Thursday, August 20, 2009

Journal Entry: Texas, 1835

Journal Entry: Fall, 1835, Brazoria, Texas

Today is my 16th birthday. Mama and I have prepared for this most wondrous occasion for two months. She wanted a beautiful, grown-up dress for me to wear to my party, so she sought the services of Miss Emilie Milam to create a very special gown. No longer shall I wear calico, nor style my hair in braids, nor run and play with my brothers. Ladies do not act in such a manner in our household, each member is born to a role, and best we carry out our duties or most likely face the wrath of Papa.

Secretly, I shall miss the days of riding my pony bareback across the coastal plains, through our plantation, chasing my brothers, for all four of them can out-race me every time. Ah, well, such is the lot of the female persuasion. Now, my brothers believe they have become my protectors, especially when young gentlemen look my way. Brazoria County fairly bursts with bachelors, young men, some wealthy, some poor, but each one seeks a bride to ensconce in his home.

One young man, a Mr. Randolph Long, nears my person at every opportunity, at church services, all-day dinners, and when Mama and I shop in town. Papa forbids me to speak with him alone; as a result, our conversations become awkward, as each of us stumbles on words we know perfectly well. After my party—of which he will attend!—I plan to speak with him as any grown woman may do with any gentleman she wishes.

Worrisome events have surfaced over this part of Texas. Papa hears tales in town, at the saloon, the community hall, and the warehouse, and he brings the stories home to share with Mama and my brothers. Of course, they all believe they have protected my delicate ears, but I listen and they do not know. It seems a crisis of some sort has arisen in Anahuac, a small place not far from our home. I am uncertain of its exact location, but the news is that General Santa Anna sent a small detachment of soldiers to Anahuac to enforce the collection of customs there and in Galveston. The merchants and the wealthy landowners—such as my papa—object to this unfair treatment, and when Papa speaks of the Santa Anna’s army and their ways, he becomes red in the face and begins to pound on the table!

Now, just before my party, he tells of a gathering of Mexican troops, more as the days go by. But the most frightening news comes from Gonzales, where Papa said a Colonel Domingo de Ugartecha, commander of troops in San Antonio, sent five cavalrymen to Gonzales to retrieve the six-pound canon that had been provided four years earlier for defense against the Indians. The Texan officer in charge hid the canon, telling the military he had no authority to give it up. He sent out dispatches calling for military aid.

Four hundred Texans, who worked in a loosely formed military troop, heard the call, turned from their original destination, Goliad, and marched to Gonzales. One hundred Mexicans soldiers were already there to seize the canon. But a Colonel Moore and one-hundred and sixty Texans loaded the canon with chains and scrap iron, and strung a banner across it inscribed “Come and Take It.” Then the Colonel and his men attacked the Mexican troops, forcing them to retreat to San Antonio. I wanted to cheer! However, I did not wish to reveal my hiding place from which I listened avidly of the exciting battles.

Dread fills my heart, now that I understand what is to come. Papa says we must prepare, put away our frivolous desires for the present, and do our part to secure Texas for ourselves. I can only pray the war does not last too long.
My party will go on, however, and I must end this writing to don my beautiful dark blue silk gown, adorned with a lovely inset of lace, and an ivory brooch at my throat. Handsome coils of braid divide the lace from the silk. Underneath, my pantalets are of the finest linen, and my petticoat is of a fine silk. Mama will arrange my hair atop my head, in a manner befitting a grown young woman. I do hope I look beautiful, or at least pretty, for a photographer will capture me in my new gown. Would it not be magical if someone two hundred years hence finds my photograph and wonders about me?

Signed--Elmina Ingram

Note from author: The sixteen-year-old young woman in the photo is one of my Texas ancestors, but I did not use her real name. I have no idea where she grew up or lived in Texas. I took the date from the photo, 1835, and used historical events of the beginning of the Texas Revolution. The story my ancestor writes, however, is fiction, a figment of my imagination.

Celia Yeary
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25 comments:

P.L. Parker said...

So very cool! I have a number of mid-1800's photos of my ancestors, and know the stories surrounding them. What a good idea.

Patsy

Celia Yeary said...

Thanks, P.L.--I have a box full of these, and I could write a story about every one of them. My sisters and I spent an entire week, sorting and cataloging,and had a big stack reproduced so each of us could have copies. If my house caught on fire, I'd grab my computer first, that box of photos next. Celia

sugarnspicewriters said...

What a great job you did. I truly believed the words were from her diary until I read your note.

Judi Phillips

Jennifer Ross said...

That was awesome! And who knows, you could have had it close to the truth.

Paty Jager said...

Well done, Celia! I thought sure it was a real diary entry. You caught the flavor and the essence so well.

Lauri said...

This was wonderful, Celia! I really thought it was a dairy, was actually thinking, "Wow, for only being 16, this girl can write!"
LOL

Helen Hardt said...

Wonderful blog, Celia -- I enjoyed it very much!

Helen

Celia Yeary said...

Thanks-Judi--This is not the first thing I wrote and readers thought it was real. It's fun--I also created a plot for a novel in my head by the time I finished it.Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Jennifer--Maybe it is close. No doubt many a party or celebration was cut short becasue of battles.
Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Thanks, Paty--tha'st quite a compliment. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Lauri--glad you enjoyed it. Have you ever read historic letters from a male or female. Back then, they really did write more eloquently with much more fourish than we do today. Today, an editor would cut much of that out as "useless words" or "hooptedoodle." And at 16, a female was a woman. My grandmother was married at age 13 to a 24-year-old-man. Imagine.
Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Thanks, Helen--I'm glad you stopped by. Celia

Chiron said...

The photo is wonderful and the story that sprang from the inspiration is once again, fantastic. Celia, you are amazing!

--Chiron

Cheryl said...

Celia,

What a great idea! I love this! I have some old pics like that, too, but know very little about the PEOPLE themselves other than how they are related. Kind of sad. Makes you want to keep a journal that you can pass down so other generations will know what our thoughts and feelings are about things, not just our children and grandchildren, but those that will be here 200 years from now. Very thought provoking!
Cheryl

Debra St. John said...

This is so clever. My den is decorated with pictures of our ancestors...hmn, maybe I should write their stories?!

Tanya Hanson said...

Great post, Celia. I love the inspiration I get from antique family photographs. And while I mourn the "loss" of history, I actually like the unlabeled photos more because my imagination can race full-steam.

Totally loved this.

~Tanya

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Celia,
Wonderful story, and what a pretty girl.
Regards
Margaret

Celia Yeary said...

Chiron--I couldn't have received a better compliment. Thank you, my friend--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Cheryl--I know what you're saying. See? I created a story from this photo, and from that little bit, my mind is racing. Maybe our historical novels will be legacies, for our grandchildren--you think, Cheryl? Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Debra--study each photo--I'll bet you immediately hear a story in your head. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

TANYA--I know you have a wonderful vivid imagination. Try writing a short story, anything, about an ancestor hanging on your wall.Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Thanks, Margaret--yes, I thought she was especially pretty, considering most of my antique photos. She comes through my grandmothers line, through my daddy. My daddy had blond curly hair and blue eyes, and was so good-looking. Someday, I'm going to make him a hero in a novel. Celia

Mary Ricksen said...

What a great inspiration!

Mona Risk said...

What a lovely story Celia. And the picture is so purty!! I thought it was a trues story you found!!!

We moved so much the only old picture I have is that of my grandparents wedding. When my daughter got married, I gave her a frame with 4 wedding pictures. My grandparents', my parents', my own, and her wedding pictures. It's interesting to see the different fashion of wedding dreses and men's suits.

Cate Masters said...

I loved this, Celia! You gave such a true voice to this young woman, and set her in precarious circumstances - I hope you'll flesh it out and submit it!