In these recent blogs, I have researched people and stories of early Texas, and shown how their faith and trust in God impacted history. Hope you enjoy!
The Battle of the Alamo in March 1836, has generated many incredible legends and interesting stories. Since it was 180 years ago, it is difficult to sort out fact from fiction. In fact, no one even knows the exact number of Texan heroes that died in the Battle of the Alamo. We are fairly sure that there were less than 200 Texan fighters present when Mexican General Santa Anna attacked with over 4000 troops.
One of the more interesting Alamo stories involves an eight-year-old boy named Enrique Esparza. This young man was a Tejano, which is a Texan of Hispanic descent. His father, Gregorio, was a faithful fighter with the Texan army. For safety, Gregorio decided to bring his whole family into the Alamo just before Santa Anna attacked. A separate room was given to him and his wife, Anna, and their 4 children. In a strange twist, Gregorio’s brother Francisco chose to fight with the Mexican army. And so the brothers were doomed to fight each other in this historic battle.
Young Enrique moved freely about the Alamo before and during the battle, and was an eyewitness to atrocious horrors. In 1902, at the age of 74, he told his story to the San Antonio Light newspaper. His report was detailed, sensitive, and very emotional. No child should even hear these details of war, much less see it with their own eyes. But Enrique did, and it impacted him for the rest of his life.
After the Battle, it was Francisco who claimed the body of Enrique’s father, and gave him a Christian burial. The other fallen heroes of the Alamo were stacked on funeral pyres and burned without proper sacramental reverence. Gregorio’s remains were buried in Campo Santo Cemetery of the San Fernando Cathedral. He was a true Texas hero.
A few of the non-combatants survived the Battle. Some of the more notable survivors were Susanna Dickinson and her daughter Angelina. She and Joe, the slave of Commander William B. Travis, rushed to Gonzales to warn Sam Houston and the other settlers that Santa Anna was coming their way. The rest of the Alamo survivors were able to return to their homes and resume normal life.
Enrique completed his childhood in San Antonio and became a farmer in Atascosa County, south of the city. He settled on a generous land grant that had been given to him by the State of Texas. This prime agricultural property was located between Galvan Creek and I-37, and supported Enrique and his wife Gertrudes, and their large family. He died in 1917, and was buried in El Carmen Cemetery in Losoya, Texas.
Enrique Esparza was an openly committed Christian. When his business kept him home, he attended the church daily. However, in order to sell his produce, he often had to travel to far away villages. As soon as he returned home, Enrique went to church. He often spoke of his gratitude to God for His protection and safety. The Alamo events, were always in his thoughts, and he was grateful to God for being preserved. Further, he needed the Holy Spirit to calm his memories and soothe his fears.
In an act of great generosity, part of his land was donated for use as a church and church school. On the site, the Texas Historical Commission has place a marker on Leal Road at Martinez-Losoya Road that reads: “Son of Alamo defender Gregorio Esparza, 11-year old Enrique, his mother, two brothers, and sister were present at the siege by the Mexican Army (Feb. 23-Mar. 6, 1836). Hidden in a pile of hay, the youth saw his father fall and witnessed the Heroic death of James Bowie on his sick bed. He then watched the bodies of the Texans burn in two huge pyres. Enrique Esparza's Eye-witness story later became Invaluable, for he was one of few survivors.”
In the Esparza family, we have seen that war can separate brother from brother, even in Christian families. Politics and contrary philosophies of governance can create division among friends and relatives. The Battle of the Alamo pitted a power hungry dictator against people who sought the freedom of autonomous government and religious liberty. In all of this sad conflict, children suffer. God has a better way.
Consider Psalm 33:12 ESV - "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!" The Apostle Paul warned in Titus 3:9, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Do not forget Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Let us remind our elected leaders of these verses and pray for peace.
Finally, remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV, “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”