I received a copy of this wonderful article in today’s email and wanted to share it with you. Jan Payne Pierce is a free-lance writer, author of God & Texas, and a member of the Texian Christian Writers.
TEXAS HISTORY MONTH . . .and now for the rest of the story.
by Jan P. Pierce
In honor of the late radio commentator, Paul Harvey, this article tells the “rest of the story” of Texas history as played out during March 1836. Its calendar of events meant the beginning of the end for state-controlled government and religion. It also meant the end of the tyrannical rule of Santa Anna whose one aim in life was to kill every Texian and Tejano who would not bow to a dictatorship under a centralist government.
The flag above speaks of the severity of living free or dying in bondage. Joanna Troutman fashioned a flag for the Georgia Volunteers who came to help Texas remove the tyrant. An eighteen year old Joanna said, “Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” Her design, and others like it, wave of the Texians’ desire to be free.
The Texas Senate and House voted and Governor Rick Perry signed into law March as Texas History Month. The Hand of God provides material for the “rest of the story.”
- March 1 The first convention was held at Washington-on-the Brazos with a purpose to determine the course of history for Texas. Would she remain a confederated state of Mexico, now coming under martial rule, or an independent country committed to the republican principles of self-government as defined in the Mexican Colonization Laws of 1824?
Fifty-nine delegates, learned and politically astute men, arrived from the various districts to convene in the blacksmith shop of Noah T. Byers, a man running from God to Texas. However, Noah found God in Texas and within a few years he became the most traveled circuit-riding preacher of Texas and founder of the First Baptist Church of Waco.
- March 2 Elder Daniel Parker opened the convention meeting in prayer. In 1833 he had brought the first fully-formed Predestinarian Baptist church body from Illinois to Texas settling at Parker’s Fort near today’s Groesbeck. Only two months later, the Comanches massacred the Parker colony and kidnapped several Parker children, including Cynthia Parker. She grew up and married a Comanche chief Pete Nocona. Their son Quanah eventually closed the chapter on Comanche warfare and opened the door to the evangelization of his people.
Following Sam Houston’s advice to form a government, fifty-nine determined delegates signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, asking for the “Supreme Arbiter of the Universe” to take control of the destiny of Texas. March 2 was also the General’s 43rd birthday.
Six years after the signing of the declaration and constitution, President Houston issued a “Recommendation” (appeared last week in the Times) to observe Texas Independence Day as a day of Christian worship. In 1854, he returned to Independence to be baptized in the chilly waters of nearby Rocky Creek. His baptizer? Rufus C. Burleson, future president of Baylor College.
- March 3 Commander William B. Travis sent a final letter from the Alamo requesting help and if none coming, he and his brave men would make sure that their deaths “cost the enemy dearly.” He then signed “God and Texas, Victory or Death!” Six months earlier, he had written the Methodist Conference back East to send five missionaries to Texas because there were “60,000 desperate souls in need of salvation.”
As a youth, Will Travis accompanied his Uncle Alexander on the circuit riding trails of South Carolina and Alabama. Travis sowed his wild oats for sometime but found peace with God once he entrusted his only son to Methodist layman and teacher, David Ayers. His last will and testament quoted, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgment.” Today Travis’s Bible sits on display at the State Archives building in Austin.
- March 4 At the convention, the delegates elected Sam Houston as Commander of the Texas Army. Each generation God raises up an appointed leader to defeat the tyrant. Houston’s father fought the English tyrant in the American Revolution; now the son’s turn arrives to fight for liberty in the new land of Coahuila y Tejas. Sam was just a schoolboy when Thomas Jefferson taught the principle that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
- March 6 The Alamo fell to the Mexican Army but 187 brave Texas men sacrificed their lives to secure precious time for their fellow Texians to flee the wrath of Santa Anna in the Runaway Scrape.  “Greater love has this, than a man will lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). This act of sacrifice and the blood spilled bought Texas time to fight again in the final victory on the coast.
- March 11 While recruiting army volunteers at Gonzales, Gen. Sam Houston learned of the Alamo massacre. He quickly evacuated the citizens then burned Gonzales to the ground. The victims, along with the remaining Texas Army, fled toward safety at the Sabine River, with a victorious stop at San Jacinto that saved Texas some three weeks later. It wasn’t just “Remember the Alamo!” the men cried, or “Remember Goliad!” but Sam himself shouted, “Trust in God!” He said he could feel victory with every fiber of his being.
- March 14 Captain William Ward came under heavy attack at the Refugio mission. He too tried to evacuate settlers from the advancing armies. He wanted to return to Goliad to help Fannin at the La Bahia mission, renamed Fort Defiance. Sometimes readers of history forget that missions were built all over Texas and that the first missionaries were the Catholic padres who accompanied soldiers as they explored Texas. They also kept the written record of evangelization of the Indians as they attempted to Christianize and civilize them.
- March 17 The delegates entered their third and final week of deliberations as they formed a new constitution for the independent nation of Texas and appointed the first officers of an ad interim government: President David G. Burnet, who also presided over the Texas Bible Society; Vice-President Lorenzo de Zavala, schooled in liberty by a priest, and the cabinet. From Washington-on-the Brazos, they fled in boats to Harrisburg to avoid capture by Santa Anna.
Since the original name of the Brazos river was “El Rio de Los Brazos de Dios,” meaning “River of the Arms of God,” those delegates literally escaped the arriving army in a boat and placed the government of Texas into the hands of God—placing their legal papers, documents, and land titles into a trunk fashioned from the convention table timbers called the “Ark of the Covenant.” They trusted God to keep covenant and mercy with them for Texas. This trunk sits next to Travis’s Bible at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives Building.
- March 19-20 Battle of Coleto Creek between Commanders James Fannin and the Mexican Army. Poor communications to and from Colonel James Fannin plus the arrival of Santa Anna’s Centralist Mexican Army resulted in the capture of Fort Defiance at Goliad and nearly 400 men, 2/3 of the Texas Army.
- March 27 Goliad Massacre. Under the guise of a promised release, the Mexican Army marched Fannin’s defenseless prisoners of war out in three companies and executed them by a firing squad. They executed Fannin last after he requested his personal items to be sent home to his loved ones and to have a Christian burial. The enemy chose Palm Sunday to shoot him in the head and toss his body on a fire with the rest of the Texas heroes to be burned dishonorably and abandoned to rot.
This evil deed sickened local Mexican citizens. Earlier, one woman, Panchita Alavez, successfully rescued several men and nursed them to health. Her deeds were recorded by a Dr. Charles Barnard, a surgeon spared for use by the Mexican Army. He asked that she be remembered in history as the “Angel of Goliad.” And she is. Never forget that many Tejanos loved Texas and hated the system set to enslave them. At Zacatecas, Santa Anna killed 2000 of his own people who desired a republican form of government over a dictatorship.
Before the month is over, Remember Texas. Remember the reason you are here and working or worshipping freely in a God-blessed state. Remember that LONE STAR was the remaining star of the two-star Coahuila y Tejas flag. All the other states had catapulted into slavery to Santa Anna. Texas chose to live free or die. Finally, remember that God wills all men to be free . . . “For where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NAS).
Jan Pierce is a frequent contributor to local newspapers. She is a writer, speaker, and teacher of the Christian history of Texas. Contact her for presentations through the Texian Christian Writer website: www.GodandTexas.org.
 Website picture from Sons of the South
 Personal photo by writer of Independence Hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park.
 Monument to the Spirit of the Heroes outside Alamo, San Antonio.