Historical Articles

1. General Stephen F. Austin and Captain Juan Seguin: A Personal Relationship

By Bill Neeley

Having ridden with his father Don Erasmo Seguin to the eastern border of Texas as a boy of fifteen, young Juan Seguin joined his father in warmly welcoming the auburn-haired young Anglo-American colonizer, Stephen F. Austin, to Texas. In the years ahead, Juan grew into manhood under the influence of his learned father Erasmo as well as Stephen Austin, in whom the young Tejano found a man who would serve as his mentor and older friend. As the Seguins led Austin deeper into Texas, he found the site where San Felipe de Austin would spring to life. Juan would be a frequent visitor to the growing settlement on the Brazos River.

The bond between the Austin and Seguin families was strengthened even further when Stephen's younger brother Brown, two years older than Juan, arrived in Texas not knowing a soul, except his brother. As Stephen was about to make the long trip to Mexico City to ratify the grant his father Moses had received from the Spanish, Stephen needed to find Brown a place to stay while he was in Mexico for the better part of a year. The familia Seguin opened their home and their hearts to Brown, and he and Juan became very close. Whether in the stone house in San Antonio or at Casa Blanca, the name for his white-washed ranch house thirty miles to the south, Don Erasmo and Juan made Brown feel like he was part of the family. When Stephen returned from Mexico City with his grant ratified by the Mexican government, the young colonizer was grateful for the hospitality of the Seguins to Brown. Unfortunately for Brown and those who loved him, he contracted yellow fever on a trip to New Orleans and died short of his thirtieth birthday. It was a blow to Stephen and to Juan.

The Seguins and other leaders of the Tejano community welcomed immigrants from the United States in the hope that their numbers and industry could transform the moribund economy of Texas, which was stunted in large part because of raids from Comanche and Apache warriors. All the while, the Tejanos continued to implore the central government for help in defending their lives and property from the attacks. But Mexico was involved with internal conflicts, causing government officials to ignore the needs of Tejanos just as the Spanish before them had done. Juan Seguin as he grew older intensified his belief in personal liberty and self-governance, a philosophy that placed him in Austin's camp, not that of any Mexican leader.

Consequently, when war broke out between Mexico and Texas, General Stephen F. Austin needed competent junior officers for the army he was building, and he knew where to find a captain who would faithfully follow his orders, one unlike some adventurers streaming into Texas from east of the Sabine, who obeyed whenever they "took a notion" to do so. Austin knew he could depend on Juan Seguin's loyalty and sense of duty. Austin's letter of appointment reads as follows: "The accredited patriot D. Juan Seguin is appointed captain in the federal army of Texas, and as such is fully authorized to raise a company of patriots to work against the Centralists and military in defense of the Constitution of 1824 and the federal system." 1836

Captain Seguin fought bravely under General Austin until Austin left Texas to seek funding in the United States to support the war effort against Santa Anna. Seguin remained loyal to Austin until his untimely death not long after the independence for which he had given all of his energies, and eventually his life, had been achieved.

The above is excerpted from A Tejano Knight: The Quest of Don Juan Seguin by Bill Neeley. Copyright © 2017 Bill Neeley. All rights reserved.

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