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The Land Baron and the Lady

The city of San Antonio is my hometown. I was born in Santa Rosa Hospital, which was founded in 1869 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. It was the first hospital in San Antonio, and remains highly regarded to this day. My first school was Collins Gardens Elementary. It was named for Finis Foster Collins who donated the property. The first stages of the school building were constructed in 1914, with many additions later. It remains at the original location.

In the third grade, I started attending Maverick Elementary on the north side of San Antonio. Maverick was built in 1952, and was named after Samuel A. Maverick, a lawyer, congressman, and respected mayor of San Antonio. The school remains in an area known as Sunshine Ranch, which is part of the original Spanish land grant given to Maverick when he arrived in San Antonio in 1835 from South Carolina.

Born in Montpelier Plantation, Pendleton, S.C., on July 28, 1803, Maverick graduated from Yale College, and studied law in Virginia before moving to Texas. In October 1835, he was placed under house arrest by the Mexican army while visiting friends in San Antonio. Once he was released, he joined the Texas army in the Siege of Bexar, and led them back into town to defeat the enemy. Maverick kept a journal of that battle that provides the best historical account of that encounter.

In early 1836, Maverick was a part of the Texan army that gathered inside the Alamo waiting for the attack of Santa Anna. Because the convention to declare independence was scheduled at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the embattled soldiers under Colonel Travis elected Maverick to represent them. While attending the convention, all of his fellow heroes were lost in that famous battle. Memories of his friends caused him to be a strong advocate for a self-governing Texas and he gladly signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. He was very active in Texas politics and served in the Texas legislature that made Texas the 28th state in 1845. From 1851 to 1863 he served two terms in the Texas House and Senate. He then served the city of San Antonio as mayor and a Bexar County Chief Justice.

Following the Civil War, Samuel A. Maverick made many donations of land titles to the state and worked for reconstruction. He had amassed so much land that he was one of the wealthiest men in Texas. Though he had much cattle, he was an advocate for freedom and independence, so he did not brand them or fence them in. Often his roaming cattle mixed with those of other ranchers, and they became known as “mavericks.” He was a true Texas hero, and died on September 2, 1870.

On August 4, 1836, Maverick married Mary Ann Adams at her home at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and with her returned to San Antonio. Mary was born on March 16, 1818, and bore 10 children, four of which died before the age of eight. In her grief and sorrow, Mary began to seek help in the Scriptures. She became a dynamic Christian and found help through prayer and a close relationship with the Lord. This devotion led her and Samuel to secure the services of premier architect Richard Upjohn to design and build St. Mark’s Episcopal church in San Antonio. In commemoration of their love for the Lord and their deep respect for the defenders of the Alamo, they located one of the canons used in the battle, and had it forged into the bell for the church bell tower. Whenever that bell rang, it brought back many sacred memories for the community.

Mary was a gifted writer who kept profuse notes of her life in historic Texas. Before she died on February 24, 1898, she and son George compiled, edited, and published “The Memoirs of Mary A. Maverick.” This book gave an amazing account of the dangerous life and times of frontier San Antonio, and the surrounding area. Her detailed memories of the Council House Fight in 1840 will make you laugh and weep at the same time. She also writes about her wedding, her social life, and her brother who had prophetic dreams.

Both Samuel and Mary are buried side by side in the old City Cemetery #1 on East Commerce Street in San Antonio. The land baron and the lady will long be remembered as tremendous people of wisdom and Faith. May we all leave such a powerful testimony.

In the late nineteen sixties, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young hit the charts with the song, “Teach Your Children Well.” The opening phrase was:

You who are on the road

Must have a code that you can live by

And so become yourself

Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well.

While the song correctly addressed a generation that was rebelliously living without a social or moral “code,” it failed to make a difference. Samuel and Mary Maverick made a difference.

Do you remember the words of two Godly men in Scripture, who did all they could to leave a Godly heritage? King David wrote: “For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name” (Psalm 61:5). And the Apostle Paul wrote: “That I might live for God” (Galatians 2:19). There it is. May the fact that you lived for God be the inheritance that others receive from you.

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