Greetings! The last few months have been filled with a lot of activity for the Friends of the THC as we planned and scheduled virtual events celebrating our 25th anniversary. We launched these events in February with a foodways discussion and demonstration from the Magoffin Home State Historic site, followed by a March book discussion, "Thursday Night Lights: The History of Black High School Football in Texas” by author Michael Hurd. Additional events are planned for April, May, and June, and we hope that you will be able to join and help us celebrate the work we do and the people we do it with—the THC staff and volunteers, and you, our supporters. These events are free, but we have very much appreciated the gifts some of you have made in celebration of our special year. At this time I want to invite ALL of you to join us, as our Spirit of Texas Patrons or Leadership Circle partners, to support the critical work of preserving our legacy for future generations. Please consider making a gift in celebration of 25 years of our partnership with the Texas Historical Commission.
With warm regards on behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Friends of the THC,
Anjali Zutshi, Executive Director
The Almonte Surrender Site Acquisition
The FTHC supports the Commission in securing this key missing piece of the Texas revolution story
During the 2019 legislative session, the Texas Legislature transferred a set of historic sites from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to the Texas Historical Commission. Among these is the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Harris County. This 1,200-acre site encompasses much of the area where the Texan and Mexican armies fought the final, decisive battle of the Texas Revolution on April 21, 1836. The Texan victory secured independence for the fledgling Republic of Texas. This site has been a place of history and remembrance since the first acreage was acquired by the State of Texas in 1883. Along with the other Texas Revolution historic sites owned and managed by the THC—San Felipe de Austin, Fannin Battleground, Washington-on-the-Brazos—the San Jacinto Battleground allows the THC to trace the larger story of the Texas Revolution across its historic sites, offering a more robust learning of the history of Texas.
In 2009, a survey was done of a 50+ acre, privately owned parcel to the south and east of the historic site’s current boundary. The results of the survey and artifacts discovered strongly suggested that this was the site where Colonel Juan Almonte and approximately 200 Mexican troops surrendered to the advancing Texian forces. This was the single largest surrender during the fight, in which half of the Mexican forces were killed. According to historians and experts in the history of the Texas Revolution, the “Almonte’s Surrender” site provides one key missing piece of the Texas Revolution story.
Almonte's Surrender: On April 21, 1836, two small armies faced each other across a tall grass prairie on the coastal plain of San Jacinto. The Mexican force led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna had been reinforced with 500 troops that morning and the commander was feeling confident, dismissing the idea that the ragtag army facing him was a real threat. Expecting an attack at sunrise, the Mexican troops had spent the night throwing up a defensive breastwork, and by mid-afternoon Santa Anna sent his troops to rest, planning to attack the Texans the next morning. In the hot, late, lazy afternoon the quiet was broken by rifle fire on the Mexican right, causing confusion and a scramble for weapons. Just as the Mexican troops realized they were being attacked on the right, the main body of Sam Houston’s small force announced itself with artillery fire from the Twin Sisters, matching six- pound cannons, a gift of the City of Cincinnati. The confused and disoriented Mexicans withstood the Texan assault for 18 minutes before their lines collapsed and they retreated in a panic for survival.
For the next two hours, Texan soldiers took revenge for what happened at the Alamo and Goliad. Mexican soldiers who tried to surrender were killed outright, so most ran as hard and as fast as they could. As twilight neared, the frenzied chase slowed as exhaustion on both sides took effect. Colonel Juan Almonte, who was forced to flee like the rest, realized that groups of soldiers surrendering were being taken captive while individuals were not. Almonte worked to gather about 200 soldiers in the woods along Peggy’s Lake. The troops lined up in columns and surrendered to a dozen or so Texans and Secretary of War Thomas Rusk. Almonte’s surrender, the largest single surrender of troops, effectively ended the Battle of San Jacinto. Nine Texans were killed or mortally wounded during the attack, and over 600 Mexican soldiers lay dead or dying across more than a mile of marsh and prairie. This battle secured independence for the newly created Republic of Texas and set in motion a series of events that would allow the United States to grow into the nation that we know today.
The Texas Historical Commission is working on acquiring the 50 storied acres of the "Almonte Surrender" site, which will allow the agency to tell the full story of the Battle of San Jacinto. The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission is honored to partner with the Commission to raise funds for this time-sensitive acquisition.
25 Years of Service to the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission!
This year marks the 25th anniversary since the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission's founding as the state agency's partner. Harriet Latimer was the founding chair of the nonprofit in 1996, and has served on the board supporting the Texas Historical Commission's work for the last 25 years.
A Houston native and graduate of Rice University, Harriet has worked in the field of philanthropy for 35 years. Beginning with her first compensated role as development director for the Armand Bayou Nature Center, Harriet has worked with numerous leading nonprofits and grassroots organizations, compensated and non-compensated, throughout Texas.
Please join us in thanking Harriet for her support of historic preservation in Texas as she continues to serve on the Board of Trustees of the FTHC!
Preservation Scholars Program 2021
Thank you to our funding partners who have provided support for summer 2021 internship placements!
The Preservation Scholars Program is administered by the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission and places undergraduate and graduate students who identify as part of an underrepresented ethnic and/or cultural group in a ten-week, paid summer internship with the THC.
Our 2021 cohort will begin their internships with the Texas Historical Commission in June! These paid internships would not be possible without the generosity of the donors who support the program.
The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission is honored to have the support of the Still Water Foundation, the Fondren Fund for Texas of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sally Anne Schmidt and Marc Tabolsky, Renee Dutia, and the many individuals who donated in memory of José Contreras.
25th Anniversary Celebrations—Virtual Events
As part of our 25th anniversary celebration, we're holding virtual events each month to meet and connect with fellow Texas history enthusiasts! Join us for these upcoming events:
Celia's Bake Oven at Villa de Austin
Virtual Food History Discussion and Historic Recipe Demonstration from San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site
Date: Saturday, April 24, 2:00 p.m. CDT
Hungry for Hot Sauce
Virtual Food History Discussion and Cooking Demonstration with Casa Navarro State Historic Site and Landmark Inn State Historic Site
Date: Saturday, May 8, 11:00 a.m. CDT
Harris Who? Intriguing Texans Who Have Slipped Out of the History Books (Or Were Never There)
A Conversation with Houston Chronicle columnist and author Joe Holley
Date: Thursday, May 27, 6:00 p.m. CDT
Ida Eisenhower's Kitchen
Virtual Food History Discussion and Historic Recipe Demonstration from Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site
Date: Saturday, June 12, 2:00 PM CDT
Friends Alliance Awards
Nominations open April 30
In coordination with the THC Historic Sites Division's Community Partnerships Program, the FTHC is accepting nominations for the 2022 Friends Alliance Awards to honor outstanding volunteer efforts by local friends groups or individuals who support the THC's historic sites.
The nomination period opens April 30 and closes at noon on July 9, 2021. Learn more about the Friends Alliance Awards and previous award winners!
Meet Hope Barrón, FTHC Social Media Intern
Hope Barrón was born and raised in the border town of El Paso. She graduated from New Mexico State University in 2020 with a degree in journalism and media studies and a minor in communication studies.
Hope has held internships at the El Paso Downtown Management District and the El Paso KFOX & CBS news station. Both opportunities ignited her passion for digital and multimedia storytelling. She's also had the opportunity to write for several publications, including USA Today College, Her Campus, Latinitas, Tejano Tribune, and The Round-Up.
In addition to working at the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, Hope is the public relations co-chair for the nonprofit Mija, Yes You Can; their mission is to unite and to encourage women and young girls that an equal world is possible. The organization aims to provide resources and education to women and girls to help them achieve their ambitions in life, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. She is also a tutor for the Miner Athlete Academic Center at the University of Texas at El Paso.
“Having the opportunity to work with the Friends of the THC has been amazing. Although I’ve been here only a short time, I’ve truly enjoyed cultivating the organization’s social media presence and telling remarkable stories of the people and places of Texas, all while supporting historic preservation. The team has been so welcoming and it’s an exciting time to be a part of the organization as we celebrate our 25th anniversary! I’m looking forward to the rest of my journey with the FTHC!”