— By TYLER MASK
The Battle of the Alamo was a 13-day siege beginning on Feb. 23, and ending on this day in 1836, marking one of the biggest events in the fight for Texas independence. Although many know about heroes such as James Bowie, William B. Travis and the infamous David Crockett, there were many others who have gone mostly unnoticed by the common public – one of whom was put to rest in Palo Pinto Cemetery.
According to Texas State Historical Association, George Webb Slaughter, 1811-1895, was born to William and Nancy Slaughter in Lawrence County, Miss. His family moved to Louisiana in 1825 before moving to Sabine, Texas, in 1830. Although Slaughter eventually became a Baptist minister and rancher, he started out working as a courier for Sam Houston. One of his most famous assignments was to deliver letters directly to Travis at the Alamo.
“Furthermore, I was to go on to the Alamo to inform Travis of the movements of the Mexican army and to advise him to evacuate that place and join Houston at once, which Travis after consulting with Col. Bowie refused to do,” Slaughter said in an 1894 interview with a Dallas newspaper. “On my return by Fannin's encampment he again sent Gen. Houston a letter by my hands advising Houston to come into his works. On the next day I again went with a letter from Gen. Houston to both Travis and Fannin, urging Fanin and commanding Travis to join him immediately, as Santa Anna was within a short distance of the Alamo and could bombard that place or starve out the garrison at pleasure. Travis again refused, as did Fannin also.”
Eventually, Houston commissioned Slaughter to go back and check on the Alamo once more. On his way to the ill-fated mission, Slaughter pulled out his spy glass, spotting two people, a black man and a white woman, walking from the Alamo towards him. When he met with the two, it turned out to be a woman named Mrs. Dickinson and her servant, who had been sent with a letter by Santa Anna to inform Houston of the fall of the Alamo. Dickinson told Slaughter what had happened over the 13-day siege, including a traumatic event after the fall.
“About sunrise a Mexican whom she afterward learned to be Santa Anna approached the door of her room and asked her in good English to come out and show him the body of Col. Travis,” Slaughter said. “After looking at the bodies of the soldiers and officers she finally came upon the body of Col. Travis, which she pointed out to Santa Anna. He then drew his sword and cut off Travis' head and had it placed upon an iron spear over the gate, supposing it, as she thought, to be the body of her husband. She showed him the bodies of Crockett, Bowie and several other officers, but he offered no indignity to any of them in her presence.”
Later that year, in October, Slaughter married Sarah Jane Mason, and the couple went on to have 11 children.
In 1844, he was ordained, preaching in Sabine and the surrounding areas until his father's passing in 1851. At this time, Slaughter moved his cattle to Freestone County.
In 1857, Slaughter landed 5 miles north of present-day Palo Pinto. During this time, he preached, practiced medicine and continued to ranch. He was a prosperous rancher, extending his land to Young County in 1860.
Slaughter drove cattle in partnership with his son, Christopher Columbus Slaughter, and moved to Kansas for a period of five years in 1870 until he broke off his partnership, deciding to head back to Texas to ranch with another son, Peter Slaughter.
Slaughter continued to ranch for a few more years before selling his share in 1884. He passed away in Palo Pinto March 19, 1895.
To visit Slaughter's grave, stop by Palo Pinto Cemetery and search for the largest gravestone. To learn more about Slaughter and other historical figures in Texas history, visit www.tshaonline.org.