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BUCKNER, AYLETT C.

BUCKNER, AYLETT C. (1794?–1832). Aylett(e) C. (Strap) Buckner, filibuster, Indian fighter, Old Three Hundred colonist, and folklore hero of colonial Texas, was the son of Aylett and Elizabeth (Lewis) Buckner of Louisa County, Virginia. Red-headed, of Irish and Scottish ancestry, he was supposedly nicknamed "Strap" because of his prodigious size and strength. He traveled to Texas as early as 1812 as a member of the Gutiérrez-Magee expedition and returned in 1816 under Francisco Xavier Mina and in 1819 with Dr. James Longqv. He probably spent some of the intervening years in the Natchez, Mississippi, area. With Peter Powell and Oliver Buckner he settled around 1821 on Buckner's Creek in the area that later became Fayette County. In his letters to Stephen F. Austin, Buckner said that he had been one of the first to build a cabin on the Colorado River, that he had kept an open house ever since he came, and that he had lost more property to Indian depredations than anyone else on the river. He was listed in the March 1823 census of the Colorado district as a twenty-nine-year-old farmer. Buckner became one of Austin's Old Three Hundred settlers when he received title to one sitio of land on July 24, 1824, and two labores on August 24, 1824, all later in Matagorda County. In the summer of 1824 he was probably among those sent by Austin to make a treaty with Waco and Tawakoni Indians near the site of present Waco. The census of March 1826 listed Buckner as a single man with four servants and one slave.

In 1825 he had some conflict with Austin over the location and amount of his land and attempted to hold a meeting to protest against Austin, who consequently ordered Andrew Rabb to arrest Buckner for seditious conduct. After consulting with Jared E. Groce and John P. Cole, Austin was able to work out a better understanding with Buckner. After a quarrel with James Cummins, Buckner wrote Austin that he wanted to be buried under his own soil and that he wanted to buy a thousand acres of land. In January 1826 Austin selected Moses Morrison, William Kincheloe,qqv and Buckner as judges for an election for alcalde for the district of Mina. In 1826 Buckner made a trip to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, to find out whether or not he could claim land as compensation for his services in the Mina and Gutiérrez expeditions.

As early as May 1826 Buckner was named by Austin as a commander of the militia against local Indians, and in the winter of 1826 he was part of a retaliatory expedition against a band of Karankawas believed to have killed the families of Elisha Flowers and Charles Cavanagh. Probably because of Buckner's disagreements with Austin, Benjamin W. Edwards solicited his aid in the Fredonian Rebellion in December 1826, but Buckner signed resolutions of protest against the rebellion and ultimately became a faithful member of the colony and a close friend of Austin. He was in command of an attack against the Karankawa Indians at Live Oak Bayou in 1831, and in 1832 he led a company of volunteers from the area of present Fayette and Matagorda counties at the battle of Velasco. There, on June 25 or 26, 1832, he was killed.

Though legend has it that the Indians (who, impressed by his strength, reportedly nicknamed Buckner the "Red Son of Blue Thunder") offered him marriage with Indian princess Tulipita, Buckner never married. One historian has suggested that perhaps it was in part this lack of heirs which allowed the growth of ever-more outlandish legends of his strength and size. Notable among these are the tales of how with one blow he turned back the huge black bull Triste Noche, which had been terrorizing the colony, and how after this feat he was emboldened to challenge the devil himself to a duel. The best account of the latter legend appears in Nathaniel Alston Taylor's 1877 travelogue, The Coming Empire; Or, Two Thousand Miles in Texas on Horseback.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Eugene C. Barker, The Life of Stephen F. Austin (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1925; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1949; New York: AMS Press, 1970). Eugene C. Barker, ed., "Minutes of the Ayuntamiento of San Felipe de Austin, 1828–1832," 12 parts, Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21–24 (January 1918-October 1920). Florence Elberta Barns, "Building a Texas Folk-Epic: The Materials and the Process Which Formed the Saga of Strap Buckner, " Texas Monthly, October 1929. Lester G. Bugbee, "The Old Three Hundred: A List of Settlers in Austin's First Colony," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 1 (October 1897). J. H. Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 6–7 (January, April, July 1903). Matagorda County Historical Commission, Historic Matagorda County (3 vols., Houston: Armstrong, 1986). Worth Stickley Ray, Austin Colony Pioneers (Austin: Jenkins, 1949; 2d ed., Austin: Pemberton, 1970). Nathaniel Alston Taylor and H. F. McDanield, The Coming Empire, or Two Thousand Miles in Texas on Horseback (New York: Barnes, 1877; rev. ed., Dallas: Turner, 1936). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Leonie Rummel Weyand and Houston Wade, An Early History of Fayette County (La Grange, Texas: La Grange Journal, 1936).

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

"BUCKNER, AYLETT C.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbu09), accessed April 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.