareli: In this vicinity, at Paso Tomas on the Trinity, was the Spanish town Nuestra Senora del Pilar De Bucareli (1774-1779). Indian troubles had caused Spain to move Louisiana colonists to Bexar [San Antonio]. These people, however, fled to return to East Texas, and secured the consent of Viceroy Antonio Maria Bucareli. Led by Gil Ybardo (1729-1809), they built at the Trinity crossing a church, plaza and wooden houses, and grew to a town of 345 people. But ill luck with crops, a few Comanche raids, and river floods sent the settlers farther east. Again led by Ybardo, they rebuilt the old town of Nacogdoches, 1779.
The epidemic mentioned in the marker not only played a pivotal role in the history of citizens of Bucareli. It also led to the loss of perhaps half of the Native American tribe known as the Bidai (Bee Dye), marking the demise of that great tribe as a major player in Texas history. We turn now to more on that story.
Bedias, Original Native Americans
Moving south from Madisonville on Highway 90 we come to Bedias, named for the Native American Tribe of that name, also referred to as the Bidai. The Bedias claimed to be the original tribe of Texas and the leaders of the whole area. At the time the Europeans began to occupy Texas, their main range was between the Brazos and Trinity Rivers, west to east, and from Spring Creek to the Old San Antonio Road, south to north—the range of the whole Cradle of Texas Road. However, their range once extended far to the east of the Trinity. For example, they were allied to the Caddo, and were the builders of the great Caddo Mounds of East Texas.
A distinctive feature of the Bidai was their shaman, considered by all their neighbors as possessed of awesome supernatural power. It was believed that the shaman could assume the form of an owl and visit alien campfires, casting spells for good or evil.
The Bidai were a tribe of diplomats, maneuvering between various warring factions of Texas history, both among the Native Americans, themselves, and the French, Spanish and Anglo-Americans. So adept were they at games of intrigue that they were once trusted with a position within which they could have completely undermined the Spanish goals in Texas. This was in the early seventeen seventies, just before the epidemic at Bucareli mentioned above, which decimated their ranks.
Saga of the Triple Alliance:
In the late eighteenth century, the Spanish had initiated a reversal in their Indian policy. Part of the new policy hinged on building alliances against the Apaches, with whom they had found it futile to build an effective friendship.
As a means toward implementing the policy they sought to maneuver the Bidai into drawing upon their close relations with the Hasinai Caddo to set the stage for an alliance with the Indians of north, the Norteños, and with the Comanche's. The Caddo, however, much like the Bidai, had been driven to despise the Spanish mission system. With their sufficient agricultural system and independence of mind, the Hasinai had not succumbed in great numbers to the machinations of the Spanish seeking to place them in the missions, making of them docile neophytes.
Hence the Hasinai or Tejas (Texas) and the Bidai entered into a conspiracy to bring the Apache into a three-way alliance with them. Such a three-way confederacy would be a major counterweight to the Spanish desires. The Spanish had not yet solidified their projected alliance neither with the Norteños nor with the Comanche's; the alliance was yet in a formative, if not dream state. A solid three-way confederacy against Spanish interests would be a threat of major proportions. (See Indians and Pioneers of Original Montgomery County, p23-25)
In his book, Doomed Road of Empire, (p.148) Hodding Carter gets to the heart of the matter:
Now came intrigue. Governor Ripperda [of Spanish Texas] learned that the Apaches feared the treaties being signed by the Nations of the North would produce a coalition, which might seek to destroy them. Through the Bidais, a separate tribe who lived south of the camino real [San Antonio Road] and to whom they had long traded horses for guns as intermediaries, the Apaches suggested to the Texas that the three nations meet for an alliance of their own ... Let the Apaches unite with the Bidais and the Texas, and they in turn with the Nations of the North, and Spain would not have the power to protect the presidios of Texas or even Coahuila itself. Something would have to be done."
Hodding Carter further stated, "When Mézieres [Spanish liaison to the Native Americans of Texas] learned in Natchitoches that four Apache chiefs and their bands were on their way to the Texas and the Bidais Indians to draw up the proposed treaty, he had no time to lose." The Spanish were bent upon exerting maximum pressure on the Bidai and Hasinai to abort their scheme. Fortunate were the Spanish that there had been a long history of bad relations between these two eastern tribes with their would-be Apache ally upon which to build and manipulate them.
The Spanish therefore, through guile, cunning and promises, were able to prevail, preventing the consummation of the treaty. We once more turn to Hodding Carter, who wrote that the Spanish convinced the Bidai and the Texas that they "they should never forget that the Apaches were truly their enemies and must be treated as such."
The two Eastern tribes obviously were drawn to the Spanish position as shown in the following quote from Carter (p.149):
When the Apache chiefs entered [the] tent they were attacked by Texas tribesmen. Three Apache were slain. The Bidais danced over the dead bodies. Thus was the potentially dangerous alliance among the Apaches, the Texas and the Bidai avoided. At Natchitoches, Mass was said and the Te deum sung in the new parish church, resplendent in its glittering silver ornaments, for the success of Spanish arms and the beneficial results of the tour of Captain de Mézieres.
Given the Bidai's historic penchant for intrigue, their extended geographical range over the course of their history and the uncertainty of the roots of their language, an enticing possibility presents itself. The background to this thesis rests with a book, which the Naylor Company published in 1967 entitled Latest Aztec Discoveries. The author, Guy E. Powell, a former naval commander, makes an interesting case for the location of the original home of the Aztecs and Toltecs, and for an early home for the Mayas. Powell takes the position that all three of these great civilizations made their way to what would become the country of Mexico from an area in East Texas that could surely encompass the range the Bidai claimed for themselves, claims which the Caddo confirmed. Could the Bidai be descendants of one or all of these great civilizations?
The epicenter of this early abode of three significant tribes ranged, according to Powell, from about present Trinity to Groveton, Texas generally encompassing Trinity County. This was the land to which the Aztecs referred as Aztlan, known as the "white place" for the type of rocks in the area.
At the outset, let it be understood that there are many arguable positions on the location from which the great Mexican civilizations sprung. All have their supporters and doubters. One of the more remarkable of these suppositions is derived from a map by the great explorer and geographer, Alexander von Humboldt. In 1810, Humboldt's map depicted Aztlan far to the north. Amongst its notable features, Humboldt's map preserves the tradition that the Aztecs migrated to Mexico from the land of Aztlan, usually referenced as a mysterious place which the Spanish thought was located near the Great Salt Lake in modern Utah.
Excerpted from The Cradle of Texas Road by Robin Navarro Montgomery. Copyright © 2013 by Robin Navarro Montgomery, PhD, and Joy Montgomery. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc..
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Table of Contents
Part I. Cradle of Texas Road: Sites and Side-Trips....................
Chapter One Madisonville—Trinidad, The Green Flag Republic................ 11
Chapter Two Bedias, Original Native Americans.................... 19
Chapter Three Roans Prairie, Leadership of Washington Municipality........ 27
Chapter Four Anderson, and Statehood.................... 35
Chapter Five Navasota, Birth of the Cradle Concept.................... 43
Chapter Six Washington-on-the-Brazos, Home of the 2nd Texas Republic...... 53
Chapter Seven Grimes and Montgomery Prairies, and Significant Pioneers.... 57
Chapter Eight Plantersville, Land of the Renaissance.................... 67
Chapter Nine Dobbin, and the Babe of the Alamo.................... 71
Chapter Ten Montgomery, Charles Stewart & the Lone Star Flag.............. 97
Chapter Eleven Conroe, Budding Multicultural Center.................... 107
Chapter Twelve Cut and Shoot, Roy Harris: World-Class Boxer and Citizen... 119
Chapter Thirteen Deerwood: Foundational Experiment in Cultural
Chapter Fourteen Willis, Danville, Waverly, Memorable Triumvirate......... 129
Chapter Fifteen Huntsville, Legacy of Sam Houston.................... 139
Comprehensive Bibliography.................... 155
Part II. Cradle of Texas Road: Supplements....................
Cradle Of Texas Road, Supplement One.................... 163
Cradle Of Texas Road, Supplement Two.................... 173
Cradle Of Texas Road, Supplement Three.................... 187
Cradle Of Texas Road, Supplement Four.................... 189
Cradle Of Texas Road, Supplement Five.................... 195