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CLEMENTS, JOSEPH D.

CLEMENTS, JOSEPH D. (?–?). Joseph D. Clements, early DeWitt colonyqv settler and public official, was a prominent citizen of Gonzales. He arrived in Texas before April 1830, for it was then that he entered into a partnership with Green DeWitt to build a sawmill and gristmill on the Guadalupe River some twenty miles above Gonzales. The sawmill plans never came to fruition, but the DeWitt papers make repeated references to the gristmill.

In December 1834 Clements was elected to the Gonzales ayuntamiento as regidor and the next year served as a Gonzales delegate to the Consultation of 1835. In his capacity as regidor Clements became a leading figure in the events that led to the battle of Gonzales. When 100 Mexican dragoons arrived on the west bank of the Guadalupe River and demanded the town's tiny cannon, alcalde Andrew Ponton was out of town, and the responsibility of negotiating with Francisco de Castañeda, the commander of the Mexican detachment, fell upon Clements. When the Mexican detachment arrived on September 29, 1835, only eighteen local militiamen, including Clements-the "Old Eighteen"qv-stood ready to defend the river-crossing opposite Gonzales. On September 30 Clements informed Castañeda that Ponton had not returned but was expected shortly. If, however, the alcalde should fail to appear soon, Clements agreed to assume the responsibility of discussing the matter. Later that day Castañeda returned to find Clements waiting with a letter penned by him and approved by the Gonzales ayuntamiento. The letter stated emphatically that the men of Gonzales refused to surrender their ordnance. Clements ended his communication on a defiant note: "We are weak and few in number, nevertheless we are contending for what we believe to be just principles." Clements and the other members of the Old Eighteen were soon reinforced by volunteers from several surrounding settlements, and on October 2, 1835, during the battle of Gonzales the Texans attacked Castañeda's detachment and forced it to withdraw to San Antonio de Béxar (see GONZALES "COME AND TAKE IT" CANNON).

Clements remained active in the revolution that his actions had helped instigate. In March 1836 he was appointed president of the commission to procure corn and meal for the Texas army. He is also reported to have sold provisions to the army at that time. The gristmill that he and DeWitt had established in 1830 was destroyed in 1836, most likely during the Runaway Scrape. In 1838 Clements served as president of the Board of Land Commissioners of Gonzales County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Edward Albert Lukes, De Witt Colony of Texas (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

Stephen L. Hardin

Citation

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

Stephen L. Hardin, "CLEMENTS, JOSEPH D.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcl27), accessed August 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.