Sunday, September 23, 2012

An IRISH Story

The Eagle has landed

In 1725 a very poor widow called Jane Houston was \"just about\" managing to live in Ballyboley, County Antrim { Her less than useless husband had managed to drown himself in a ditch one night, while returning home very drunk} and at a time of severe famine in the north of Ireland was finding it hard to survive with her four young sons. She managed to stay alive and even married again but eventually decided to take her family to America. Under the Ulster custom of Tenant Right she was entitled to be paid for the improvements she had made to her small farm and this provided enough for the passage money to the New World from the port of Larne.

The Houston boys grew up in New York and like many other Ulster immigrants they moved south and west. One went down through the Alleghenny Mountains to Virginia. Samuel Houston married Elizabeth Paxton, and in 1793 at Timber Ridge Virginia, their fifth child, Sam Houston was born. The Houstons moved on to Tennessee in 1807, and it was there that Sam Houston would come into contact with the Cherokee Indians.

At that time the dictator of Mexico, General Santa Anna led an army of 5,000 men north to solidify Mexico\'s control of the vast Texas territory which was being defended by a scattered force of American settlers. Sam Houston became the Commander In Chief of this settler army. Once the powerful Mexican army arrived in the settlement of San Antonio, it found itself confronted by a force of 182 men, mostly of Ulster-Scots descent who had taken up defensive positions in the ruined church at the Alamo.

They were led by the brave young Colonel William Travis and among them were Jim Bowie whose family came from Aughnacloy and Davy Crockett whose roots were in the Strabane and Donegal, both sons of Tyrone. For the next 13 days they repulsed repeated assaults, delaying the advance of the Mexican army, until they were finally overrun by the superior force. The Mexicans paid a high price for taking the Alamo loosing 1600 killed in the process. The Alamo defenders bought precious time for the remaining American forces to consolidate and prepare for an offensive strike.

The defenders of the Alamo were to all perish before Houston could reach them, but subsequently his forces defeated the Mexican General Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, and thereby secured the independence of Texas. Sam Houston, direct descendant of the Houstons emigrants of Ballyboley,now a hero, was to become the first President of Texas and passed into American folklore. Santa Anna was defeated and the future of Texas was secure as part of the Union.

In his honor a small village was renamed, Houston, and was to grow into a city in the 20th century with the discovery of oil and in time became America\'s Space Centre. As Apollo touched down on the moon\'s surface the waiting World received that now infamous message
\"Houston, Tranquility base, the Eagle has landed\" so the very first word ever spoken by a mortal man from the surface of another planet was the name of a poor widow woman from Ballyboley in County Antrim.

Quite a journey

Thanks to Ulster Ancestry at http://www.ulsterancestry.com/newsletter-content.php?id=699 for the above.

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