Milvern Harrell, survivor of the Dawson Massacre, was born in Troy, Missouri, on March 24, 1824, the son of William and Minerva (Woods) Harrell, and the nephew of Norman B. Woods and the grandson of Zadock Woods. He was living in Fayette County near the site of present West Point in 1842 when he joined the company of Nicholas M. Dawson to go to the relief of San Antonio and was taken prisoner by Adrián Woll after the battle of Salado Creek. Harrell made an unsuccessful attempt to escape by swimming the Rio Grande and was marched to Mexico and held in Perote Prison until March 23, 1844. Back in Fayette County by May 1848, he volunteered with Bell’s Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers for service in the Mexican War.
By 1850, Harrell lived as a farmer in Gonzales County with his first wife, Malinda Dixie Pettit, whom he had married in 1849. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he volunteered for service with a company of Texas State Troops from Gonzales County. He continued to live in Gonzales County before moving at some point in the 1870s to Caldwell County where he remained until his death in August 1910. Harrell’s Reminiscences of his Mexican experiences were published in the Dallas Morning News on June 16, 1907. When he died in August 1910, he was the last survivor of the Dawson massacre. He was buried in the Waelder Cemetery in Gonzales County.
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Galveston News, March 31, 1907. Houston Post, August 16, 1910. L. U. Spellmann, ed., "Letters of the 'Dawson Men' From Perote Prison, Mexico, 1842–1843," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 38 (April 1935). Leonie L. Weyand, Early History of Fayette County, 1822–1865 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1932).
Campaigns, Battles, Raids, and Massacres
Republic of Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 09, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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