Smither, Launcelot (1800–1842)

By: Bill Groneman

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Launcelot Smither, Alamo defender and courier, later treasurer and mayor pro tem of San Antonio, was born in 1800. He came to Texas from Alabama in 1828 and was granted a league of land on the Brazos River in Austin's colony but never farmed the land. He spent most of his time in San Antonio de Béxar, where he traded horses and acted as an unofficial doctor for the Mexican garrison stationed there. In September 1835 Smither accompanied the Mexican force under Lt. Francisco de Castañeda to Gonzales, where he acted as an emissary between the Mexican force and the townsmen in the Mexicans' attempt to lay claim to the Gonzales "come and take it" cannon. In the course of the negotiations Smither was taken prisoner by the Texan commander, Col. John H. Moore, and was not permitted to return to the Mexican camp. After the fight for the cannon Smither remained in Gonzales. He accompanied the Texas force under Stephen F. Austin on its march from Gonzales to Bexar but was ordered back to Gonzales to repair damage to the home of Ezekiel William incurred during the fighting. On November 2, 1835, Smither was severely beaten by a group of volunteers who passed through Gonzales robbing houses and terrorizing the town. He was trying to aid Susanna W. Dickinson, who had been driven from her home by the vandals. One month later, the provisional government of Texas authorized payment of $270 to Smither to cover property lost to Castañeda and the vandals at Gonzales. Smither returned to Bexar sometime before the siege of the Alamo. About 4:00 P.M. on February 23, 1836, he left Bexar for Gonzales to spread the word of the Mexican army's arrival. The next day Capt. Albert Martin passed along William B. Travis's famous letter addressed "to the People of Texas and all Americans in the World" to Smither at Gonzales. Smither added his own note to the letter and carried the message on to San Felipe. In 1839–40 Smither served as the city treasurer of San Antonio. From August 19 to September 7, 1841, he served as mayor pro tem during an absence of Mayor Juan N. Seguín. Smither was killed on September 1842, with two others at Sutherland Springs, by Mexican troops under Adrián Woll.

Michael R. Green, "To the People of Texas and All the Americans in the World," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 91 (April 1988). Bill Groneman, Alamo Defenders (Austin: Eakin, 1990). Joseph Milton Nance, Attack and Counterattack: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964). Pat Ireland Nixon, The Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528–1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Lupe Memorial Fund, 1946).
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

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

Bill Groneman, “Smither, Launcelot,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995