Deaf Smith Oak R.I.P.

Historical Period: Texas Revolution (1835-1836)
Historical Topic: Stephen F. Austin, Texas Independence
Species: Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
County: Guadalupe
Public Access: No longer applicable; tree is dead

High up in this tall live oak, which commands a wide view of the surrounding countryside, Erastus “Deaf” Smith is supposed to have spied on Mexican troops which were camped on Cibolo Creek.

A few days earlier, on October 2, 1835, a small force of Mexican troops attempted to retrieve a cannon from the Texans at Gonzales but were put to flight in the first battle of the Texas Revolution.

After hearing of the incident, Mexican Colonel Ugartachea, in charge of the Mexican Army at San Antonio, proceeded to Gonzales to recapture the fieldpiece and “erase the insult” to Mexican authority which the rebels had committed.

When volunteers from the settlements heard of the first blow for Texan liberty they hastened to Gonzales to join in driving the Mexicans out of Texas. On October 10, Stephen F. Austin arrived at Gonzales and was elected commander-in-chief by the army. By the 12th, when they set out for San Antonio, the Texas forces has grown to about 500 men. They crossed the Guadalupe River and camped on the “flats” a few miles east of this live oak.

Deaf Smith was one of the first to enlist in Austin’s army of Texans. Being thoroughly familiar with every part of the country between San Antonio and Gonzales, he was a logical choice to scout Ugartachea’s advance.

Apparently Ugartachea learned of Austin’s growing strength and chose to avoid contact, for when the Texans reached the Cibolo on the 16th, the Mexicans were gone.

The Deaf Smith Oak is located near the town of La Vernia, on the Circle-N Dairy. Please respect private property by viewing the tree from the road.