Old Bayview Mesquite R.I.P.

Historical Period: Early Statehood (1845-1861)
Historical Topic: Border Wars, Republic of Texas
Species: Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
County: Nueces
Public Access: No longer applicable; tree is dead

"A military funeral took place today (September 14, 1845) at the burial ground which I selected. It is on the brow of the hill northwest of camp, and commands a view of the Nueces and Corpus Christi bays. It is a beautiful spot.” This was the diary entry of Lt. Col. Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commanding officer of the first American troops to occupy Texas soil by authority. The funeral he describes was for seven soldiers, including two officers, of the Army of Occupation under the command of Brigadier General Zachary Taylor.

Colonel Hitchcock had transferred on August 1, 1845, from the steamer Alabama to St. Joseph Island, and by sundown was in Corpus Christi with Companies K and G of the 3rd Infantry. Just six weeks before, the Texas Congress had accepted a resolution by the U. S. Congress favoring annexation of Texas as the 28th state.

The spot Colonel Hitchcock describes as beautiful is now known as Old Bayview. It is the oldest federal military cemetery in Texas. For years, it was used as a community burial place and contains the graves of many pioneer settlers, as well as those of veterans of the War of 1812, the Texas War for Independence, the Mexican War, various Indian campaigns, the War Between the States, and the more recent global conflicts.

At the center of this historic cemetery, near the brow of the hill, the venerable old Bayview Mesquite stood as a monument to these honored dead and a witness to the beginning of the Mexican War. The tree died and was removed in the late 1990s.