Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR)

In Austin, TX, May 22-25, 2017, I will be part of the faculty presenting the first annual Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR). The institute will be a week long, with focus solely on Texas.

I am excited to be presenting “Shining Stars and Hidden Gems: Research Repositories of Texas.” Since moving to Texas two and a half years ago, I have made quite an effort to visit some of the wonderful research repositories in this BIG state. I have had some fantastic experiences and have gotten to hold in my hands some of the most precious and descriptive letters from the time of the Texas Revolution.

One project I have been involved with has been examining the personal writings from men who served in the Georgia Battalion. On a research visit to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, located on the University of Texas campus, I had the privilege to read some very interesting and heartbreaking letters describing the times and conditions of the soldiers.

Letters written by John Sowers Brooks, available for viewing at the Briscoe Center, describe the terrible conditions the soldiers had to endure and are saturated with the loneliness these men must have felt.

IMG_7322
Letter from John Sowers Brooks, to his father, dated 25 February 1836, from Fort Defiance, Goliad, Texas; Briscoe Center for American History, box 3H90, Folder “Brooks (John Sowers) Papers [no folder numbers].

The letter reads in part:

“We will march at the dawn of day tomorrow with 320 men and 4 pieces of Artillery, 2 sixes and two fours. We have no provisions scarcely, and many of us are nearly naked, and entirely destitute of shoes. But something must be done to relieve our countrymen. We have suffered much and mar reasonably anticipate much greater sufferings. But if we succeed in reaching Bexar before the garrison is compelled to surrender, and are successful in taking the place and its gallant defenders– we shall deem ourselves amply repaid for our trials and hardships.”

Unfortunately, John Sowers Brooks was injured in battle, having received a bullet to his thigh which shattered the bone. He died during the massacre of Fannin’s Men at Goliad on 27 March 1836.

There are more letters to tell this tale. And hundreds of other tales of the Texas Revolution as well. The letters and stories are hidden in archives and manuscript collections across the state. My lecture at TIGR will share some of the repositories you can visit to find them. I hope to see you there!

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