A Lesson on Texas History in Old San Patricio
On March 11, President General Dr. Betty Edwards traveled from Houston to join the Daughters of the Clara Driscoll chapter in placing a historic marker at the Santa Margarita crossing on the Nueces River. The crossing, located on Spanish land founded in 1806 by Martin DeLeon, was called Rancho Santa Margarita.
Historically, this crossing was important as it was a major crossing from Matamoras into Texas, and then onto the Refugio Mission and Mission Espiritu Santo on the San Antonio River. To protect this crossing from illegal immigration, Fort Lipantitlan was established on the Nueces River by the Mexican Army in 1831. General Vincent Filisola used this crossing as he led his defeated Mexican troops back to Mexico after the battle of San Jacinto. General Zachary Taylor marched his troops to the Rio Grande River using this same crossing. This road was called by many names: “the old Matamoras Road,” “the Atascosito Road,” and “the Cotton Road” during the Civil War.
En route to the Santa Margarita crossing, the Clara Driscoll Daughters pulled off the road to give the group a tour of a tiny church in “Old San Patricio.” Built in 1830 from willow poles with an earthen floor and a palmetto thatched roof, the Irish colonists celebrated Mass in their St. Patrick’s Church; the second and third churches were destroyed by fire and hurricanes.
The Daughters entered the current St. Patrick’s and a delightful surprise awaited – the stained glass windows on the right side of the building were what one would expect in a Catholic church: symbols of the faith. But, on the left side of the church, the windows told the history of the area!
The Irish Empresarios McMullen and McGloin of San Patricio and their counterparts in Refugio, Power and Hewetson brought a number of Irish colonists to Texas who would sign the Goliad Declaration of Independence (25); the Texas Declaration of Independence (4); die at the Battle of the Alamo (11); die at Goliad (14); and fight at the Battle of San Jacinto (100, which accounted for 1/7th of the total force). When counties were established in Texas, San Patricio and Refugio were among the first; the date was March 17, 1836: Saint Patrick’s Day!
After viewing this historic church with its “Texas history” windows, the President General and the entire group was thrilled to be part of this very special day. Our thanks to the Irish colonists and to the Daughters of the Clara Driscoll chapter.