Flanked by a line of “Come and Take It” flags, the Gonzales chapter of Sons of the Republic of Texas honored the “Old 18,” members of the Gonzales community who defended the city from Mexican soldiers on the 185th anniversary of the Battle of Gonzales.
Chapter President David Bird said this was the first public event the organization has hosted since the onset of COVID-19 in March.
“We felt like this would be a great way to start again, in an outdoor setting instead of going to a restaurant,” Bird said. “And because Come and Take It won’t be held this year, we really thought it would be a great way to start out our celebrations of our Texas history.”
Mayor Connie Kacir gave opening remarks as an introduction to the historical account given by local historian Robert Burchard, detailing the history of the city and its significance as the birthplace of the Texas Revolution.
“On this site, September the 29th 1835, the Mexican troops demanded the return of the Gonzales cannon,” Kacir said. “And after 10 days delay awaiting those recruits, our colonists answered, ‘come and take it.’”
Burchard began with personal accounts of growing up in Gonzales before discussing the history so treasured by the Gonzales community. The 18 men honored in the event and known as the ‘Old 18’ were: Willliam W. Arrington, Simeon Bateman, Valentine Bennet, Joseph D. Clements, Almond Cottle, Jacob C. Darst, George W. Davis, Almeron Dickinson, Graves Fulshear, Benjamin Fuqua, James B. Hinds, Thomas J. Jackson, Albert Martin, Charles Mason, Thomas R. Miller, John Sowell, Winslow Turner and Ezekiel Williams.
“At some point in that exchange, some Texan somebody on this list said if you think you can take my freedom, you just try to come and take it,” Burchard said. “If you think you can take the freedom of my family, you just try to come and take it.”
“We come from a strong stock. Some of us often overlook, we started twice. We started at 1825, and then later during the revolution, Sam Houston burned our town as Santa Ana was approaching. But we came back and started again after the Texas revolution. We come from strong people who come from strong heritage. We are unique, and our story is unique. There is no other town in Texas that has our story.”
A similar event was held by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 2 in Heroes Square.