Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown. Page: 143 of 894
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INDIAN WARS AND PIONEERS OF TEXAS.
James Butler Bonham.
It is honorable to human nature to feel something
akin to personal interest and, with many,
kinship, in the character of men whose deeds stamp
them as of the highest order of honor and heroism.
Of such is the character we have under consideration.
Most that is known among the multitude,
even of well-informed Texians, is that Bonham, a
South Carolinian, fell in the Alamo. The true
sublimity of his acts and bearing has been locked
in the hearts of a few, and never till recently, by
the writer of these chapters, given to the public,
and then only to contradict a published historical
misstatement awarding to another the credit due to
Bonham, and to Bonham only.
Who was this almost matchless hero, patriot and
friend -friend to the illustrious Travis, as David
and Jonathan were friends
a friendship hallowed
in Masonry and in the hearts of men three thousand
years after its manifestation in the days of Saul?
Very briefly I will answer.
The Bonham family, in so far as their American
history goes, are of Maryland origin. They
branched off more than a hundred years ago fiom
that State into South Carolina, Kentucky (from
Kentucky into Missouri and thence to Texas), and
elsewhere in the newer portions of the Union.
James Bonham, in the Revolutionary War, was a
private soldier at fifteen years of age in a Maryland
cavalry company, whose captain and oldest
member was but nineteen. They served at the
siege of Yorktown. The wife of this James Bonham
was Sophia Smith. They had five sons and
three daugthers. Jacob, the eldest, died in childhood.
The second, Sirnon Smith Bonham, died a
lawyer and planter in Alabama, in 1835.
The third, Malachi Bonham, died in Fairfield,
Freestone County, Texas, during the Civil War, and
has children there now. The fourth son was the
hero of Alamo, James Butler Bonham. The fifth
and last son was Milledge L. Bonham. This son
was Adjutant of a South Carolina brigade in the
Florida war. He was Colonel of the 12th U. S.
Infantry in the Mexican war. He was Solicitor in
his district in South Carolina for nine years; a
member of Congress from 1857 to the Civil War in
1861. He was Major-General commanding all the
troops of South Carolina at the time of her secession
from the Union, and so remained until April
19, 1861, when the State troops were merged into
the Confederate army, and Gen. Bonham, asa fact,
led the first brigade into that service. In the fall
of that year, however, he was elected to the Confederate
Congress, in which he served one session,
and in 1862 was elected Governor of South Carolina,
serving till the close of 1864, when, as Brigadier-General,
he re-entered the Confederate army
and so remained till the close of the war. He died
at the age of 80 years in 1890, while President of
the State Board of Railroad Commissioners.
Returning to Bonham, the martyr, it may be
stated that his sister, Sarah M., married John Lipscomb,
of Abbeville, S. C., while Julia married Dr.
Samuel Bowie, and died in Lowndes County,
James Butler Bonham, fourth son of Capt. James
Bonham, was born on Red Bank creek, Edgefield
County, South Carolina, February 7, 1807. Wm.
Barrett Travis, slightly his senior, and of one of the
best families of that country, was born within five
miles of the same spot. Their childhood and boyhood
constituted an unbroken chain of endearment.
Both were tall, muscular and handsome men. Both
were noted for manly gentleness in social life and
fearlessness in danger. Travis came to Texas in
1830. His career thence to his death is a part of
our history. We turn to Bonham. He was well
educated, studied law, and was admitted to the bar
in 1830. In the fall of 1832, with the rank of
Lieutenant-Colonel, he was appointed Aide to Governor
James Hamilton (afterwards so justly endeared
to Texas.) That was when South Carolina
was a military camp in the time of nullification. He
was at Charleston in all the preparations for defense.
The citizens of Charleston, charmed by his
splendid physique, accomplished manners and gentle
bearing, made him Captain of their favorite artillery
company, which he commanded in addition to his
staff duties. The passage of Henry Clay's compromise
averted the danger, and young Bonham
resumed his practice in Pendleton District; but in
1834 removed to Montgomery, Alabama, and at
once began a career full of brilliant promise. But
about September, 1835, there was wafted to him
whisperings, and then audible sounds, of the impending
revolution in Texas. While the correspondence
is lost, it is certain that earnest and loving letters
passed between him and Travis. Communication
was slow and at distant intervals compared with the
present time; but by November the soul of Bonham
was enlisted in the cause of Texas. He
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Brown, John Henry. Indian wars and pioneers of Texas / by John Henry Brown., book, 1880~; Austin, Tex.. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6725/m1/143/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .