William Frels, founder of Frelsburg, was born in 1810 in the grand duchy of Oldenburg, Germany. In response to a letter from Friedrich Ernst, one of the first German settlers in Texas, printed in the Oldenburg newspaper, Frels joined Robert Kleberg and Louis von Roeder and immigrated to Texas. Frels arrived in Galveston in December 1834 and first located near Ernst’s settlement, Industry, but within a year moved westward to the fledgling community of Kraewinkel (Crows Nest) in what is now Colorado County. He participated in the siege of Bexar and commanded a company of German volunteers in the revolutionary army. He was a survivor of the battle of San Jacinto. Afterward he and Peter Pieper laid out a community that was opened to settlement in 1837. Frels donated land for a Lutheran church, school, parsonage, and cemetery, and under the name Frelsburg, the community flourished. William Frels died on March 20, 1870, and is buried in the cemetery he donated to the community.
José Miguel Aldrete, Mexican official and early Texas patriot was born in Texas. For a number of years he served in the ayuntamiento at Goliad and was alcalde in 1823–24 and from 1830 to 1833 and he was collector at the port of El Cópano. In 1830 he represented the Mexican government in the secularization of the mission.
Aldrete, probably the largest landowner in the Refugio area at the time, was land commissioner of the state of Coahuila and Texas in 1835 and was functioning as such when Antonio López de Santa Anna dissolved the state government. He immediately espoused the Federalist cause and was a member of Ira Westover’s Lipantitlán expedition, after which he went to San Antonio de Béxar where, according to some accounts, he was a member of the Texan army during the Siege of Bexar. He was a member of Philip Dimmitt’s garrison at Goliad and a signer of the Goliad Declaration of Independence. Aldrete furnished many animals and supplies to the Texas army during the Texas Revolution and was one of the few Mexicans who enjoyed the confidence and friendship of Dimmitt .
About 1840, after living in Goliad and Victoria, Aldrete moved back to Refugio County. He, like many other family members, was a warm abettor of the Mexican Federalists. From 1841 to 1844 he was a justice of Refugio County. Upon him was conferred one of the orders of the papal nobility. In addition to their holdings in Refugio County, the Aldretes owned large ranches in the Nueces River region. Aldrete lived in Corpus Christi in 1854. About the time of the fall of Maximilian’s empire, he moved to Chihuahua, Coahuila, where he died sometime before 1873.
Edward Burleson was born in North Carolina December 15, 1798. He served as a private in the War of 1812. On October 20, 1817, Burleson was appointed a captain of militia in Howard County, Missouri; he was commissioned colonel on June 13, 1821, in Saline County, and was colonel of militia from 1823 to 1830 in Hardeman County, Tennessee.
He arrived in Texas on May 1, 1830. On August 11, 1832, he was a member of the ayuntamiento at San Felipe de Austin. On December 7, 1832, he was elected lieutenant colonel of the militia of Austin Municipality. In 1833 he was elected a delegate to the Second Convention in Mina. From 1830 to 1842 he defended settlers in numerous engagements with hostile Indians. On May 17, 1835, in Bastrop he was elected to the committee of safety and was therefore unable to attend the Consultation of 1835, although he had been elected a delegate. On October 10, 1835, in Gonzales he was elected lieutenant colonel of the infantry in Gen. Stephen F. Austin’s army. On November 24, 1835, Burleson became general of the volunteer army and replaced Austin. On November 26, 1835, he fought in the Grass Fight during the siege of Bexar. His father was active in this battle, which was won by the Texans.
On December 1, 1835, Burleson was commissioned commander in chief of the volunteer army by the provisional government. On December 6 he entered Bexar and, with Benjamin R. Milam, wrote a report to the provisional government. On December 14, 1835, he reported on the success at Bexar to the provisional governor, Henry Smith. The volunteer army disbanded on December 20, 1835, and Burleson raised a company and rode to Gonzales in February 1836. By March 10, in Gonzales, he was officially elected colonel of the infantry, First Regiment. On April 21, 1836, at the battle of San Jacinto, he commanded the First Regiment, which was placed opposite Mexican breastworks and was the first to charge them. Burleson accepted the sword and surrender of Gen. Juan N. Almonte.
From July 12 to December 1836 he was colonel of the frontier rangers. In 1837 he surveyed and laid out roads to Bastrop, La Grange, and other Central Texas places. On June 12, 1837, he became brigadier general of the militia established by the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. As a representative of the Second Congress from September 26, 1837, to May 1838, Burleson served on the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, the Committee on Military Affairs, and the Committee of Indian Affairs, of which he was chairman. In 1838 he was colonel of the First Regiment of Infantry in the new regular army and on April 4, 1838, defeated Mexican insurrectionists under Vicente Córdova. In the spring of that year Burleson laid out the town of Waterloo, the original settlement of the city of Austin. He was elected to the Senate of the Third Congress but resigned on January 19, 1839, at President Mirabeau B. Lamar’s request, to take command of the Frontier Regiment. On May 22, 1839, Burleson intercepted a Córdova agent with proof that Mexico had made allies of Cherokees and other Indians. He defeated the Cherokees under Chief Bowl in July 1839.
John McGregor, bagpiper and Alamo defender, was born in Scotland. McGregor lived in early 1836 in Nacogdoches. He took part in the Siege of Bexar and later served in the Alamo garrison as a second sergeant of Capt. William R. Carey’s artillery company. It is said that during the siege of the Alamo, he engaged in musical duels with David Crockett, McGregor playing the bagpipes and Crockett the fiddle. McGregor died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
Albert Martin was born 1808 in Rhode Island and died March 6, 1836 defending the Alamo. He arrived in Gonzales, Texas in 1835 and ran a general store. At the outbreak of the Texas revolution, he was one of the “Old Eighteen,” defenders of the Gonzales “Come and Take It” cannon. He served as a officer and was part of the Texas force that besieged San Antonio de Béxar in the autumn of 1835. By December 19, 1835, he was back in Gonzales recovering from a foot injury and returned to Bexar sometime before the Alamo siege. On February 23, 1836, the first day of the siege, he was sent by Lieutenant Colonel William B. Travis as an emissary to the Mexican force. He met General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s adjutant, Colonel Juan N. Almonte, who rejected Martin’s invitation to come to the Alamo and speak directly to Travis. On the following day, he left the Alamo carrying Travis’s famous letter “To the People of Texas.” He passed the message to Lancelot Smither in Gonzales, returned to the Alamo with the relief force from Gonzales, arrived on March 1, 1836 and died five days later in the battle of the Alamo.