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Published on June 9, 2020

Alamo survivor had ties to Brazoria County

He survived the Alamo because they sent him out with a message: Get reinforcements

By Janice Edwards / The Bulletin

He owned land in Brazoria County and escaped the Alamo slaughter by being sent out to deliver a message for help for the defenders of the mission and fortress. Who was he?

If you read my columns, you know that I like to ferret out quirky connections, especially historical ones.

The connection today deals with Horace Arlington Alsbury, who came to Texas as one of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” colonists, and received a land grant on the San Bernard River.

His family survived the Alamo. He did also, because he was sent away from it to deliver a message.

Alsbury, with two of his brothers, received title to one and a half sitios (leagues) of land in Brazoria County (where Bernard Acres, Rio Vista, and Ernie’s Acres are today) on Aug. 3, 1824.

He was active in the Texas Revolution, both writing and volunteering for military service.

In late August 1835, he published a handbill in Columbia warning the “people of Texas” of Santa Anna’s plans to drive Anglos out of Texas. He was also at the siege of Bexar (Nov. – Dec. 1835).

In January 1836, Alsbury married Juana Gertrudis Navarro Perez. Juana was the niece of, and reared by Juan Martin de Veramendi (then vice-governor of Texas) and his wife in the Veramendi Palace in San Antonio. Her cousin and adopted sister, Ursula Veramendi, was married to Jim Bowie.

In the first hours after Santa Anna’s troops placed the Alamo under siege on Feb. 23, 1836, Ursula brought Juana and her immediate family to the outpost, thinking that they’d be safer there.

That same morning, after Horace Alsbury learned of the Mexican Army’s presence, he left his wife and family at the Alamo and rode from there as one of the first messengers sent out by William B. Travis.

Juana Alsbury remained at the Alamo during the siege and final assault by the Mexican forces. She nursed Jim Bowie, but because his typhoid fever was contagious, she was moved to a safer room. It was protected by two men who were killed by Mexican soldiers.

Juana and her young son from her previous marriage (she was a widow) were among the very few Alamo survivors. After the battle, they moved to her father’s house.

On March 3, Alsbury was in Gonzales with other Texas volunteers after failing to contact James W. Fannin’s division for reinforcements for the Alamo.

Alsbury, who was fluent in Spanish and often called "Horatio" or Dr. Alsbury, went on to fight in the Battle of San Jacinto and was one of five men who captured Mexican General Santa Anna when he tried to escape. He then served as a spy for the Texans as they pushed the enemy south into Mexico. After the war, he moved his family to Calavero Ranch on the Goliad Road in present-day Wilson County.

The Congress of the Republic of Texas recognized Horace Alsbury for his service as a major in the infantry and as an interpreter for the post of San Antonio de Bexar. He received a land grant south of San Antonio near present-day Von Ormy, Texas, and continued his service to Texas until dying in 1847 during the U.S-Mexican War.

Though Alsbury did not end up in Brazoria County, the first piece of Texas he owned was a land grant in this county.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)