Mary Amberson

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Publications

A Brave Boy and a Good Soldier: John C. C. Hill and the Texas Expedition to Mier


Shortly before his fourteenth birthday, John Christopher Columbus Hill left home with his father and older brother to join the ill-fated 1842 Texas expedition to Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico, to end any questions over ownership of Texas. John Hill's capture and subsequent adoption by President Antonio López de Santa Anna is one of the most fascinating and curious to come out of this extraordinary episode in Texas history. After a series of escalating events, including Mexican Gen. Adrián Woll's sudden siege of San Antonio, the Texas Rangers sent out a call for volunteers. On Christmas Day, 1842, the Texans encountered the Mexican army at Mier, and the ensuing battle lasted until the next afternoon. During the fight, John Hill killed at least twelve Mexican soldiers; his brother was seriously wounded; and all of the surviving Texans were captured. John was sent back to Mexico City, while his father and brother stayed with the rest of the group. The Texan prisoners subsequently escaped from prison and were recaptured. A furious Santa Anna demanded that they all be executed. The ensuing decision, to execute one-tenth of the group through a drawing of black beans from a jar, is one of the most legendary events in Texas history.In Mexico City, young John Hill asked President Santa Anna to release his father and brother, who were still in prison. Santa Anna agreed, on the condition that he be allowed to adopt John and raise him in Mexico. John's father agreed, and he and John's brother returned to Texas. John stayed in Mexico City and was enrolled at the Colegio de Minería, or College of Mining, from which he graduated in 1850 with a doctorate in engineering and a degree in mining.The story of John C. C. Hill is one of the most remarkable stories to emerge from Texas's struggle for independence. This volume, offered with an educator's guide for classroom use, will appeal to young and old readers alike.

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A Brave Boy and a Good Soldier Educator's Guide: John C. C. Hill and the Texas Expedition to Mier


Educators Guide: Shortly before his fourteenth birthday, John Christopher Columbus Hill left home with his father and older brother to join the ill-fated 1842 Texas expedition to Mier, Tamaulipas, Mexico, to end any questions over ownership of Texas. John Hill's capture and subsequent adoption by President Antonio López de Santa Anna is one of the most fascinating and curious to come out of this extraordinary episode in Texas history. After a series of escalating events, including Mexican Gen. Adrián Woll's sudden siege of San Antonio, the Texas Rangers sent out a call for volunteers. On Christmas Day, 1842, the Texans encountered the Mexican army at Mier, and the ensuing battle lasted until the next afternoon. During the fight, John Hill killed at least twelve Mexican soldiers; his brother was seriously wounded; and all of the surviving Texans were captured. John was sent back to Mexico City, while his father and brother stayed with the rest of the group. The Texan prisoners subsequently escaped from prison and were recaptured. A furious Santa Anna demanded that they all be executed. The ensuing decision, to execute one-tenth of the group through a drawing of black beans from a jar, is one of the most legendary events in Texas history.In Mexico City, young John Hill asked President Santa Anna to release his father and brother, who were still in prison. Santa Anna agreed, on the condition that he be allowed to adopt John and raise him in Mexico. John's father agreed, and he and John's brother returned to Texas. John stayed in Mexico City and was enrolled at the Colegio de Minería, or College of Mining, from which he graduated in 1850 with a doctorate in engineering and a degree in mining.The story of John C. C. Hill is one of the most remarkable stories to emerge from Texas's struggle for independence. This volume, offered with an educator's guide for classroom use, will appeal to young and old readers alike.

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I Would Rather Sleep in Texas: A History of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the People of the Santa Anita Land Grant


This superb work of history tells the story of the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the people who struggled to make this daunting land their home. Spanish conquistadors and Mexican revolutionaries, cowboys and ranchers, Texas Rangers and Civil War generals, entrepreneurs and empire builders are all a part of this centuries-long saga, thoroughly researched and skillfully presented here.Steamboats used the inland waterway as a major transport route, and fortunes were made when the river served as the Confederacy’s only outlet for money and munitions. Mexican presidents and revolutionaries, European empires and investors, American cattle kings and entrepreneurs all considered this river frontier crucial. Men, women, and beasts braved the unforgiving climate of this land, and its cattle and cowboys gave rise to the great cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. It was and remains a crossroads of international cultures.In this moving account of the history of the families of the Santa Anita land grant, almost two hundred years of the history of the lower Rio Grande Valley (1748-1940) are revealed. An important addition to any collection of Texas history, I Would Rather Sleep in Texas is one of the most complete studies of the lower Rio Grande, abundantly illustrated with maps and photographs, many never before published.In 1790 the Santa Anita, a Spanish land grant, was awarded to merchant José Manuel Gómez. After the land passed to Gómez’s widow, part of the grant was acquired by María Salomé Ballí, the daughter of a powerful Spanish clan. Salomé Ballí married Scotsman John Young, and her family connections combined with his business acumen helped to further assemble the Santa Anita under one owner.In 1859, after Young’s death, Salomé struggled to hold onto her properties amid bandit raids and the siege of violence waged in the region by borderland caudillo Juan Nepomuceno Cortina. Soon after the beginning of the Civil War, she married Scotch- Irish immigrant John McAllen. They participated in the rapid wartime cotton trade through Matamoros and had business associations with a group of men--Mifflin Kenedy, Richard King, Charles Stillman, and Francisco Yturria--who made fortunes that influenced businesses nationwide. Rare firsthand accounts by Salomé Ballí Young de McAllen, John McAllen, and their son, James Ballí McAllen, add to a deeper understanding of the blending of the region’s frontier cultures, rowdy politics, and periodic violence.All the while, the Santa Anita remained the cornerstone of the business and stability of this family. As the lower Rio Grande Valley moved into the modern era, land speculation led economic activity from 1890 through 1910. The construction of railroads brought improved means for transportation and new towns, including McAllen, Texas, in 1905. The book’s ending reveals how, in 1915, Mexican warfare again spilled over the banks of the Rio Grande with deadly results, tragically affecting this family for the next twenty-five years. I Would Rather Sleep in Texas tells a remarkable story that covers a broad sweep of Texas and borderlands history.
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