Black heroes played key roles in the Texas Revolution


April, 19, 2009

A free African-American in 1836 rendered “valuable assistance” to the Texas Army during the Texas Revolution, according to a historical marker on his grave near Nacogdoches.

Records show that William E. Goyens and many others -slaves and freemen and indentured servants – all were involved in the revolution 173 years ago.

But in the past, many history textbooks lacked this information.

On San Jacinto Day this year, former Texas Rep. Al Price plans to do his part to rectify this lapse in the Lone Star State’s record.

Price will speak at Theodore Johns Library at 7 p.m. Tuesday regarding the contributions of African-Americans to the cause of Texas independence from Mexico.

“The participation of African-Americans is something that has been subdued,” Price said. “I graduated from high school not knowing that blacks had fought for independence. It was not in the books we were given in the classroom.”

In fact, a soldier said to be the first to shed blood for Texas’ independence was a free mulatto born to a slave mother and her white master, according to “Bricks without Straw,” a history of African-Americans in Texas by David A. Williams.

Samuel McCullough Jr., part of a volunteer company under Capt. James Collinsworth, was wounded by gunfire at Goliad on Oct. 9, 1835. The wound left McCullough handicapped for the rest of his life, but he was rewarded with a land grant in 1838 as well as being exempted from an 1840 legislative order compelling free blacks to leave Texas.

Black soldiers from Southeast Texas also served.

Luke and Tapler Ashworth fought with Capt. Hargrove’s’ Company out of Beaumont, and Abner and William Ashworth contributed money and supplies.

The Ashworth family was a prominent one in Southeast Texas, Price said.

Joseph Tate, a free African-American, was listed on the army rolls as a member of Capt. James Shessire’s company of volunteers out of Jasper.

He, along with others, also were exempt when free blacks were ordered out of Texas, although whether or not Tate and the Ashworths received land grants is not known.

Hendrick Arnold, a hunter, guide and scout of good reputation, acted as a guide during the siege and capture of Bexar.

“During the Texas Revolution, Hendrick Arnold, described as one of the oldest and boldest pioneers of the west, joined the army and fought valiantly for his adopted country,” Williams wrote in “Bricks Without Straw.”

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