Monday, December 28, 2015

Stephen F. Austin Funeral Reenactment

Stephen F. Austin (November 3, 1793 – December 27, 1836) An American Empresario was born in Virginia and raised in Missouri.  He is the founder of Anglo-American Texas, and considered the Father of Texas.

On December 26, 2015 the towns of West Columbia and Jones Creek, Texas held a reenactment of the funeral of Stephen F. Austin.  A eulogy was held at the Replica of the Texas Capitol in West Columbia at 9:00am.  After the eulogy, Austin's body was transported by wagon to the Gulf Prairie Cemetery in Jones Creek for a reenactment of the funeral service around noon.  The event included numerous period reenactors, musket fire, and 23 cannon shots for the 23 counties in The Texas Republic at the time of Austin's death.  It was a great event, and well worth the trip.  Check with Stephen F. Austin Chapter of the Sons of the Republic of Texas for details since the dates, time and parking arrangements change from year to year.


After the defeat of the Mexican Army at San Jacinto in April 1836, Austin ran for the presidency, and was defeated by Sam Houston.  However, Houston appointed him the first Secretary of State in September, and Austin accepted.  After his appointment, he was lodging in the home of George B. McKinstry near the temporary Capitol of Texas located near West Columbia, TX.  In late December a blue norther blew into Texas, and Austin caught a cold.  By Christmas Day Austin's condition had improved.  The weather turned bad again, and Austin's conditions worsened and he resulted in him developing pneumonia.  The attending physicians administered an emetic, or vomiting agent, in hopes of clearing his lungs.  The remedy seemed to work, but it left Austin very weak.

On the 27th James Perry, Austin's brother-in-law, arrived at his bedside.  The empresario was lucid yet very weak.  He could only talk in whispers, and after a short conversation told them "Now, I will go to sleep".  For next two hours he drifted in and out of consciousness.  Around eleven-thirty he woke, as if from a dream, and in a faint voice said, "The independence of Texas is recognized!  Don't you see it in the papers? Doctor Archer told me so!"  He then slipped back into unconsciousness.  Thirty minutes later he died.1

A tree known as the Stephen F. Austin Oak is located near the spot where he passed away near West Columbia.  The acorns from this tree were germinated by Texas A&M University, and Billy F. Price, Sam Houston IV, SRT, SAR and/or the DAR have planted one of these oaks at every Court House in Texas, and at every school named in Stephen F. Austin's honor.

1.  "Stephen F. Austin - Empresario of Texas", by Gregg Cantrell, pg 363-364.

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