Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown.

INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.

45

The Murder of the Douglas and Dougherty Families -1836.

The month of March, 1836, ranks overwhelmingly
as the bloodiest and yet, in one respect, the brightest
in the annals of Texas. On the second day of that
month, at Washington on the Brazos, the chosen
delegates of the people, fifty-two being present,
unanimously declared Texas to be a free, sovereign
and independent Republic, according to Gen. Sam
Houston, their most distinguished colleague, the
opportunity of subscribing his name to the solemn
declaration, the second of its kind in the history of
the human family, on his birthday, an event not
dreamed of by his noble mother when in Rockbridge
County, Virginia, on the second day of March, 1793,
she first clasped him to her bosom. On the 4th of
March, Gen. Houston was elected commander-inchief
of the armies of the Republic, as he had been
in the previous November of the armies of the Provisional,
or inchoate, government. On the 11th,
Henry Smith, the Provisional Governor, one of the
grandest characters adorning the history of Texas
and to whom more than to any one man, the cause
of Independence was indebted for its triumph, surrendered
his functions to the representatives of the
people. On the 2d, Dr. Grant and his party,
beyond the Nueces, were slaughtered by Urrea's dragoons,
one man only escaping massacre, to be held
long in Mexican dungeons and then escape, to
survive at least fifty-five years, with the fervent hope
by hosts of friends that he may yet be spared many
years to see a commercial city arise where he has
resided for over half a century. The veteran
gentleman referred to is Col. Reuben R. Brown, of
Velasco, at the mouth of the Brazos. On the 6th
the Alamo and its 182 defenders went down to
immortality under the oft-repulsed but surging
columns of Santa Anna. On the 19th Fannin
capitulated to Urrea on the plains of Coleto. On
the 27th be and his followers, to the number of
about 480, were massacred in cold blood, under the
specific orders of that arch traitor and apostate to
liberty, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, whose life,
twenty-four days later, when a prisoner in their
hands, was spared through a magnanimity unsurpassed
in the world's history, by the lion-hearted
defenders of a people then and ever since, by prejudiced
fanatics and superficial scribblers, characterized
as largely composed of outlaws and quasibarbarians,
instead of being representatives, as they
were, of the highest type of American chivalry,
American civilization and American liberty.

While these grand events were transpiring, the
American settlers on the Guadalupe, the Lavaca
and farther east were removing their families eastwardly,
flying from the legions of Santa Anna as
from wild beasts. Many had no vehicles and used
horses, oxen, sleds or whatever could be improvised
to transport the women, children, bedding and food.
Among those thus situated were two isolated
families, living on Douglas' or Clark's creek, about
twelve miles southwest of Hallettsville, in Lavaca
County. These were John Douglas, wife and
children, and -
Dougherty, a widower, with
three children. The parents were natives of
Ireland, but had lived and probably married in
Cambria County, Pennsylvania, where their children
were born and from which they came to Texas in
1832. They were worthy and useful citizens, and
lived together. They prepared sleds on which to
transport their effects, but when these were completed
the few people in that section had already
left for the east. On the morning of the 4th of
March Augustine Douglas, aged fifteen, and Thadeus
Douglas, aged thirteen, were sent out by their
father to find and bring in the oxen designed to
draw the sleds. Returning in the afternoon, at a
short distance from home, they saw that the cabins
were on fire, and heard such screams and war
whoops as to admonish them that their parents and
kindred were being butchered; but they were
unarmed and powerless and realized that to save
their own lives they must seek a hiding-place.
This they found in a thicket near by, and there
remained concealed till night. When dark came
they cautiously approached the smoldering ruins
and found that the savages had left. A brief
examination revealed to them the dead and scalped
bodies of their father, mother, sister and little
brother and of Mr. Dougherty, one son and two
daughters, lying naked in the yard-
eight souls
thus brutally snatched from earth. Imagination,
especially when assured that those two boys were
noted for gentle and affectionate natures, as personally
known to the writer for a number of years,
may depict the forlorn anguish piercing their young
hearts. It was a scene over which angels weep.
There were scarcely anything more than paths,
and few of them, through that section. Augustne
had some idea as to courses, and speedily determined
on a policy. With his little brother he proceeded
to the little settlement in the vicinity of

Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown.. Austin, Tex.. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/. Accessed March 30, 2015.