Ramblin’ Rhodes: Futurity brings to mind Texans present, past

Doug Jordan, of Lone Oak, Texas, warms up his horse, Spike, during the 2014 Augusta Futurity. Michael Holahan/FILE

This week has seen many Texas residents heading for Georgia for the 38th annual Augusta Futurity cutting horse event, the largest east of the Mississippi River.

 

It’s still underway beginning at 8 a.m. daily at James Brown Arena continuing through the grand final rounds on Saturday night. Check The Augusta Chronicle’s online and print sports sections for details.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp1YDHagAGc

And don’t miss the free Wrangler Family Fun Fest from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, on the arena’s Seventh Street front plaza with a country music band, cloggers, animals to pet and other fun.

Twenty-four Texans have won the Augusta event’s premiere category, the Futurity Open, which showcases professional riders on 4-year-old horses.

But in the early 1800s, many Georgians were heading west to help the residents of Texas fight for their independence from Mexican control.

The Chronicle in September 1819 printed a declaration of independence as adopted by the supreme council of the republic of Texas in Nacogdoches the previous late July.

“The citizens of Texas have long indulged the hope, that in the adjustment of the boundaries of the Spanish possessions in America, and of the territories of the United States, that they should be included within the limits of the latter,” stated Tennessee-native James Long, president of the supreme council.

Long, as The Chronicle reported, said the citizens of Texas “have prepared themselves unshrinkingly to meet and firmly to sustain any conflict in which this declaration may involve them.”

We, of course, in retrospect know that ultimatum eventually led to the siege of the Alamo mission outpost near present-day San Antonio. That battle concluded on March 6, 1836, with the Texas defenders, including legendary pioneers James Bowie and Davy Crockett, being killed by Mexican soldiers.

What many Texas visitors to Augusta this week may not know is that the commander of the Alamo, Col. William Barrett Travis, and his cousin, James Butler Bonham, were from Saluda, S.C., less than 40 miles northeast of Augusta.

The Chronicle in July 1947 reported on the dedication of a large monument placed on the square of the Saluda County courthouse to honor the local celebrities.

“What Leonidas was to the Spartans, these men are to the people of Texas,” proclaimed 79-year-old keynote speaker and local attorney B.W. Crouch. “In honoring these heroes, we are setting an example that I hope other counties of South Carolina will follow. This state has been too neglectful of its distinguished sons.”

S.C. Gov. Strom Thurmond, later to become a famous U.S. senator, took the occasion at where he once taught school and practiced law, to draw a parallel of the Alamo.

He reiterated a plea he had recently made at a national conference of governors and called for an improved national defense and military preparedness.

The ceremony on the courthouse square included a band from Fort Jackson near Columbia, a Marines color guard from Parris Island and a barbecue lunch prepared by the Saluda American Legion post.

Texas, of course, not only owes its gratitude to South Carolinians Travis and Bonham but also to several Georgians including Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, who was born in 1798 an hour south of Augusta near Louisville.

Lamar grew up on his father’s plantation near Milledgeville and moved westward where he founded the Columbus (Ga.) Enquirer newspaper. He proceeded to the territory of Texas where he became the first vice president and second president of the republic of Texas after Sam Houston. Lamar is credited with suggesting the new capital city of Austin be built on the Indian frontier beside the Colorado River.

And then there is Joanna Troutman of Crawford County, Ga., west of Macon, who at 17 sewed the five-pointed, lone star flag that was taken to Texas by the Georgia Battalion and eventually adopted as the state’s official banner.

Texans also have honored James Fannin, believed to be born in Morgan County, Ga., near what is now Madison. He briefly attended the University of Georgia before also briefly attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He distinguished himself at a Texas battle known as the Goliad Massacre in 1836, three weeks after the fall of the Alamo.

Fannin died along with 340 of his men when he was captured by Mexican forces and executed. The battle, along with the Alamo, became a rallying cry for Texas independence. There is a county in north Georgia named after him.

And you don’t have to look but across the Savannah River from downtown Augusta to learn of two more heroes who made Texas what it is today.

Francis “Frank” Richard Lubbock and Thomas Saltus Lubbock were two brothers from the town of Hamburg, S.C., located in the 1800s where the River Golf Club in North Augusta exists today.

Their father, Henry Thomas Willis Lubbock, was captain and co-owner of three steamboats owned by Hamburg’s founder Henry Shultz.

Thomas Lubbock, born in Charleston, S.C., after growing up migrated to Texas and helped fight for Texas independence. During the American Civil War, he and other Texans organized themselves into a troop with Lubbock becoming a lieutenant colonel in what now is known as the original Texas Rangers. The city and county of Lubbock, Texas, are named after him.

His brother, Frank, born in Beaufort, S.C., eventually became a governor of Texas. When his term ended in 1863, he was appointed the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army and in 1864 became military aide-de-camp to President Jefferson Davis. He was Davis’ expert on Union and Confederate operations west of the Mississippi River.

Lubbock accompanied Davis’ party in retreating from the Confederate capital city of Richmond, Va., and heading southward into Georgia where they were captured by federal authorities near Irwinville, Ga., south of Milledgeville.

And guess where Lubbock was taken in May 1865 along with President Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens and other fallen leaders of the Confederacy to be put on a steamboat bound for Union prisons? None other than the Sixth street docks on the Savannah River in downtown Augusta where his father once operated steamboats for Hamburg founder Shultz!

Talk about coming full circle in your life.

Lubbock, after being released from prison, became tax collector in Galveston, Texas, and, from 1878 to 1891, was treasurer of the state of Texas.

So, here’s a salute to the Lone Star state where I was born (Gainesville) and a remembrance of those Georgians and South Carolinians who helped bring about its independence.

PIANO TRIBUTE IN WAYNESBORO: Canadian pianist Jim Witter will bring his musical tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel to the Burke County Office Park for a performance at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, for the Waynesboro-Burke County (Ga.) Concert Series.

Tickets at $20 for adults and $5 for students are available online at iTickets.com and at the door. Call (706) 437-0070, visit burkeconcert.org or visit Facebook for other details.

Witter has won several Juno Awards for Canadian musicians and his 2003 album Forgiveness was nominated for a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association.

 

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