Thursday, November 10, 2016

...And Now for the Rest of the Story... [Update on an Alamo Defender]

I learned a few years back that one of my Jennison family fought for Texas Independence. Robert W. Cunningham, son of David Cunningham and Anna Jennison was born in New York, but settled with his family in southern Indiana. Robert's mother was a sister of my Dolly Jennison Simmons.

Robert worked on flatboats carrying goods to New Orleans. He settled there, but decided to move to  Austin's Colony in Texas. Cunningham served with Parrot's Artillery during the Siege of Bexar in December 1835 and then volunteered to serve with Carey's Artillery after the Mexican troops under General Cos left Texas. He was among the 180 to 225 volunteers to die at the Alamo on 6 March 1836.

Based on information gathered to date, Robert was a single man who left behind family in Indiana.

Within the last few days that story has changed drastically! On 23 February 1833, Robert Cunningham married Louisa C. Hunt in Austin [probably San Felipe de Austin], Coahuila y Texas.
Robert and Louisa became parents of a daughter on 13 July 1834. She appeared as Emily and Mary Ellen in various records. When Cunningham joined the other defenders at the Alamo, he left behind a wife and daughter.

Robert's third wedding anniversary [23 February 1836] was marked with the arrival of unwelcome guests - Santa Anna's advanced guard.

Leaving behind a wife and daughter changes the perspective of Robert's decision to join Travis' command at the Alamo. Now he was fighting for the future of his daughter and spouse. His thoughts on the night of March 5th would have been of the 19 month-old child who would grow up without him. He would not be there to see her married or to see his grandchildren. Would Louisa and the baby be safe from the Mexican army after the fall of the Alamo. The defenders knew that the last reinforcements had arrived. The odds of seeing their loved ones again were non-existent.

By dawn of March 6th, Louisa Cunningham was a widow and Mary Ellen would never see her father again. Louisa remarried in 1838 to Basil Gaither Ijams. Mary Ellen would have four step-siblings. In 1851, 17 year-old Mary Ellen married Eli Clapp in Colorado Co., Texas. Eli, 20 years her senior, was a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto. She had married one of the men who had avenged the death of the father who gave his life for her, her mother, her children and Texas Independence.

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