John Crane, early settler and soldier in the Texas revolutionary army, was probably a native of Virginia and moved from Virginia to Tennessee, where he was a private in the Tennessee cavalry and served as a sergeant in the Tennessee militia in the War of 1812. In 1834 he moved to Texas and settled in what is now Walker County as a member of Joseph Vehlein’s colony. Crane raised a company of volunteers for the Siege of Bexar in 1835 and the next year participated in the Runaway Scrape, during which he cared for his own family and that of his son-in-law, who was with the army at the battle of San Jacinto. From June 30 to September 30, 1836, Crane served in the Texas army in John M. Wade’s cavalry company. He was killed in the battle of the Neches during the Cherokee War in July 1839.
José María Esparza, better known as Gregorio Esparza, defender of the Alamo, was born on February 25, 1802, in San Antonio de Béxar, the child of Juan Antonio and Maria Petra (Olivas) Esparza. He married Anna Salazar, who bore him a daughter and three sons, one of whom, Enrique, was an eyewitness to the siege of the Alamo. Esparza enlisted in Juan N. Seguín’s company in October 1835 and participated in the taking of the squares on the north side of the city during the Siege of Bexar, December 5–9, 1835. He served until the capitulation of Gen. Martín Perfecto de Cos on December 10, 1835.
On the arrival of Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna in February 1836, Esparza and his family were advised by John William Smith to take refuge in the Alamo, since they had been friendly with the Americans. They arrived at twilight and entered through a small window in the church of the compound. Although Col. William Barret Travis, through James Bowie’s influence, was allowing local citizens to leave if they so desired, Esparza elected to stay and fight, and his family to remain with him. He tended a cannon during the siege and died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
Francisco Esparza, Gregorio’s brother, by his own admission a member of the local Mexican “presidial” company of the Alamo until the capitulation of Cos, requested and was granted permission to enter the Alamo and search for his brother’s body after the siege. In company with his two brothers, he took the body and interred it in the Campo Santo on the west side of San Pedro Creek. Thus Gregorio Esparza received a Christian burial, unlike the others slain in the battle. Gregorio’s heirs were instrumental in founding San Augustine, southeast of Pleasanton in Atascosa County.
Willis H. Landrum, soldier and legislator, was born in Tennessee in 1805. He moved to Texas in 1834 and settled in what is now Sabine County. He was captain of a company that participated in the Siege of Bexar in 1835. He also commanded a company of volunteers in the Third Regiment of the Third Brigade in the campaign for the expulsion of the Cherokee Indians in 1839. Landrum represented Shelby and Sabine counties in the Senate of the First Congress of the Republic of Texas. In 1838 he was appointed a member of the board of land commissioners of Shelby County, but in 1841 he returned to the Sixth Congress as a representative of Sabine County. His will was filed for probate in Hopkins County on March 22, 1865.
Green B. Jameson, chief engineer of the Alamo, son of Benjamin Jameson of New Jersey, was born in Kentucky or Tennessee in 1809. His grandfather, John Jameson, was an early lieutenant governor of Virginia. Jameson, a lawyer, moved to Texas in 1830 and settled in Brazoria. He took part in the Siege of Bexar in 1835, then remained in Bexar under the command of Lt. Col. James C. Neill as chief engineer of the garrison occupying the town and the Alamo. Jameson’s correspondence with Sam Houston in the weeks before the Alamo siege began gave detailed descriptions of the Alamo’s defenses. On the first day of the siege, February 23, 1836, Jameson was sent by James Bowie as a messenger to the Mexican forces. He died in the battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.
Benjamin F. Highsmith, Alamo courier and Texas Ranger, son of Ahijah M. and Deborah (Turner) Highsmith, was born in St. Charles District, Missouri Territory, on September 11, 1817. His father had been a scout and ranger during the War of 1812. Highsmith’s family traveled to Texas by wagon train and crossed the Sabine River by raft on December 24, 1823. They settled on the Colorado River near the site of present La Grange, Fayette County.
In 1830 Highsmith made his first trip to San Antonio de Béxar in a group of men that included William B. Travis, James Bowie, Benjamin McCulloch, Samuel Highsmith, George C. Kimbell, and Winslow Turner. At age fifteen he joined the company of Aylett C. Buckner and fought in the battle of Velasco on June 26, 1832. During that year Highsmith also settled in Bastrop, where he lived for the next fifty years. He took part in all of the major actions at the outset of the Texas Revolution: the fight for the Gonzales “Come and Take It” cannon, the battle of Concepción, the Grass Fight, and the Siege of Bexar.
He remained in Bexar after the siege until February 18, 1836, when he was sent by Travis with an appeal for aid to Col. James W. Fannin, Jr., at Goliad. Upon his return to Bexar, Highsmith found the town already occupied by the Mexican army. He was spotted by the Mexican cavalry at Powder House Hill and pursued by them for some six miles. He rode to Gonzales and later served Gen. Sam Houston as a courier. He and David B. Kent, son of Alamo defender Andrew Kent, carried a message to Fannin from Houston ordering Fannin to abandon Goliad and join him at the Guadalupe River. Highsmith fought in the battle of San Jacinto as a member of Capt. William Ware’s company.
After the revolution, Highsmith had a long career with the Texas Rangers. He served in the Mexican War, fought in the battles of Monterrey and Palo Alto, and was wounded at Buena Vista. Highsmith died in Uvalde County on November 20, 1905.