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Historical Blacksmithing in Texas

Remember The Alamo

by Richard Boswell

Every time around the Sun, especially in February and March, it becomes the season to Remember The Alamo and what people did there during the years leading up to the harsh winter of 1836.

As New Spain was developed, the blacksmith was here. One of the early smiths was Juan Banul who was working in San Antonio de Béxar by 1719. According to a Belgian-Texas history site, "Banul accompanied the Marqués de Aguayo to East Texas on an expedition to build missions and presidios and stayed until 1723. Back in San Antonio, he did much of the ironwork at the missions of San Antonio de Valero and San José. In 1730 Banul and Maria Adriana García, a Flemish widow, were married. They lived at Valero, later called the Alamo, where Banul ran the blacksmith shop and sawmill."

Here is a note from How the Alamo got its name ....

"It's difficult to pinpoint when the Valero mission was first called "Alamo." Many early references address La Compañía de Alamo de Parras as "El Alamo," which was often seen as an abbreviated name form in correspondence and other official documents.

The predominant name forms used by the company from its arrival in 1803 until and after 1807 were "San Antonio de Valero" or "Bejar", referring to the Presidio de Bejar to which the company had been sent as reinforcements.

However, in January of 1807, Antonio Cordero, in his correspondence to the commandant at Trinidad wrote:

...Among the 25 men from the Alamo, who in compliance with orders of the day, must go from that post to Atascosito, you will send the gunsmith of that company with his anvil and other implements...

Again in February of 1807, Nemesio Salcedo writes,

"...Your Lordship, should give heed to the necessity of furnishing horses to the troops at Bejar, Bahia, and Alamo..."

[Spanish Archives Translations, J. Villasana Haggard. Vol.22]"

Several years later the natives got restless. Well, maybe it was the new settlers stirring up the politics. Down in Gonzales the spark was lit in the Fall of 1835 when they said "Come and Take It".

The Alamo defenders were significantly aided by a blacksmith who was in charge of the cannon during the Gonzales confrontation. Almaron Dickinson (Dickerson) came to Texas from Tennessee. His wife and daughter survived the battle and were sent out to tell Texas that Santa Anna was coming. He was good with the artillery pieces which were plentiful in The Alamo thanks to General Cos leaving them behind when he was graciously allowed to leave after the first Seige of Bexar.

The events begun that Fall and Winter in Gonzales, Goliad and The Alamo concluded in Springtime at San Jacinto which also benefited from forged iron. See this Twin Sisters story about what people can still do when they want to. It begins....

"Texas history is a blazing saga of legends and myths that transcend time. The fiery spirit that hurled the shackles of an oppressive tyrant into the fires of revolution and forged a republic on the anvil of the Alamo has never died."

There were many blacksmiths involved and participating in the events creating Texas. Even after the creation, we can find them active, such as John Beckmann who helped rebuild The Alamo starting in 1846.

Our page on Historical Blacksmithing in Texas contains more info, and you are invited to submit content. For instance, send us the story of your grandfathers shop and how you benefited from such.

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Last updates were on March 04, 2007

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