I have been in Texas for several days now. Have had the pleasure of running in some new places, one of which was up and down Congress Ave in the wee hours of the morning. I was not alone, my son ran with me as we have been touring college campuses with him. We got out early, but by the time 6am rolled around we were joined by many runners making the path from the Lady Bird lake trail up toward Congress to the State Capital and then on to Texas State University. As you meander the streets of Austin, you cannot help but notice the many tributes to great heroes of the past. You pass statues of people like Ceaser Chaves, Martin Luther King, and the many great heroes of the Texas Republic.
Of course one of the many things that I like to do while running, is to look for inspiration for my next blog topic! I have a lot to choose from and any one of the plaques that you run past give you a good bit of history and more than one inspirational story to recount in a blog. So I have had no lack of good material to choose from. Unfortunately, the State Capital has been barricaded due to concerns with recent protests, so I was not able to explore any of those monuments this week.
However, this gave me the opportunity to see a few statutes and tributes that I might not have noticed otherwise. This brings me to one of the coolest bronze sculptures in all of Austin, which is on the corner of 6th and Congress and that is the statue of Angelina Belle Peyton Eberly firing off a canon.
Angelina is the type of unsung hero that I like to pay tribute to. She was not exactly you symbol of statehood and principled leadership like a Sam Houston. No, she was a hot headed, quick tempered fire cracker of a woman that probably did not take sh!t from anyone.
She was an tavern owner in the small provincial town of San Felipe de Austin. She had married her first cousin (Peyton) and started this operation right up until the Texas Republicans revolted from Mexican control. She was the sole proprietor at that time, her husband had passed away. She was forced to destroy her own business before the Mexican army could reach the town when full out war had broken out.
She eventually gets married to one of the rebels, Captain Jacob Eberly, in 1836. They moved to the city which is now known as Austin and there started a new tavern. Many of the leaders of the Texas Rebellion would meet in her tavern on a regular basis including the President of the Texas Republic, Lamar and eventually even Sam Houston himself. Her second husband, Jacob dies in 1841, and shortly thereafter she finds herself in the center of what is now known as the Archives War.
To make a long story short, President Lamar has placed most of the government offices, records, and important archives in modern day Austin. When Sam Houston was elected President, he attempted a few times to move everything to the city of Houston. He was not successful, but under the guise of security concerns he asked Captain Thomas Smith and 20 others to take some wagons into Austin, load up all the important records and transport them elsewhere for safe keeping. They came in the middle of the night, unbeknownst to the town people and started loading everything up.
Angelina was up, as most tavern owners are, and noticed what was going on. She got pissed off and in a moment of fury, lit a 6lb canon and fired it straight at the General Land Office Building, right there on Congress Ave. This not only scared the record stealers, but it alerted the town who quickly put an end to this thievery. Due to the fact that the archives and records were still stored in Austin, when Texas become a state of the union, Austin (and not Houston) was chosen as the State Capital.
So there you have it, a ill tempered, passionate woman who owned the local tavern was the one that kept Austin as the Capital of Texas.
Not sure why that is inspiring, but it is. Stay passionate, Stay true. Fight for what you see as right.