Thomas B. Bell, one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred colonists, received title to a league of land now in Brazoria County from the Baron de Bastrop on August 16, 1824. On October 3, 1825, he headed a committee at Cedar Lake that wrote to Austin about the best means of contending with the Karankawa Indians. The Colorado District census of 1825 listed Bell, and the 1826 Texas census described him as a farmer and stock raiser aged between twenty-five and forty, with a wife and three children. While petitioning for additional land in 1829, Bell gave his wife’s name as Prudencio and his residence as Austin Municipality. Noah Smithwick visited him in 1835 at his pole cabin on the San Bernard River. Bell is probably the Thomas Bell who served in Capt. John York’s company of volunteers for the revolutionary army from about September 1835 to December 1835, participated in the siege of Bexar, and received donation and bounty land grants for his military service. He received a donation certificate for 640 acres in Archer County and a bounty warrant for 320 acres in the same county in summer 1857. Bell may have been the Thomas Bell who was a bearer of a Lone Star flag in the battle of Concepción in 1835. A Thomas B. Bell served on the committee that printed the Goliad Declaration of Independence, which was distributed in December 1835. A Thomas Bell lived with his family in Austin County in February 1844.
William Sims Hall, known as Sims Hall, one of several William S. Halls in the Republic of Texas, was a militia captain and a contractor for Stephen F. Austin’s army during the siege of Bexar. He may be the William S. Hall who, as a resident of Bolivar in 1826, served as captain of the Third Company of Lt. Col. Stephen F. Austin’s militia battalion. In May of that year he led his company under senior captain Aylett C. Buckner on a preemptive strike against the Wacos and Tawakonis threatening Austin’s colony. Hall drew a stinging rebuke from Austin, however, for impressing horses and arms from the poorest citizens of the colony to outfit his company and then failing to return that property to its owners at the end of the campaign.
On October 14, 1835, a William S. Hall, presumably the same man, was appointed an army contractor for the Gonzales region by the Consultation, and on October 27 Richard R. Royall informed Austin that Hall was “on the Guadaloupe Raising Beaves, and getting meal” for the Texas army besieging Bexar. On November 13 Hall arrived at Brazoria to retrieve the cannon lost in Matagorda Bay with the sinking of the Texas schooner San Felipe. He also forwarded a company of New Orleans Greys to Austin’s army at San Antonio and then on November 18 submitted his resignation to Austin. He assured the general, however, that he would be “proud and ready to execute any orders in [his] power and to give any pecuniary aid that [his] means will justify,” and left Brazoria on the same day in an effort to move the San Felipe cannon to Austin’s forces.
On February 20, 1837, a William S. Hall was appointed one of several overseers of roads for Brazoria County. This Hall apparently died before January 6, 1841, for on that date a runaway slave named Jim was apprehended and identified as belonging to the estate of William S. Hall, “late of Brazoria.” In 1845, however, a William S. Hall, perhaps the son of the Austin colonist, was awarded the contract for the mail route from the Brazoria County community of Columbia to Galveston, and in 1846 a William S. Hall enlisted at Brenham in Company F of Col. John C. Hays’s First Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, for service in the Mexican War. On July 11, 1846, he transferred to Company D of the same regiment, a unit composed primarily of Brazoria County volunteers.
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.