Settling Texas, Part 2

Here is part two of Rosa Kleberg’s story of her earliest Texas days.
She and had been in Texas for over six decades when she told it to her grandson in 1897. Rosa was the wife of Robert J. Kleberg, a San Jacinto veteran and distinguished citizen of the Republic. Kleberg County is named in his honor.

The first part took her from being shipwrecked off Galveston, to a temporary home in Harrisburg, and finally to her home at Cat Spring. Here’s the rest:

The Revolution Begins

Old Colonel Pettus brought us the first news of the start of hostilities. The unmarried men of our party then joined the march to San Antonio and participated in the capture of that city. 

Then things were now quiet for a while, and everybody began work once more. But when the news of the fall of the Alamo came, there was great excitement. Some of the people wanted to leave Texas altogether. There was quite a debate in our family as to what course it was most advisable to pursue, until my husband was seconded in his views by my father.

Besides, we could not leave the state permanently, having no property elsewhere. And so it was finally decided that my father should stay with us, while my husband and brothers were to join the army. As the men left, their families began to move, intending to cross the Sabine river; and we set out like the rest.

The Runaway Scrape

As we passed through San Felipe, my husband and my brother, Louis von Boeder, left us to join Houston’s army. Having only one big ox-wagon, and being compelled to take in it four families and their baggage, we were compelled to leave behind much that was valuable. My father and I drove our cattle and packed horses; and I carried my daughter Clara, who was then a child of a few months, upon the saddle in front of me.

Most of the families traveled separately until they reached the Brazos, where all were compelled to come to a halt. It was necessary to drive the cattle across before the people could pass over; and this was attended with a good deal of difficulty. In this way there were collected from forty to fifty families who were trying to cross with their cattle, and the noise and confusion were terrible.

There was only one small ferryboat, which carried a wagon and a few passengers. Many of the people were on foot. Deaf Smith’s Mexican wife was in a truck-wheel cart (a cart with two wooden wheels made from entire cross-sections of a large tree) with her two pair of twins, but had no team to carry her forward.

My brother Albrecht carried her with his team of oxen for a distance and then returned for us. Several other people showed her the same consideration, and thus she managed to proceed on her journey. This continued from early morning until the late afternoon.

The next morning after crossing the Brazos, we stopped at “Cow” Cooper’s, called thus from the large number of cattle he owned. Cooper told the people to help themselves to all the meat in his smoke-house, since he did not want the Mexicans to have it. He was then a man of about 50 years, and his sons were in the army. He had a beautiful herd of horses and a lot of negroes. The people kept together for about a day, after which they again separated. We camped near the Clear Creek, where young Louis von Boeder was born in a corn-crib.

We intended to remain here as long as possible on account of my sister. During the night, however, my brother Otto von Boeder came to tell us that the Mexicans had gone to the crossing below San Felipe and that we must move on. And so we once more set out, being compelled to stop again after the second day.

San Jacinto Deserters

We camped in the neighborhood of a house where a number of families had collected. Here we heard the sound of cannon, and the next morning came an old man, Georgens by name, whom we knew quite well. He told us that the battle had been fought; but when my father asked him about the result he told us that he had stayed with the army until he saw that everybody was thoroughly engaged, whereupon he decided that they were able to get on without him and he left.

Georgens, however, was not the only one who decided that his presence was not indispensable. Deserters were constantly passing us on foot and on horseback. The old men who were with the families laughed at them and called to them, “Run! Run! Santa Anna is behind you!”

One German whom we knew in Paderhorn, and who had come to Texas several years before us, had caused to be posted on the trees on his land notices that he was loyal to the Mexican government, and had persuaded many of his German friends to do the same. But when the Mexicans actually appeared on the scene, our friend and his followers nevertheless got frightened and got away as fast as they could.

Georgens’ wife and children were stolen by the Indians; but Stoehlke and his family were captured by the Mexicans, who wanted to hang him. He told them that if they did so, he would die as innocent as Jesus Christ himself, whereupon they released him and his family. There were a good many Germans on Cummins Creek. They came from Westphalia and Oldenburg. 

To Galveston Island

On the afternoon of the same day, we learned the result of the battle of San Jacinto. We did not believe the good news until we heard it was confirmed by the young men whom we had sent to ascertain the truth of the report. It was our intention to return home; but we heard that the Indians were in the country, and so we followed the example of the families who were with us, and went to Galveston Island.

There were also a number of Mexican prisoners who were kept on the island by the Texan government. We received some supplies from the people of the United States, but we nevertheless there passed through some of our hardest experiences. Many of us were sick, and though there was a physician, a Dr. Jaeger, among us, who generously gave his services, yet he had no medicines. My sister-in-law, Ottilie von Boeder (nee von Donop) died here and we buried her under the Three Lone Trees. 

Home to Cat Spring

My husband, and brother Louis, who had both been in the Texan army all during this time, joined us there, and we first intended to remain permanently. But it was evident that this was impossible, and we decided to return to Cat Spring.

When we came home we found everything we had left was gone. We had buried our books, but the place had been found and they were torn to pieces. We had to begin anew, and with less than we had when we started. 

Rosa Kleberg about 1860