The Last Messenger – Ancestor of Grand Marshal
Grand Marshal of The TIDC 2015 Parade, James Veale shares his family ancestor.
John William Smith – 1792-1845
The Last Messenger to Leave the Alamo
John William Smith., also known as El Colorado, marked history as the last messenger from the Alamo and the first anglo mayor of San Antonio. Born in Virginia, on November 4, 1792, he moved as a youth to Ralls County, Missouri. There he served as tax collector and sheriff and then married Harriet Stone in 1821. They had three children. In 1826 Smith followed the impresario Green DeWitt to Texas. When his wife refused to join him, he parted from his family and she obtained a divorce. Later she remarried and moved to Texas in 1839.
Smith lived in Gonzales, then in La Bahía, and by 1827 had moved to San Antonio. In 1828 he became Catholic in order to own land under Mexico. In 1830 he married María de Jesús Delgado Curbelo, a descendant of Canary Islanders. Between 1827 and 1836 Smith served as military storekeeper, developed mercantile interests and received a sizable Mexican land grant. He also worked as a civil engineer and surveyor.
As Texans’ desire for independence grew, war with the Mexican Army broke out. In December 1835, Smith escaped the occupying Mexican army of General Martín Perfecto de Cos and joined General Edward Burleson and the Texas army in besieging San Antonio. In early 1836, he joined William B. Travis in defense of the Alamo; he was sent by Travis as the final messenger from the Alamo to the Convention of 1836 meeting at Washington on the Brazos. Subsequently, Smith participated in the battle of San Jacinto.
After Texas independence was gained, he returned to San Antonio, where he held a number of offices. He was mayor of San Antonio for three, one-year terms during the 1830s and 1840s. He was also alderman, Bexar County tax assessor, clerk of the Bexar County Court, clerk of the Board of Land Commissioners of Bexar County, clerk of the Bexar County Probate Court, treasurer of Bexar County, postmaster of San Antonio, Indian commissioner of the Republic of Texas and Senator from 1842 to January 12, 1845. At one time he held as many as eleven different commissions under presidents Sam Houston and Mirabeau B. Lamar. While serving as senator from Bexar, he died on January 12, 1845, after a brief illness, possibly pneumonia, at Washington-on-the-Brazos and was buried at the site of the current Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park. His remains were later relocated to the Washington City Cemetery, where they are marked by a stone monument.