A Matter of Perspective

In a state as diverse as Texas, it is surprising that we are only just beginning to understand that one's view on history is determined by perspective. A radio story by the Texas Standard points out that Anglos were the first undocumented immigrants to Spanish Texas (story here). What some call battles, others call massacres; liberation for some may be an expulsion for others. 

 Concepts of Manifest Destiny led Anglos to believe they "owned" land that was occupied and settled by others.

Concepts of Manifest Destiny led Anglos to believe they "owned" land that was occupied and settled by others.

I am on that thought because in looking back at notable November events in Trammel's Trace history, one of the most significant in both the history of east Texas and later the Texas Revolution, was also was a major event in the life of Nicholas Trammell.

On November 25, 1825, Trammell laid claim to a league of land on both sides of the Trinity River crossing of the El Camino Real. The problem with that was that it was already owned by a Spanish citizen named Ignacio Sartuche. Haden Edwards, an empressario given a contract by Mexico, used heavy handed tactics to illegally grant land to Anglos like Trammell. 

The relationship between Trammell and Sartuche is like many of old Nick's acquaintances -- a mix of patronage and dominance. There is evidence that Sartuche continued to live on the land, and that Trammell may have helped him with food and supplies. Trammell may have been living there a year prior to the claim.

Sartuche tried to reclaim his land in December 1824, but the sale continued. Ultimately, this led to an entirely different story about how Trammell was evicted from the crossing, his half-brother was killed by Martin Parmer, and the whole series of events led to the Fredonian Rebellion. The rebellion was one of a growing number of attempts to wrest Texas from Mexico.

Texas heroes, or land-grabbing invaders? Perhaps simply opportunists in either case. 

Six days after Trammell's eviction, Ignacio Sartuche's Trinity River land claim was resurveyed. Sartuche walked the boundaries with the surveyor and exercised the typical Spanish demonstrations of ownership. Sartuche gave thanks to God as he pulled up weeds and tossed them in the air. At each of the corners, he tossed stones and cried aloud, perhaps tossing one in the direction of Trammell's hasty retreat. Dirt and stones flew behind Trammell as well, but only those loosened by his horse's hooves as he escaped north up Trammel's Trace.