Many years ago, the city of San Antonio de Béxar was part of Spain's empire in the Americas. Then, in 1821, Spanish Tejas became Mexican Tejas when Mexico achieved Independence from Spain. So at that moment in History, San Antonio de Béxar became part of a brand new country — Mexico. And, in less than 20 years, Spanish Families (primarily descendants of Canary Islanders) from Tejas, called Tejanos, and recent Anglo settlers in Tejas planned to break away and rebel against this new country of Mexico.
Their struggle was the beginning of Texas Liberty and Independence.
And Independence came at a cost. So many men and women, Anglos and Tejanos gave and sacrificed so much, sometimes everything, for this Texas Independence cause. And unfortunately, most of that generation in Texas lost everything during that time.
Today we celebrate and remember our Texas revolutionary heroes. Men like Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, William B. Travis, James Fannin, Stephen F. Austin, David Crockett, Almaron Dickinson, and James Bonham always come to mind.
Still, History would ask you, "Who was Juan Seguín? What did he personally contribute, lose, or risk ensuring Texas' freedom, sovereignty, and Independence during our revolution?"
Juan Nepomuceno Seguín aka Juan Seguín was born in 1806, in San Antonio de Béxar, New Spain now San Antonio, Texas to a wealthy San Antonio ranching family. Juan was a revolutionary and politician who helped establish the Independence of Texas. Juan was very well-known and respected in San Antonio and surrounding areas. His family had a house near "La Plaza de San Fernando" on Nueva Street. And his family had a beautiful hacienda at their ranch near what is now Floresville called — Casa Blanca.
Juan's great-paternal grandfather, Bartolomeo, arrived in San Antonio in 1718, making the Seguin's one of the first families to settle in this new city of San Antonio de Béxar.
Juan's father, Erasmo, José Antonio Navarro, and Juan Martin de Veramendi were the prominent Spanish elite gentlemen of San Antonio chosen by the Spanish Governor to aide Moses Austin first, then later Stephen Austin, with the installation and settlement of the "Ol' 300 families." The actual first 300 families to legally settle in Texas in some of the most beautiful lands God has ever created in east Texas. These Spanish Gentlemen welcomed their new Anglo neighbors into their land.
In Mexican Tejas, many individuals in San Antonio, including Juan Seguín, wanted Tejas to be its own Mexican state and sided with Stephen Austin, who wished for the autonomy of this region. As a teenager in Mexico, Juan had a strong interest in politics. In 1829, Juan Seguín was elected alderman in San Antonio de Béxar at 23. He became the Mayor of San Antonio in 1833. But by 1835, political tensions escalated between the Mexican government, and Anglos and Tejanos in Texas objected to Mexican Pres. Antonio López de Santa Anna's harsh regime and centralist policies. So, the Anglos and the Tejanos decided to stand united against Mexico. Their stand proved a considerable risk since just 20 years ago, the Texians and Tejanos suffered a colossal defeat, with extreme vengeance, at the Battle of Medina.
In late September 1835, sensing that war with Mexico was imminent, Seguín took it upon himself to call an emergency meeting in his hometown. He instructed Chava and Manuel Leal the responsibility of inviting all the young vaqueros of San Antonio and surrounding areas to convene at the Flores de Abrego Ranch. As a result, many local Tejanos met at the Flores ranch on September 28, 1835. That meeting consisted entirely of Juan's childhood friends from San Antonio and surrounding areas. At that gathering were the Flores Brothers (his brothers-in-law), Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Cruz de Arocha, Manuel Leal, Juan Abamillo, the Courbière brothers, and Trinidad Coy. Also at that historic meeting were several young Tejanos like Carlos Chacon, age 17, and Carlos Espalier and Fernando Courbière, age 16.
That day the group formed the now-famous Tejano Volunteer Company, and Juan Seguin was elected leader of the militia. Under his leadership, the TVC would recruit and command fighting Tejanos for the Texian Army. This military unit started with 61 men, would reach 232 by the end of the revolution, and would participate in many crucial revolutionary skirmishes and battles.
Soon after the skirmish at Gonzales, Stephen F. Austin commissioned Juan Seguín, a Captain in the new Texian Revolutionary Army. Austin then gave Juan Seguin the crucial task of supplying the Texian troops with food and provisions. For this, Captain Seguin turned to the wealthy Tejanos, who favored Independence. Independence supporters like Jose Antonio Navarro, Erasmo Seguín, Jose Miguel de Arciniega, and Jose Flores de Abrego (Flores's brother's father) assisted greatly with this task.
Then, in late October 1835, at the beginning of the Siege of Bexar Campaign, General Austin ordered Col. Bowie and Col. Fannin to find a suitable and safe location for the Texian Army to camp. Bowie immediately called on his friends, Captain Seguín and his Tejano Volunteer Company, for this task. It turns out that not only did Bowie know and respect these young Tejanos, but Bowie recognized that nobody knew the Texas area and terrain like the Tejanos, especially after dark. So by the fall of 1835, just two years after taking the office of Alcalde of San Antonio, a young (28 years old) Captain, Juan Seguín, was feeding, supplying, and securing safe shelter for a newly organized Texian resistance force.
Now the stage is set for the birthing of a new nation.
From October 1835 to April 1836, 12 battles would take place in Texas, determining the war's outcome. It seems that History would put Juan Seguín right smack in the middle of all major historical battles and events. Juan had a front-row seat and witnessed the birthing of this new nation — Texas. Juan Seguín bravely fought in and participated in the following historical events.
During the Siege of Béxar campaign, Juan Seguín participated in the Battle of Concepcion and the Grass Fight along with Texian leaders and personal friends Colonel Jim Bowie and James Fannin.
Juan also fought at the Battle of Béxar, the campaign's final phase. Under the leadership of Colonels Burleson, Milam, and Johnson, Texians and Tejanos bravely stormed the homes downtown. That winter, the Texians and Tejanos captured the city of San Antonio de Béxar. The Siege of Bexar was a successful campaign for the rebels, and Juan was there.
Juan Seguín was also a defender at the Alamo, along with many of his Tejano friends. He would lose good friends that fell there on March 06, 1836. He escaped death because Travis sent him out as a messenger to Gonzales before the Alamo fell.
After the Alamo, Juan's orders from General Houston for his Tejano Volunteer unit were to "guard the retreat" of the withdrawing Texian Army during the Runaway Scrape. Several times Seguín's fighting Tejanos engaged advance units of the Mexican Army to keep the retreating Texian Army safe. Seguín and his men knew the area well for defensive-type guerrilla warfare.
History remembers a young Captain, Juan Seguín, at a crucial historic battle. Juan led the TVC, as part of the Texian force, at the highly successful Battle of San Jacinto near modern-day Houston, Texas.
At that battle, Juan led his Tejano Volunteer Company (52 Fighting Tejanos), mostly his cavalry officers, and successfully charged and attacked the enemy's right flank that afternoon. That battle would become Juan and the TVC's moment of glory.
After the battle, defeated and captured, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna personally surrendered Texas to General Sam Houston. Santa Anna then surrendered the city of San Antonio de Béxar to now — Lt. Colonel Juan Seguín. And just like that, Texas was born as a Republic, and Tejano Patriot Juan Seguín and the TVC patriots were there.
But, in 5 short years after the battle of San Jacinto, San Antonio de Béxar had changed from being predominantly Tejano to becoming predominantly Anglo. The new arrivals of Anglos now outnumbered the local Tejanos 5 to 1. The best way to describe the relationship between the Tejanos and the Anglos in San Antonio after the War for Texas independence was — Not Good.
It seemed then, in 1841, like just yesterday, that Texians and Tejanos were in the fight of their lives, fighting side-by-side against a common enemy. And in 1842, Juan Seguín was again elected Mayor of San Antonio de Béxar. Still, some of the newly arrived Anglo population, which now represented the majority, did not know or care who Juan Seguín was — and the others had forgotten.
Imagine this headline on a San Antonio newspaper of the time:
WEALTHY RANCHER - TEXAS PATRIOT - MAYOR OF SAN ANTONIO, Juan Seguín forced to abandon his mayoral post and relocate his family to Mexico due to deadly threats!
The new Republic of Texas was not ready to allow Tejano participation in government. True, Seguín was elected as a Texas Senator from 1837 to 1840 and worked closely with Congressman José Antonio Navarro. Together they prepared and presented legislation that would be in the best interest of citizens of Spanish descent in Texas. The Spanish descendants were quickly becoming the political minority. But that all changed in 1842 when enemies of Juan Seguín forced him to leave Texas because now there was a new saying in Texas. It was a famous slogan circulated among the San Antonio de Bexar population and repeated everywhere — TEXAS FOR TEXANS. And — that did not include Juan Seguín or his family. So he was forced to leave Texas with his family and live among his enemies in Mexico.
What was once a Spanish Villa and a Tejano City, San Antonio, Texas, would not see another Hispanic Mayor for 139 years! Then, finally, the next Hispanic Mayor of San Antonio was elected in 1981. His name — is Henry Cisneros.
After the Mexican American War in 1848, Juan Seguín was finally permitted to return to Texas, to Floresville, Casa Blanca. But no parades were waiting for Juan or invitations to be honored in Austin or San Antonio as a living hero of the Texas Revolution. Instead, only the city that bears his name, just east of San Antonio, honored him in his lifetime in 1839.
In the final analysis, it can be said that Juan Seguín served and protected Texians during the rebellion. Juan served proudly and bravely in its front lines, all in the name of Texas Liberty and Independence, for Tejanos and Anglos.
So again, History is asking, "Who was Juan Seguín?"
You can factually say that this young man, Juan Seguín, was a patriot who loved Texas and stood for freedom. He saw his duty and did it without hesitation. He inspired and influenced many Tejano and Anglo principles of that era. Seguin fed an army when it was hungry and provided that army with the tools and supplies it needed to achieve its objective of winning the war.
History remembers this young man of our revolution as one of the most exemplary citizens San Antonio has ever produced. Juan was from one of San Antonio's oldest and most respected families. Juan was a young, brave man who rose to the rank of Lt. Col. in the Texian Army during the Texas Revolution. Juan was the Mayor of San Antonio on several occasions and an early Texas Senator of the Republic. And he led the most successful militia of the Texas revolution.
Juan Seguín was a true Texas Patriot - A Hero of the Texas Revolution.
Seguín's famous quote: "Texas shall be free and independent, or we should die in glorious combat!" still resonates in the hearts of Texans today.
This post is dedicated to all Juan Seguín's descendants living today in Texas and worldwide. They continue to proudly carry the torch of freedom handed down to them by Juan Nepomuceno Seguín, leader of the Tejano Volunteer Company, to benefit this great republic, Texas.
And, Thank You, Juan Seguín, for having the vision for a Free and Independent Texas and the courage to fight for what you believed in.
Texas Heroes - Never Forget!
Juan Seguín, Wikipedia.
Juan Seguín Tejano, revolutionary and politician, by The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Giants of Texas History, Juan Seguín, Texas State Library and Archives Commission TSLAC.
Seguin, Juan Nepomuceno, by Jesús F. de la Teja, Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)
If you love Texas and Texas history then join us in our efforts to promote both the history and the heroes of our Texas revolution. Support our efforts, stop by our virtual store and check out all the cool merchandise. Thank you for all your support. -Gonzo